Desert Accent Plants

Accent Plants Bring Personality to your Landscape Design

A few well-placed accent plants can allow your unique character to shine through in your Tucson landscape design. Visually stunning accent plants are an important aspect of residential and commercial accent design. Check out our collection of accents here— you’re sure to find some that are perfect for you!

*Our guide provides informational resources regarding plants that we commonly use. Horticulture Unlimited it not a nursery or supplier. We obtain necessary materials for installation purposes only, and recommend consulting a nursery or supplier for direct purchasing needs.

**The scientific names of plants may periodically change. While we attempt to update our Plant Guide to reflect this, there may still be multiple names found for these plants in other directories.

Agave americana

Century Plant

The Century Plant is the granddaddy of all agaves. It grows slowly to about 6 feet tall by 8-10 feet…

Century plant prefers full sun exposures and well drained soils, but it is adaptable to a wide range of conditions…

Agave americana 'Cornelius'

Agave cornelius

The agave cornelius is a low growing, colorful plant. It has thick, wavy blue green and yellow variegated foliage with wide…

The agave cornelius likes full sun and well-draining soils. It also prefers to completely dry out between watering cycles. If overwatered, the…

Agave americana var. marginata

Variegated Century Plant

The plant forms a large rosette of twisted silvery-green leaves and strips of bright yellow along its leaf margins, giving it…

The plant likes full sun and reflected heat, but can also take partial shade. It is drought-resistant, but will take…

Agave americana var. medio-picta f. alba

White Striped Century Plant

This striking agave with its creamy, whitish-yellow, central leaf color and bluish-gray margins grows three to four feet tall. It has…

The plant is drought-resistant and only needs occasional water. During the hot, dry summer, irrigate it every week or two. It…

Agave americana var. striata

Striped Century Plant

This is one of the rarest and most beautiful of all the agaves. It foliage is blue-gray with creamy white markings…

The plant takes full sun or partial shade and tolerates drought, but prefers occasional irrigation, especially during the hot, dry season. It…

Agave angustifolia var. marginata

Caribbean Agave

This agave forms a dense rosette of sword-shaped, greenish-blue foliage reaching three to five feet tall and six feet wide. It…

Plant the Caribbean agave in full sun to partial shade in a protected area. This agave is susceptible to freezing temperatures in…

Agave attenuata

Foxtail Agave

This graceful accent plant has light, bluish-green, smooth, pliable foliage that forms a rosette of growth to five feet tall and…

The foxtail agave should be planted in partial shade to avoid sun-burning the foliage. While drought-resistant and salt-tolerant, it likes additional…

Agave bovicornuta

Cow Horn Agave

The plant grows three feet tall and four to six feet wide, and is recognized by its satin-like, darker green to…

It likes filtered sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. Avoid planting it in areas with reflected heat; and keep…

Agave bracteosa

Squid Agave

This low-growing agave with an irregular appearance reaches heights of about two feet tall and wide. It has an interesting clumping…

The squid agave likes full sun or filtered shade and should be planted in well-draining soil. This plant tolerates extreme heat…

Agave colorata

Blue Ice Agave

This agave is admired for its striking, broad, powder blue leaves with distinct impressions and spiny brown teeth along the margins…

The blue ice agave tolerates salty air, full sun, reflected heat, and some partial shade. However, it develops a nicer form…

Agave decipiens

False Sisal

The false sisal is a dramatic plant that grows five feet tall and wide. It will get much larger to about…

Plant this agave in full sun to partial shade. When planted in the shade it will grow larger and develop a…

Agave deserti

Desert Agave

This clumping plant was an important food source for Native Americans, and grows two feet tall and four to six feet…

The plant needs full sun and tolerates reflected heat. It is drought-resistant, but prefers supplemental irrigation and well-draining soil. The desert…

Agave desmettiana

Smooth Agave

This upright plant forms a beautiful, symmetrical rosette shape with slightly arching leaves and grows three feet tall and wide. It…

It is a fast-growing agave that tolerates full sun with reflected heat, but looks better with filtered shade. It also prefers…

Agave filifera subsp. schidigera

Thread-leaf Agave

This agave is admired for its decorative, dark-green to bronzy-green, sword-like, narrow foliage. The plant grows quickly to two feet tall…

It is tolerant of most soil, but needs adequate drainage. This agave is hardy to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit and is very…

Agave geminiflora

Twin-flowered Agave

This agave has dense, symmetrical foliage that grows in a rosette producing about a hundred or more erect, narrow, dark green…

It is hardy to about twenty degrees Fahrenheit or less, and is adaptable to full sun or partial shade. When planted in…

