Being a desert region, Arizona has hot and dry climate. Temperatures usually run high and can go beyond 100 degrees F during the summers. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot grow vegetables in your home garden in Arizona.
If you’ve been avoiding gardening because your backyard lacks shade, you’re missing out on fresh veggies and herbs. Vegetables taste best when they are fresh out of the garden and the joy of reaping the fruits of your labor is incomparable.
If you have a spot in your backyard that gets direct sunlight all day, there are many vegetables that will thrive in this environment.
Here are some vegetables that can be grown well in Arizona full sun:
Tomatoes are actually fruits and not vegetables—we know! Since they are mostly grown in vegetable gardens, we decided to include them in this list.
Tomatoes will grow well in Arizona provided they are grown in acidic soil and receive abundant sunlight. Most fruiting plants thrive with full sunlight. If you live in one of the cooler Arizona regions, plant your tomatoes in April or May.
Arizona is actually one of the largest exporters of hydroponic tomatoes. You can have a lot of success if you choose a variety bred for high heat.
The Solar Fire, for instance, is a hybrid tomato developed by the University of Florida that bears fruit when temperatures rise above 32 degrees C. Celebrity, Champion and Roma tomatoes are some other varieties that do well in Arizona.
Here is a handy list of different tomato varieties and ideal conditions for their growth.
Make sure that you water them well and supply fertilizer regularly to keep the soil fertile and provide a good environment for the plant.
Tomatoes grow on vines, so you will need to install a cage/trellis or any other similar structure to provide support to the vines.
Tomatillos are also a viable option in a full sun Arizona garden. They are close relatives of the tomato and have the same soil requirements. They can be eaten fresh off the vine and taste somewhat like a green apple or an unripe cucumber.
The sour flavor is quite strong in tomatillos and they pair well with grilled or spicy food.
Peppers are also fruits that function as vegetables. Both sweet and hot peppers do well in the Arizona heat. In fact, they are quite similar in requirements to tomatoes.
Fruiting plants do not like the shade because they need a lot of energy for flowering and bearing fruit—which they acquire from the sun.
If you live in a cooler part of Arizona, grow peppers during the summer. If you experience sweltering hot summers, plant them during the spring or fall.
Peppers need a lot of nutrients, so make sure to apply fertilizer regularly. A layer of organic compost on the soil can be very beneficial to pepper plants.
Most peppers are green when they first appear. While they are edible at this stage, they can turn red, yellow or orange as they mature, depending on the kind of pepper. Mature peppers have a better flavor than green ones.
Spicy peppers get spicier and sweet peppers will get sweeter.
The smell of freshly grilled corn slathered in butter is one of the most pleasant aromas in summer. Maize, commonly called corn, is another vegetable that thrives in the Arizona heat.
It is one of the most useful ingredients to have around the house—you can make a variety of dishes with it or just grill it for a quick snack.
The hotter the weather, the faster the corn grows. Make sure to supply it with plenty of water to enjoy plump, juicy kernels. It requires a fair amount of space, but since it is so low maintenance, it is very popular with small farmers.
If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you already know how amazing eggplants are. They are a great source of vitamin B1 and provide a host of health benefits. If you experience long summers, you should seriously consider growing eggplants.
They can be grown in containers or planted directly in the ground. Drainage is important for eggplants, so make sure the soil drains quickly. Compost or manure will vastly improve the growth of your eggplants.
Eggplants do not like cold weather, so they are perfect for the Arizona heat. They can survive in both full sun and partial shade. Sandy soil is the best for planting eggplants.
Okra is an Ethiopian plant and is very comfortable in hot weather. The hot and dry Arizona climate provides a great environment for growing okra.
Some vegetables are adversely affected when the weather is too hot because the bees stop pollinating flowers. Okra plants do not face this problem because they self-pollinate their blossoms.
Heirloom okras that have been around for decades or okras that originated in Arizona will fare much better than other varieties. Their root systems go deeper into the soil, allowing them to stay hydrated in dry climates.
It is best to harvest okra early. This way, it will not get mushy when you cook it. You can also pick spineless varieties if you prefer your okra on the tender side.
Okra is an absolute favorite in full sun regions as it is very hardy and survives with minimal care even in the driest conditions.
Spinach makes for a great addition to your home garden. It thrives during the winters in hot regions. It can be planted in late summer, spring or early winter.
Make sure to harvest spinach before temperatures rise too much, which can cause the spinach leaves to wilt.
For a good harvest, make sure to keep the soil moist with frequent watering and plant at the right time so that the spinach is ready for harvest before it gets too hot.
Malabar spinach is a variety that can tolerate full sun. It does not wilt in hot temperatures like normal spinach. Here is a guide for growing Malabar Spinach in Arizona.
People often think of pumpkins as cold weather plants as they appear in the fall, just in time for Halloween. This bright orange vegetable actually adores the sun and grows best when planted at the beginning or middle of summer.
