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What Plants Grow Well in Shade in Arizona

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The state of Arizona is known for its cactus and scorching deserts. Plants that grow well in other places don’t usually last long in the Arizona sun, especially in the summer. Growing your plants in the shade may be your best option if you want some more exotic plants in your Arizona garden. 

Many succulents, vines, and grasses grow pretty well in the shade in Arizona, including:

  • Aloe
  • Jasmine 
  • Agave
  • Donkey Tail 
  • Day Lilly

Many others will do well in the Arizona heat, too.

Even though the temperatures in Arizona get to scorching levels, sometimes even into the triple-digits, many different plants grow well in the shade. This region of the world may be unforgiving for plants in direct sunlight. However, if you strategically plant your garden in the shadows, you have many horticultural options. Read on for information on what plants grow well in the shade in Arizona. 

Plants That Grow Well in Shade in Arizona

The fiery sun of Arizona is sometimes downright dangerous. But, if you have shade at your home or in your backyard, there are many different flowers, grasses, and succulents that thrive even in the desert heat of the state of Arizona. 

Plants that grow well in the shade in Arizona are generally more hearty than other plants. They have to withstand temperature heat, even if they are not great with direct sunlight. Also, most of the plants that grow well in the shade in Arizona are water harboring succulents or some variety of a succulent or plant that does not require much water. 

The following list has detailed many of the best plants for planting in the shady areas of Arizona, the care for these plants, and the times of the year when they are best for planting and when they flower. 


aloe plant in gravel

One of the great medicinal plants of the desert, aloe is also known as a hearty succulent that withstands extreme temperatures quite well. Aloe needs shade and not much direct sunlight for it to thrive in its growing area. The shady spots of the backyard, even in the hot temperatures of Arizona, work just fine for the thick green shafts of this plant. 

Aloe is usually grown best in moderate sunshine. However, in hot climates, they don’t mind getting planted in deep shade. 

A valuable growing tip for aloe is that you should water it only when the dirt around the aloe plant is dehydrated.

One of the best benefits of aloe is that it can get used as medicine. As the leaves grow more prominent, you can cut them for further propagation of more alow plants or use the insides of the leaves as antibacterial and skin-soothing medicine


climbing jasmine

Jasmine is one of those plants that smells great when it receives heat and sunlight but will also do well in the shade. Planting Jasmine in the shade in Arizona is possible with a few tips and care tricks. 

There are different varieties of Jasmine, and some do not do well in the shade. The two types of Jasmine that grow well in partial or complete shade are called Madison or Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum Jaswminoides “Madison”) and Asiatic Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum). 

Star Jasmine is more of a vine and has more fragrant flowers while the Asiatic Jasmine is used more for ground cover and doesn’t bloom very much or at all.

  • Make sure you have plenty of trellised areas for the vines to grab hold of 
  • Water occasionally but never let the soil get completely dry
  • Make sure that the wind blows the scent of the Star Jasmine in the direction of an open window for full enjoyment of its beautiful fragrance 

Cultivating these two varieties of Jasmine in the shade in Arizona will create thriving vines for the side of a structure like a fence or building. Also, some of the best tips for growing Jasmine in the shade are listed below:  


Agave is one of those succulents that grows exceptionally well in the shade in the environments of Arizona. The heat helps it pull water into its large leafy sections, and the shade keeps it from wilting. 

Sure, it’s accurate – agave is famous for being an ingredient in tequila. A full-grown agave plant will have sharp spikes that are over 20 feet tall! However, they are also full of blossoming and beautiful succulents that grow to be considerable centerpieces in a garden.   

Some care tips for growing agave in the shade in Arizona are listed below: 

  • Keep agave away from walkways because of the sharp spikes on this succulent
  • Water sparingly. Drip water only a few times per week at most
  • Wait for the blossom. Some agave varietals have seven-year cycles for their flowers

The agave plant thrives in the shade, so make sure that you give it lots of room for growth. This is the most giant succulent on this list, and those spines can get dangerous. However, the agave could also become a showstopper in your garden. 

Donkey’s or Burro’s Tail

This brush-shaped succulent is a handsome and thick plant with drooping greenery that hangs down past the lip of the pot it is planted in. This hanging succulent is known by its scientific name, Sedum morganianum. Still, it is commonly called Donkey’s Tail because of the thick bushy growth and the way it hangs. 

Donkey’s tail does well in the shade, even in the hot temperatures of a place like Arizona. Watering a donkey’s tail is not work at all. A fully grown year-old or older donkey’s tail only needs to get wet once every week or more. 

The soil needed for the Donkey tail is thick with drainage because this succulent needs little water for its roots. The roots drink quickly and don’t need to stay moist. 

Day Lily

day lily

Even though many would think it needs a lot of sunlight because of its name, ironically, the day lily flowering plant is a lovely plant that thrives in the shade and can withstand heat. 

The large orange blossoms of day lily are perennials that brighten up a garden. However, make sure that you keep their soil moist. Unlike succulents, they need wet soil daily for continued healthy growth. 

The day lily is also one of those plants that keep their flowers open for a long time. This means they attract pollinators to your garden and are an excellent addition for any gardener looking to spread pollen around to other plants. 

The day lily is less hearty than the other plants on this list. 

In Conclusion

The heat and intense sunlight of Arizona can’t hold these plants back. These succulents and flowers will thrive in full shade and bring your garden green and lush serenity. You can have a great backyard when you focus on propagating and caring for these plants that grow well in the shade in Arizona.

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Jena Slocum Co-Founder

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