Garden for Snowbirds (of the Human Variety)

You may not be a snowbird, but read on for some ideas for winter color!

Succulents appear to be the easy solution to a trouble-free snowbird landscape but many of them don’t like full sun. Furthermore, our native succulents bloom in May and if you snowbird away you miss it! Luckily, there are some succulents that provide winter color.

‘Hallmark’ bulbine has orange and yellow blooms.

Shade loving succulents.

For shady areas I do like the lovely bulbine, available in both yellow and orange (Bulbine species). Bulbines make great cut flowers, lasting for weeks. Threadleaf milkweed (Asclepias linearis) also needs summer shade but it’s great for butterflies!

True aloe (Aloe vera) has yellow flowers that hummingbirds adore.

Part shade succulents – aloes.

Aloes come to us from South Africa and most are not happy in our fierce summer sun. They are best planted in part shade – like under a palo verde tree. Note – there are over 500 species! If first you don’t succeed, try again with a different species. They flower in January into March depending on species and the hummingbirds adore the blooms.

‘Blue Elf” aloes waiting to ship to a retail nursery near you. Photo courtesy of Mountain States Wholesale Nursery.

Aloe exceptions.

Local growers have been selecting for especially aloes that can take full sun, and the ‘Blue Elf’ aloe is one such. You won’t find it in a big box store – you do have to visit one of our many wonderful local nurseries. Call ahead to see if they have it in stock.

Hesperaloes come in a variety of colors. Photo courtesy of Mountain States Wholesale Nursery.

Succulents for sun.

For sunny areas, go with the desert milkweed (Asclepias subulata), again, a nectar treat for butterflies. To attract hummingbirds go with the hesperaloes. Also called “red yucca” (Hesperaloe parviflora) this member of the Agave family comes in many different sizes and color selections, including red, coral, pink, and white flowers.


It may be January, but it’s not too late to add some color to your winter garden. For the cost of lunch out you can support a local nursery plus have hours of viewing pleasure.


If you live in Southeastern Arizona, please come to one of my free lectures. After each event I will be signing copies of my books, including
Month-by-Month Guide to Gardening in Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada” (Cool Springs Press).
© Article is copyright by Jacqueline A. Soule. All rights reserved. Republishing an entire blog post or article is prohibited without permission. I receive many requests to reprint my work. My policy is that you may use a short excerpt but you must give proper credit to the author, and must include a link back to the original post on our site. Photos may not be used.

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