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Irrigated Tropical Backyard Info & Photos

 
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jonnypnaz



Joined: 06 Jul 2010
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:14 pm    Post subject: Irrigated Tropical Backyard Info & Photos Reply with quote

Hey guys, I started researching growing tropical plants in AZ a couple years ago when I bought my first place and noticed there wasnt alot of info available specific to desert climates which was frustrating since I wanted a very lush backyard as quickly as possible. I found this site and a couple others and talked to as many landscapers as I could that seemed to know their stuff, and decided to start planting. I started planting the first few things about 2 years ago now and added alot more 1-1.5 years ago. I will share some tidbits of what I've learned.

First of all I live in North Mesa in a neighborhood that was once an old orange grove on an irrigated lot. Having access to flood irrigation and being on a higher spot or a more central location within the Phx area obviously makes things much much easier if you're trying to get things growing big quick in Phx. The location within the city makes a huge difference as there are large minimum temp variations across the valley in the winter. While areas like mine and central phoenix may get down to 26-28 F during a frost, outlying areas may see temps as low as mid-teens which will freeze many of the more-sensitive tropicals to the ground. Also, now that I've been growing with flood irrigation for a couple years now, I realize there is no way I would have been able to achieve my same results without it. You can certainly grow tropical without it, but plants and especially trees LOVE deep, infrequent waterings to train their roots to grow deeper and it has made my experience exponentially easier. Although I installed drips to supplement the flood, now that many of my plants are established, I feel that most of them do not need supplemental watering except perhaps during the very dry month of June. The major downside of flood irrigation though is that it enables nutgrass and other weeds to take up residence in many areas you dont want them. I combat this by spot-treating the problem areas with Groundclear every other month.

Another thing I've learned is since the AZ sun and heat is so brutal for tropicals it is very helpful to create a microclimate to support the more sensitive tropicals. I am growing 8 species of bamboo and have planted Ghost gum eucalyptus trees, 2 banyan (ficus benghalensis), and a mimosa tree in addition to several large orange trees that were already there to begin to start a canopy with which to protect the other plants from both the sun and frost. The nice thing about bamboo is that it loves the heat and sun, its fast growing, and there are many species that thrive in AZ (given enough water). It's a little messy but I love how quickly it can transform your yard into a tropical look in such a short time (make sure to use lots of composted manure for mulch around the area you want it to grow).

Anyhow, I was very skeptical that you could create a tropical backyard in AZ on any serious scale when I first started the process a couple years ago, but with the right conditions I'm here to say that it most certainly can be done if you're dedicated to it. My backyard has only just begun to get growing and I'm starting to get very excited about the results this growing season. Here is a partial list of the plants I'm successfully growing so far (who knows which ones might die if we get another really bad frost though soon):

Trees:
Eucalyptus Papuanas
Ficus Benghalensis
Ficus Elastica
Mimosa
Umbrella Tree
Hong Kong Orchid

Bamboos:
Tropical Black
Bambusa Lako (clumping black)
Buddha's Belly
Phyllostachys Vivax and Vivax aureocalis
Phyllostachys Bambusoides
Green temple bamboo
Weavers bamboo
Red Margin Bamboo

Palms:
Rupicola Reclinata hybrids
king palms
queen palms
sago palms - not really a true palm
Cyad Dioon - not really a true palm
rhapis palm (these are cold hardy in AZ and look very tropical, provided they are mostly shaded - got mine from the Home Depot off of Valvista and Broadway in Mesa - The guy that manages the nursery is a tropical fanatic and very knowledgable about tropicals in AZ)

Smaller Plants:
Japonica Fatsia
Philodendron Selloum
Philodendron Evansii
Giant Elephants ears
Alocasia Odora
Monstera Deliciosa - quite a few of these
Tropical cannas
giant birds of paradise
bananas (not sure what kind I bought off a small grower)
abyssian red bananas


Vines:
algerian ivy
creeping fig



Backyard summer 2012 005.JPG
 Description:
rhapis, and various other plants that have created a bit of a microclimate in this corner
 Filesize:  3.16 MB
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rhapis, and various other plants that have created a bit of a microclimate in this corner



Backyard summer 2012 003.JPG
 Description:
bird of paradise, bananas, cannas, bamboo in the background
 Filesize:  3.01 MB
 Viewed:  653 Time(s)

bird of paradise, bananas, cannas, bamboo in the background



Backyard summer 2012 011.JPG
 Description:
Wide angle
 Filesize:  3.7 MB
 Viewed:  683 Time(s)

Wide angle


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phoenixtropicals
Site Admin


Joined: 06 May 2008
Posts: 1177
Location: Mesa Arizona

PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very cool looking yard Jonny. You just need to add monkeys and toucans now. Ha ha. Thanks for all the great info!
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MKIVRYAN



Joined: 07 Dec 2010
Posts: 154
Location: Phoenix/Scottsdale

PostPosted: Sat Aug 04, 2012 9:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW! Looks great.
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MKIVRYAN



Joined: 07 Dec 2010
Posts: 154
Location: Phoenix/Scottsdale

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 3:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can we some more pictures of your king palms?
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MKIVRYAN



Joined: 07 Dec 2010
Posts: 154
Location: Phoenix/Scottsdale

PostPosted: Tue Aug 20, 2013 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yard update?
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vjardin



Joined: 07 Jul 2013
Posts: 9
Location: Mesa, AZ

PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi jonnypnaz. I came across your old post and am curious as to how your tropical garden is doing. I also live in the Mesa orange grove area and would like to start a tropical fruit area in my back yard. I have a few small trees struggling now through the summer heat (mango, guava, lychee, banana, papaya) and would love to see how you planted the bamboos & other trees to provide shades for the tropical fruit trees. Also how have you protected your tropicals from frost exposure?

Thanks
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