They can survive in partial shade too, but full sun is really the best spot for a pumpkin plant. If you plan your harvest wisely, you can have big, beautiful pumpkins to carve by the time Halloween rolls around.
Since they are native to North America, they can grow with minimal care in Arizona. If you water them adequately and remember to fertilize them on time, you will have a very bountiful harvest in the fall with minimum effort.
Pumpkin plants are very useful, as almost every part of the vegetable is edible. People even plant pumpkin plants for the flowers, as they are used in home remedies for diseases like the common cold.
Squash plants are great for full sun areas. The more the sunlight, the bigger the yield.
Summer squash plants grow at a very high speed and are very easy to care for. They are also very flexible as an ingredient and can be consumed in a variety of ways. You can eat them raw, fry, saute or roast them, or make a squash stew.
Winter squash plants also love the sun. They are different from summer squash plants, as they do not grow as quickly. They also do not need frequent watering.
If you have ever grown melons, you will surely have success with squash too, as the process is almost identical.
Sweet potatoes thrive in tropical regions and require a lot of sunlight. They are a typical component of Southern cuisine and can tolerate extreme heat—provided they get a regular supply of water.
They grow best when the days are extremely hot and the nights are warm. If you want a bountiful harvest, plan your garden such that the sweet potatoes are ready to harvest before the temperatures start dipping at night.
Tuberous vegetables typically do well in full sun environments. Sweet potatoes, in particular, are the best performing varieties of potato in Arizona. They provide a good yield and thrive in the sweltering climate.
Beans are an oft-overlooked plant that really thrive in the sunshine. The best part is that there are a ton of varieties to choose from. Even if your family has finicky eaters, you are bound to find a variety of beans that everyone will enjoy.
If the weather in your area is very hot, go for varieties like asparagus beans that thrive in extreme heat. Lima beans, winged beans or black-eyed peas are also great options.
You can also plant different kinds of beans each year so that you get to enjoy a variety of fresh beans over the years.
Other Herbs and Fruits
Vegetables can be accompanied by a variety of fruits or herbs in your full sun Arizona garden. Herbs like basil, oregano, cilantro, thyme and rosemary grow well in areas with high sun exposure.
Lemons, limes, watermelons, strawberries and tangerines are all good options if you are considering adding fruit to your garden.
You do not need to keep the vegetables, fruits and herbs separate. You can mix them up to create an aesthetic display or place them according to their sunlight needs. You can also read up on companion planting and place them in a way that mutually benefits them.
Tips for Growing Vegetables in Arizona Full Sun
Here are a few handy tips for growing vegetables in a full sun Arizona garden:
⦁ It is best to grow vegetables that mature quickly. This way, you can have multiple harvests in a year. Plants like corn, eggplants, peppers and potatoes are very popular in Arizona home gardens.
⦁ Vegetables that grow on vines will require partial shade. If you plant vegetables like tomatoes or herbs like basil, make arrangements for temporary shade.
⦁ Vegetable plants need a lot of resources for growing produce. Make sure to water all your plants regularly and provide fertilizer as and when necessary. Manure or compost also make valuable additions to vegetable gardens.
⦁ Timing is everything for vegetable gardens. Read up on the sunlight requirements of all the plants you plan to grow and make a planting calendar.
Make sure you plant and harvest at the right time for maximum yield. There is no point in spending all that effort in maintaining a vegetable garden for a paltry harvest.
⦁ Before planting the seeds, make a layout of your garden. Map out the areas according to the amount of sunlight they receive. Find out if a plant needs full sun, partial sun or full shade before planting it.
Vegetable Gardening in Arizona
If you pick the right vegetables, maintaining a vegetable garden in Arizona is very easy. Most plants only require frequent watering and loads of fertilizer—even amateurs have great success with vegetable gardens.
You can further increase your yield with the help of components like compost and fish emulsion. Both of them supply the plants with plenty of nutrients. Compost also helps keep the soil moist, which is an important factor in full sun gardens.
If you own chickens, you can also consider using chicken manure in your vegetable garden. It is organic and complements the Arizona soil nicely.
It is not strictly necessary to use organic elements in your vegetable garden as vegetables are much more tolerant than fruits. Regular, off-the-shelf fertilizers are enough to nourish a vegetable garden.
Vegetable gardens sometimes tend to build up salt in the soil. So if you do use fertilizers, the best way to go is to start small and observe how your plants react.
Growing your own vegetables is always a great idea. They inexplicably taste better and are always fresh. It is also the only way of knowing for sure that your vegetables are indeed organic.
There are many vegetables that can be grown well in the Arizona full sun. Even if you are a beginner, you can successfully grow vegetables in your garden as they require minimal care and grow rapidly.
The hot and dry climate of Arizona provides an ideal home for many vegetables, herbs and fruits. With this handy list of plants that thrive in Arizona full sun gardens, we are sure that you will enjoy a bountiful yield soon.