Agave guiengola

Century Plant

This medium-sized plant is an attractive ornamental that forms rosettes of broad, blue-gray leaves that are thick and succulent looking. It…

This agave prefers a shady location and if planted in full sun, its foliage can sunburn. It is hardy to twenty-five…

Agave havardiana

Havard’s Century Plant

The striking plant has silvery blue to bluish-gray, spiny, wide foliage, tapering to a tip. The teeth are larger towards the…

It prefers full sun to light shade and well-draining soils. It is hardy to ten to fifteen degrees Fahrenheit or lower…

Agave isthmensis

Dwarf Butterfly Agave

This miniature, compact plant grows one foot tall and wide. It has powder blue leaves with prominent dark red teeth and…

Plant it in filtered sun, where it receives morning sun or in full shade, but avoid a location with hot, afternoon…

Agave lophantha

Thorncrest Century Plant

This agave produces single or clumping rosettes reaching two feet high and four feet wide. It is admired for its numerous…

The plant prefers well-draining soil, along with full sun to partial shade. It is hardy to about fifteen degrees Fahrenheit or…

Agave macroacantha

Black-spine Agave

This small agave forms clumps of short, tight rosettes growing one to two feet tall and two to four feet wide…

In cooler climates, the plant tolerates full sun, but does best with some afternoon shade in the low desert. It prefers…

Agave multifilifera

Shaggy Head Agave

The striking agave grows in a single, dense rosette reaching three feet tall with a four to five foot spread. It…

The shaggy head agave is hardy to twenty to twenty-five degrees Fahrenheit. It is very drought-resistant, needing supplemental irrigation occasionally during hot…

Agave murpheyi ‘Variegata’

Variegated Hohokam Agave

This dramatic, versatile, slow grower reaches three feet tall and two to three feet wide with light gray to bluish-green foliage…

Plant the variegated Hohokam agave in full sun with reflected heat or in open shade. It is drought-resistant, requiring irrigation during…

Agave neomexicana

New Mexico Century Plant

This showy, low-growing agave grows two feet tall and two to three feet wide, forming a tight rosette. Its powdery blue…

This agave prefers full afternoon sun and can take plenty of reflected heat. The plant is extremely drought-resistant, preferring occasional water…

Agave nickelsiae x scabra 'Sharkskin'

Sharkskin Agave

This elegant fast-grower is named for its uniformly spaced, leathery leaves that have the texture of shark skin. It is an…

This agave likes full sun with plenty of reflected heat, and is drought-resistant. Water the plant periodically through the hot months. It…

Agave ocahui

Ocahui Agave

This agave, which was used for its strong fibers, grows two to three feet tall and three feet wide. It has…

It prefers full sun with reflected heat, but tolerates shade. The plant is drought-resistant, requiring supplemental irrigation during the hot…

Agave ovatifolia

Whale’s Tongue Agave

The striking agave is admired for its light blue to powdery, whitish-blue and slightly cupped foliage. It grows three to five…

The whale’s tongue agave should be planted in full sun or lightly filtered shade. It is hardy to just below ten degrees…

Agave palmeri

Palmer’s Agave

The plant is recognized by its banana-like fruit and dramatic flower stalks that reach ten to fifteen feet, producing a panicle…

It grows best in full sun with reflected heat. This agave needs very little water, however it benefits from supplemental irrigation during…

Agave parryi

Parry’s Agave

Native to Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico, Parry’s agave produces larger leaves and rosettes than many of its sub-species…

Parry’s agave has a slow growth rate and requires little to no water. This agave does best in full sun…

Agave parryi v. truncata

Artichoke Agave

Artichoke agave resembles an artichoke, as its common name implies. This slow-growing, clumping agave is native to southern Chihuahua and…

Artichoke agave tolerates most soil as long as it is well-draining. It enjoys full sun and reflected heat but can…

Agave pelona

Mescal Pelon

This beautiful and rare species forms a dense rosette of narrow, toothless, glossy green leaves with a white margin and prominent…

This agave is heat-tolerant and can be planted in full sun or partial shade. It is also drought-resistant, requiring deep, infrequent…

Agave phillipsiana

Grand Canyon Century Plant

This bluish-green to deep green agave grows to three feet high and wide with serrated teeth along its edges and looks…

It likes full sun and will take plenty of reflected heat. This agave is very drought-resistant but prefers supplemental water during…

Agave potatorum

Butterfly Agave

The short-growing plant forms an interesting symmetrical rosette and well-defined leaves reaching one to two feet tall and two feet wide…

