Gardening with kids can offer a wealth of benefits. Gardening as a family means great bonding time, and it can relieve stress, enhance fine motor skills, and teach kids responsibility.

Of course, figuring out how to keep plants at their best can create its own stress. Fortunately, it’s easier than you might imagine to plant a low-maintenance garden right here in Chandler. Let Crème de la Crème of Chandler show you how to get started.

About Chandler’s Hardiness Zone

Orange flowers blooming in Chandler, AZ

orange flowers with green leaves” used with permission via Unsplash by jkiwi

Your first step to planting an amazing (and easy to maintain!) garden is figuring out which plants will thrive in the hardiness zone where you’re located. Chandler is located in Zone 9, which is a year-round planting zone. Our area features a growing season that lasts for nine months. The 10-year average winter temperature determines each hardiness zone’s temperature range. Although hardiness zones are designed to advise about plants suitable for a zone’s cold temperatures, the biggest challenge in Chandler and the rest of Zone 9 is actually the summer heat, which poses a challenge to typical summer gardens.

So, what exactly is plant hardiness? The term refers to a plant’s ability to survive difficult growing conditions like heat, cold, flooding, or drought. Plant genetics can be complicated, and each cultivar of a given plant can have different hardiness levels. That said, finding plants that do well in Zone 9 is key to planting a thriving garden in Chandler as you have some control over things like the soil type, levels of sunlight, and moisture levels that affect a plant’s health, but you won’t have much control over the temperature outdoors.

Zone 9 typically experiences minimum average temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The zone is broken into two sub zones: Zone 9a, which has minimum average temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees Fahrenheit, and Zone 9b, which has minimum average temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit.

All in all, the mild winter conditions and long, hot summers you know and love in Chandler make heat more of an issue than cold here. Spring gardening will start much earlier here than in other places due to the extreme heat, and fall gardens will produce longer than other areas. Tropical plants with low water requirements do particularly well here.

Drought-Tolerant Plants for Chandler

If you’re looking for drought-tolerant, low-water plants to grow, you’re in luck. Plenty of gorgeous plants will do well in your Chandler garden. With so many annuals and perennials suited to grow in Zone 9 gardens, the trick is just choosing beautiful plants your family loves! In fact, many plants considered annuals may even grow like perennials in Zone 9 and come back every year.

Some annual plants to consider include:

  • Cosmos: Look forward to daisy-like flowers in maroon, pink, or white and feathery foliage.
  • Dusty miller: Silvery-gray foliage will dress up a garden, as long as you have rich, well-drained soil and full sunlight for this plant.
  • Marigolds: These popular flowers are easy to maintain and love the sun, and they come in shades like gold, yellow, red, and mahogany.
  • Portulaca: Known as moss rose, portulaca comes in a range of intense colors and does well in bright sunlight and intense heat.
  • Zinnias: Choose from a wide rainbow of pastel and bold hues to brighten up any corner of your garden.

Some perennial plants to consider include:

  • Agastache: This tall plant loves the sun and flowers into white or purple blooms during summer and fall.
  • Echinacea: You might know this vibrant plant as coneflower, and it will do well in just about any well-drained soil.
  • Lantana: Though it’s an annual in cooler climates, lantana grows as a perennial in Zone 9 with shades like purple, yellow, white, and more available.
  • Lavender: This sweet-smelling standout hails from the Mediterranean, but it’s well-suited to the arid climate here.
  • Penstemon: The kids (and adults!) in your family will love watching hummingbirds and butterflies flock to the bright red flowers.
  • Russian sage: Put this shrubby plant with silvery-gray foliage and bluish purple blooms in any sunny spot with soil that drains well.
  • Salvia: Salvia’s vivid blooms (think: red, purple, and even blue) will brighten your garden through much of the summer and fall months.
  • Veronica: Tall spikes of blue, pink, purple, or white blooms make any garden striking, so look for areas with well-drained soil and bright sunlight.
  • Yarrow: This prairie plant is a real favorite for those looking for low-maintenance plants that are easy to grow.
  • Yucca: An evergreen shrub, yucca elevates any garden with flower spikes.

Growing Fruits and Vegetables in Chandler

You don’t have to limit your Chandler garden to just decorative plants, though. You can also easily grow an array of delicious fruits and veggies. Imagine how excited your kids will be to help grow plants that they’ll then get to taste. In fact, if you’re looking for a way to get your kids inspired to try out new healthy foods, getting them involved in gardening is a great way to do it.

Keep in mind that though Chandler has a long growing season, you won’t necessarily get a steady supply of typical summer vegetables. The extreme heat in the summertime means you’ll need to break your growing seasons into fall, winter, and spring gardening instead of a standard summer-only strategy. Extremely heat-tolerant veggies, peppers, and okra will likely only grow during August. However, you can grow a range through the winter, including:

  • Broccoli.
  • Cabbage.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Spinach.

Zone 9 is also an amazing place to plant fruit trees. As with other plants, in Chandler, you’ll have to consider heat tolerance instead of cold hardiness when choosing good fruits to plant. Consider citrus and tropical fruit trees like:

  • Avocado.
  • Mandarin orange.
  • Olives.
  • Starfruit.

You can even add herbs to your list of things to grow with your family here. Some herbs that tolerate heat well include:

  • Basil.
  • Chives.
  • Cilantro (coriander).
  • Lemon thyme.

That wraps up Crème de la Crème of Chandler’s guide to planting an amazing garden right here in our hometown. Do you have a favorite plant to grow or an Arizona gardening tip we didn’t include? Drop us a line so we can add it!