Desert SW Style Plants for Minnesota

I love the colors and textures of the native SW desert Landscape.  I dig it so much that I try to add some of that flare into my landscape designs up here in Minnesota.  The things that really stand out in this style of the landscape are the use of silver and light green colors.  Also, the use of big fleshy plants teamed up with textures resembling cactus are impactful.

While we can use a couple of the plants from down in the south with the hope that they will live we mostly have to adapt and come up with alternatives that closely resemble what you would encounter down there.

If you have a greenhouse or a glass room during the winter where you can bring plants in then this will really be a winning situation.  Some people go with a south-facing window for their potted plants.  They claim it is very effective keeping living plants happy and vigorous.  The low sun angle hitting a South window can give direct light to your plants for over 7 hours a day when the sun is shining.

What plants to try?

Plants I love that will either survive or you can bring in include:

Citrus Plants:  I have had many friends and clients in Minnesota buy a Meyer Lemon tree from Monrovia.  The key is to find a nice pot that won’t be too heavy to move around.  Lemons are very sensitive so get it inside at the sign of the first frost.  This will save the tree from harsh winter temperatures.  You might get some bonus winter fruit for fun!


Sedums:  These wonderful plants are a favorite in Minnesota.  Sedum are a succulent and resemble plants of the south.  The cool this is:  they are brutally tough.  Just try to kill one….you can’t!


Agave:  There is a zone 4 variety that is worth trying if you can get you hands on it.  It is called parryi v. neomexicana ‘cloudcroft form.’  You could try for this or by any Agave and put it in a pot and bring it in during cold weather.  What a neat focal point to talk about during the holidays.

Cactus:  SW Minnesota boasts to have a population of these beauties.  If they can live there, there can live anywhere!


Silver Mound:  One of the best rock garden plants around.  Tuck it by some boulders and it will provide you with an adunacne of lacy silver all summer long.

Yucca:  This is just a stellar plant.  I’m not particularly fond of it’s flower, but the leaves are sword-like and vocal all year long!


Iris:  A plant very similar to the Yucca above with regard to the leaf shape, give it a try to liven up the scene with its white edges.