The plant enjoys full sun, hot conditions, reflected heat, and well-draining soil. Though it is drought-resistant, provide it with supplemental irrigation during…

Agave salmiana

Maguey de Pulque

This magnificent agave has huge, graceful, greenish-gray, curving leaves with a large leaf base. It grows five to six feet tall…

It likes full sun to partial shade and is cold hardy into the mid twenties Fahrenheit or lower. Some forms are…

Agave shawii

Coastal Century Plant

The plant has attractive, fleshy, dark-green, leaves with sharp, serrated, brown teeth along its edges and a dark reddish-brown terminal spine…

It is drought-tolerant and likes full sun but prefers partial shade, especially in our hot desert climate. This agave prefers minimal…

Agave stricta

Rabo de Leon, Hedgehog Agave

The Mexican native agave grows two to three feet tall and wide, creating a spherical rosette of elongated, dark greenish-yellow, lightly…

It enjoys full sun to shade conditions, but prefers some shade in the low desert. The plant is extremely drought-tolerant and…

Agave victoriae-reginae

Queen Victoria Agave

This rare, striking agave, named for Queen Victoria in England, forms a small, symmetrical, rosette of dark green foliage with white…

The plant is hardy to twelve degrees Fahrenheit, and likes full sun and reflected heat. It is extremely drought-resistant but prefers monthly…

Agave vilmoriniana

Octopus Agave

Octopus agave is a medium to large accent plant, growing to 4 feet high by 6 feet wide. The leaves…

Octopus agave is quite drought-tolerant once established, and it can grow in low desert regions of Southern Arizona without supplemental…

Agave weberi

Weber Agave

This bold agave grows moderately to five to six feet tall with an equal spread, offering grayish-green to shiny, bluish-green…

The Weber agave enjoys full sun to partial shade, but looks better when grown in full sun. This specimen plant is…

Agave zebra

Zebra Agave

The relatively fast-growing, medium-sized plant reaches three to four feet in height and width and offers interesting bands of pale, grayish-blue…

It is drought-tolerant and hardy to about fifteen to twenty degrees Fahrenheit. Avoid over-watering it, especially during the winter. It also likes…

Agave ‘Blue Glow’

Blue Glow Agave

Blue Glow is a hybrid that produces a glow-like appearance in bright sunlight. It grows two feet tall and wide, forming…

The blue glow likes filtered shade and light protection from the sun, especially in the Southwest. It is hardy to the…

Aloe arborescens

Candelabra Aloe, Torch Aloe

This decorative aloe is armed with many sharp, dense teeth along its margins. It is an upright plant with dark green…

It is hardy to the mid twenties Fahrenheit. If frosted back, it recovers quickly in the spring. The candelabra aloe is…

Aloe brevifolia

Shortleaf Aloe

The low-growing, clumping aloe is stem-less and grows eighteen inches tall and nine to twelve inches wide. It forms small, tight…

This aloe prefers filtered shade with morning sun and may sunburn in full sun. While drought-resistant, provide additional irrigation throughout the…

Aloe dawei

Dawe’s Aloe

This evergreen jewel has clumping, upright clusters of elongated succulent stems and green, fleshy leaves with dark serrated teeth along the…

It is hardy from twenty-five to thirty-two degrees, and like most aloes, it is very drought-resistant. While tolerant of heat and sun…

Aloe dorotheae

Sunset Aloe

This low-growing aloe with stiff, shiny leaves grows two to three feet tall and twenty inches wide, producing many offsets. It…

The plant likes full sun to light shade, but its leaf color becomes redder in full sun. Sunset aloe is drought-resistant but…

Aloe ferox

Cape Aloe

This common tree-type aloe is an impressive desert accent plant noted for its medicinal qualities and reaches heights of ten feet…

The plant likes full sun but tolerates shade. It is drought-resistant and requires only supplemental irrigation during the hot, dry summer…

Aloe lineata

South African Aloe

This compact, tropical, medium-sized aloe grows two to six feet tall and two to three feet wide, forming many clusters as…

Aloe maculata

African or Tiger Aloe

This fast, low-growing aloe produces short, stem-less rosettes and many offshoots that grow in low clumps. This plant will grow rapidly…

The plant likes to grow in sandy or gravelly soils and needs good drainage. It takes full sun, but does better…

Aloe marlothii

Flat-flowered Aloe

The large, impressive, single-stem aloe grows to ten feet or more. The plant has a broad base and tapers as it…

The plant grows best in full sun and well-draining soil. It is able to withstand long periods of drought because of…

Aloe striata

Coral Aloe

The plant has attractive, broad, bluish-green, smooth leaves and coral red blossoms. It grows two to three feet tall and two…

