Having a productive garden in Arizona is easy to accomplish so long as you have the right plan. Below we’ll walk you through which plants thrive in Arizona, when to plant in Arizona, and how to adapt your garden as the seasons change.
Hardiness zones, sometimes referred to as “growing zones” or “planting zones”, were created by the USDA to help gardeners determine which plants are best suited for a particular location.
Arizona encompasses 7 hardiness zones. They are zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Before we get started, determine which zone you live in by visiting this interactive USDA hardiness zone map.
At their core, hardiness zones only represent how cold a particular area gets in winter. This information, combined with the average frost dates for your area, is the key to planting the right herbs and vegetables in Arizona.
Below, we’ll guide you through the best crops to grow in your zone in Arizona and when to plant them.
If you’re living in Arizona planting zones 10, congratulations! You’ve won the lottery in terms of spring weather for gardening. Zones 10 typically do not experience frost, which means most common produce will happily grow in your garden throughout March, April, and May.
Some of our favorites for spring planting in these zones are crops you can continue harvesting well into summer, such as tomatoes, sweet peppers, yellow squash, cucamelons, and bell peppers. The world is your oyster, so plant what you like!
These crops will feel much more comfortable in the moderate temperatures of spring, as opposed to the intensity of an Arizona summer. And their short growing period means once temperatures begin to rise, they’ll be ready to harvest and replaced with plants more adapt to the Arizona heat.
For warm weather crops such as these, start seedlings indoors in March. In April and May, once temperatures at night are consistently above 50 degrees, transplant established plants to the garden.
In Arizona growing zones 4 and 5, spring is considerably cold compared to most other areas. As a result, the viable growing season in these locations is fairly short.
To get the most out of your garden in Arizona zones 4 and 5, seedlings should to be started indoors. We also recommend using a blanket of straw to help protect transplants from a surprise frost.
With so much of the growing season experiencing cooler temperatures, focusing on frost tolerant crops is a great strategy for success. Vegetables such as onions, broccoli, buttercrunch lettuce, and kale can usually be planted in late April or May for zones 4 and 5. Cool weather crops that have a bit longer growing period, such as Brussels sprouts, parsnips, and artichokes, are another great option for the colder areas of Arizona.
But at the end of the day, for most common garden vegetables in Arizona zones 4 and 5, planting will have to wait until things warm up in June.
Arizona hardiness zones 10 have a pretty long growing season. Because of this, you can get away with harvesting the majority of crops through the end of fall to the beginning of winter.
Feel free to experiment with other common produce that don’t fall in the cold hardy category, such as cayenne peppers, green beans, tomatoes, and sweet peppers. Again, try to aim for plating in late summer, such as August or September. Be sure to watch the forecast as winter approaches, and cover plants with a blanket of straw or plastic buckets if temperatures dip down to the 40s. You may be surprised to see how resilient your plants can be in zones 10.
Want to keep gardening in Arizona zones 6, 7, 8 and 9 even as the weather cools? You might be surprised by your options!
Fall crops for Arizona zones 6, 7, 8 and 9 are typically planted around July and August. This should give the plant enough time to establish itself before cold weather begins to set in. Think cold-loving crops such as romaine lettuce, buttercrunch lettuce, and kale. Hardy root vegetables and durable leafy greens are great options, especially if you’re looking for something to plant in September or early October.
For Arizona growing zones 4 and 5, fall gardening is a race against the cold. Likely, you’ll want to plant short season fall crops during July or August, to ensure ample harvest time before the season’s first frost hits.
Cold hardy produce are the most viable fall crops for Arizona growing zones 4 and 5. Some of our favorites for Arizona are collard greens, carrots, onions, and beets. Not only can these type of plants withstand a bit of cold, but they’ll be great roasted or thrown in soups and stews during the Arizona winter months.
You can also extend the life of your fall garden in Arizona zones 4 and 5 by using methods such as hotbeds, covering plants with a plastic sheet at night, or “overwintering” perennials such as tomatoes and peppers.