It prefers full sun or partial shade and well-draining soil. Protect it from reflected heat during the hot, dry summer. Coral aloe…

Aloe tomentosa

Hairy Green Aloe

This aloe gets its name from its unique greenish-white flowers that are covered in thick wool. Its species name, tomentosa, means…

The plant likes full sun and reflected heat. It is drought-tolerant, but likes some supplemental irrigation during the warmer seasons. The…

Aloe vanbalenii

Van Balen’s Aloe

This low-growing aloe forms many tight, dense rosettes reaching two feet tall and three to four feet wide. It develops many…

The plant likes full sun to light shade and regular irrigation during the hot season. Keep it on the dry side…

Aloe variegata

Partridge Breast Aloe

This dwarf aloe with spotted white and green leaves resembles the breast of a partridge, as its common name implies. It…

Plant the partridge breast aloe in full sun to partial shade and in well-draining soil. This plant likes infrequent irrigation. It…

Aloe vera

Medicinal Aloe

This is probably the most common aloe grown in the southwest desert, and reaches eighteen inches to two feet tall and…

This plant likes full sun and reflected heat, but also takes shade and is tolerant of drought. It prefers occasional irrigation, especially…

Aloe x nobilis

Gold Tooth Aloe

The low-growing, clumping aloe reaches about one foot tall and wide with many clustering offsets. It has thick, succulent, short, green…

The plant likes full sun to light shade and is hardy to about twenty degrees Fahrenheit. It is drought-resistant, but like…

Aloe ‘Blue Elf’

Blue Elf Aloe

This tight-clumping, dwarf aloe offers a dense rosette and grows to eighteen inches tall and two feet wide. It is mainly…

The plant likes full sun to partial shade, and is drought-resistant, but prefers occasional, supplemental irrigation during the hot, dry season. It…

Beaucarnea recurvata

Ponytail Palm

Ponytail palm is a grass-like evergreen with a large, bulbous base, long, swollen trunk, and palm-like features. It grows to heights…

Do not over-water this plant or let water sit around its roots. It also prefers well-draining, dry, sandy soils and full…

Dasylirion acrotrichum

Green Spoon

Green spoon is an excellent accent plant that blends well with many other desert shrubs and ground covers. It can…

Plant green spoon in the fall or early spring in full sun or partial shade in the low zones. Plant…

Dasylirion quadrangulatum

Toothless Desert Spoon

This mounding grass-like shrub grows six to nine feet tall with an equal spread. It produces long, flat, narrow, leathery, green…

The toothless desert spoon grows best in full sun with reflected heat. It does not look very attractive when grown in…

Dasylirion wheeleri

Desert Spoon

This long-lived accent plant grows slowly to form a dense rosette of silver-blue foliage, to 4 feet tall and wide…

Desert Spoon thrives in full sun and reflected heat and even tolerates some shade and humidity. Plant in soil with…

Fouquieria columnaris

Boojum tree

The distinguished, rare, and slow-growing tree has an unusual growth habit and appearance with its tall and upright stature. It grows…

It likes full sun with reflected heat or partial shade. The boojum tree grows naturally in volcanic, rocky, desert soils and…

Fouquieria macdougalii

Mexican Tree Ocotillo

The interesting and rare, semi-evergreen is admired for its intertwined, spiny green branches. It grows upright and slowly to twenty feet…

The plant likes well-draining soil, full sun to partial shade, and plenty of reflected heat. It is drought-resistant but produces abundant…

Fouquieria splendens

Ocotillo

This tall, graceful deciduous shrub with long canes grows slowly to twenty feet tall with a fifteen-foot spread. It has spiny…

This plant likes full sun and reflected heat and needs little water once established. A newly planted ocotillo requires water once…

Hesperaloe funifera

Giant Hesperaloe

This excellent, slow-growing evergreen has an erect, bold, striking growth habit. It produces stiff, narrow green leaves that form a massive…

The plant is hardy to about five degrees Fahrenheit or lower. It is drought-tolerant when established and can go for a long…

Hesperaloe parviflora

Red Yucca, Yellow Yucca

The medium-sized, evergreen produces stiff, dense clumps of leathery, gray-green leaves that when blooming, grow three feet high and wide in…

It is a tough plant that thrives in full sun with reflected heat, but can also take light shade. This accent…

Manfreda maculosa

Rattlesnake Agave

The dramatic succulent grows to eighteen inches tall and one to two feet wide to form a tight, clumping rosette of…

The plant prefers full sun or light shade. It is drought-tolerant but likes supplemental water during the hot, dry season. Let…

Nolina matapensis

Tree Bear Grass

This lush-looking, tree-like specimen grows from nine to fifteen feet tall and about six feet wide. It produces a trunk with…

Plant the tree bear grass in full sun, reflected heat or partial shade locations. Avoid planting it near pedestrian walkways as…

Nolina microcarpa

Bear Grass

The evergreen accent plant is a great choice for desert and transitional gardens, forming a bold, grassy clump to about five…

The plant is hardy to ten degrees Fahrenheit or lower. It takes full sun to part shade and likes well-draining soil. Bear…

Nolina nelsonii

Blue Nolina

The stunning, architectural beauty resembles the yucca species, developing a ten- to twelve-foot trunk and large rosette of foliage. It…

The plant enjoys full sun with plenty of reflected heat or light shade. It is drought-resistant during the winter months but…

Yucca aloifolia

Spanish Bayonet

Spanish Bayonet is a large, sprawling yucca. In Southern Arizona, it reaches an average height of about 10 feet tall…

Plant Spanish bayonet in full sun or partial shade in low-traffic areas. This plant is very sharp and can be…

Yucca baccata

Banana Yucca

This yucca was named for its edible, banana-shaped fruit that was a historic food source for Native Americans. The plant grows…

This tough, durable plant is hardy to seventeen degrees Fahrenheit or below. It likes full sun, reflected heat, but also grows in…

Yucca brevifolia

Joshua Tree

This magnificent, slow-growing plant is the largest of all the yucca species, reaching thirty feet or more in height with a…

The Joshua tree prefers a sunny location with fast-draining soils. It is drought-tolerant but needs additional watering once or twice during…

Yucca brevifolia subsp. jaegeriana

Dwarf Joshua Tree

This dramatic evergreen has a smaller, stouter trunk than Yucca brevifolia, growing six to twelve feet tall with a denser, more…

This plant enjoys full sun, reflected heat and is drought-resistant. It is hardy from about sixteen to twenty-two degrees Fahrenheit. This yucca…

Yucca elata

Soaptree Yucca

This historic yucca grows six to twenty feet tall or more with an erect, upright trunk and spreads eight feet wide…

This slow-grower is hardy to zero degrees Fahrenheit, and likes full sun and reflected heat. It is drought-tolerant and survives on natural…

Yucca faxoniana

Faxon Yucca

This slow-growing yucca reaches fifteen feet tall with a ten-foot spread to form an upright, attractive trunk and distinctive rosette with…

Grow it in well-draining soils, full sun, and somewhere with reflected heat. The plant is drought-resistant and can take extremely hot…

Yucca filifera

Palma China, St. Peter’s Palm

The dramatic, fast-growing landscape specimen with a massive base towers to heights of fifteen to twenty feet. It has sharp, pointed…

Plant it in full sun to light shade and in well-draining soil. It is drought-tolerant, but likes supplemental water during…

Yucca gloriosa

Spanish Dagger

The fast-growing, tropical-looking yucca grows ten feet tall and eight feet wide and can form single or multiple trunks. It has…

It likes sandy, well-draining soils and full sun, but tolerates partial shade. Provide supplemental water every few weeks to keep its…

Yucca recurvifolia

Pendulous Yucca

This single-stem or sometimes multiple-stem plant grows to six feet and is recognized by bluish-green, pendulous leaves that have a sharp…

This attractive yucca likes full sun or light shade conditions. It prefers well-draining soils and occasional irrigation. This plant does not…

Yucca rigida

Blue Yucca

This yucca is a valued plant for desert gardens because of its stiff, flat, powdery blue leaves. It is a tall…

It is hardy to five degrees or lower. The blue yucca likes full sun, reflected heat, and grows best in rocky, desert…

Yucca rostrata

Beaked Yucca

The spectacular bloomer grows ten to fifteen feet tall, forming an attractive, thatched trunk and branching towards the top of the…

This yucca is extremely hardy to minus twenty degrees Fahrenheit. It enjoys full sun or partial shade and is drought-resistant. The…

Yucca thompsoniana

Thompson Yucca

This amazing, slow-growing plant resembles Yucca rostrata but is somewhat smaller, reaching six to twelve feet tall and six feet wide…

This plant likes full sun and reflected heat. It grows in any soil, including rocky slopes that are dry and exposed, but…

Yucca torreyi

Torrey’s Yucca

This picturesque plant, which is one of the most common yuccas found in western Texas, reaches eighteen to twenty feet tall…

The plant likes full sun to light shade. It is hardy to ten degrees and is drought-tolerant, but it grows quickly…