Best Garden Flowers for Albuquerque’s 310 Average Days of Sunshine

Best Garden Flowers for Albuquerque's 310 Average Days of Sunshine

Albuquerque is blessed with 310 days of sun a year – perfect for growing a garden with cheerful flowers. With so much sunshine, it would be a shame not to fill your yard with color, fragrance and beauty.

But not all flowers thrive in intense sun and dry climates.

Follow this guide to select fabulous flowers that will soak up all that sunlight and add beauty to your landscape.

Know Your Gardening Zone

To pick plants adapted to your area, you first need to know what growing zone you live in. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map divides up the country based on each area’s average annual extreme minimum temps.

Albuquerque falls within Zone 7, with average winter lows of 0°F to 10°F. Focus on flowers rated for Zone 7 to get the best results with less work. Varieties native to the Southwest are naturally used to the climate, soil and sunlight levels they’ll encounter in your yard. Incorporate some of these hardy plants for practically guaranteed success.


Lantana comes in a rainbow of bright colors like yellow, orange, red, pink, purple and white. It thrives with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight every day. Some varieties bear flowers in multiple colors, while others have blooms all the same hue. Lantana handles heat very well, making it a fantastic choice for Albuquerque’s hot climate.


Given full sun exposure, zinnias can reach up to 3 feet tall. But some types also grow just fine in partial shade. Plant breeders have developed disease-resistant cultivars that stand up to humid southern summers. Most zinnias take heat in stride, though a few are prone to powdery mildew. Lots of zinnias self-seed freely. Hummingbirds find their flowers irresistible, so they’re a must for any butterfly garden. They bloom quickly from seed, providing cheery color all summer into fall.


Nothing says summer like sunflowers, fittingly named for their love of sunlight. Some varieties can grow over 10 feet tall, so pick a smaller type if needed. Dwarf and mid-sized selections like ‘Soraya’ give you bright, happy flowers and yummy seeds without overwhelming the yard. ‘Soraya’ reaches about 6 feet tall but stays sturdy thanks to its strong stems.

Dahlberg Daisy

Dahlberg daisy thrives in its native hot, dry habitats in southern Texas and northern Mexico. Give it a sunny spot with well-drained soil, and it will flourish for weeks with minimal water once settled in. Start the seeds indoors and transplant outside after frost danger has passed – it can’t handle freezing temps. Use Dahlberg daisy in borders, hanging baskets or as a living edging around lawn areas. Its petite blooms and fragrant, delicate foliage are gorgeous up close.

Annual Vinca

You’ll find annual vinca in many colors including white, pink, red, purple, lavender and combinations of those hues. Bright green leaves set off the continuous 5-petaled blooms to perfection. Annual vinca reaches about 15 inches wide and tall. It’s an unfussy plant that doesn’t require deadheading faded blooms. It tolerates partial shade but does best in full sunlight. Once established, it also handles some drought. Butterflies don’t seek it out, but annual vinca still provides nectar when they stop by. For carefree groundcover, try one of the trailing vinca varieties.


In frost-free climates, pentas can grow year-round as a perennial. But they’re more commonly used as annuals. Pentas are easy to find at most garden centers and simple to grow. Butterflies of all sizes flock to their clustered tiny star-shaped blooms to sip the nectar. For best results, grow pentas in full sun to light shade and keep the soil moist, especially when first planted.


With proper care, peonies can thrive even in dry conditions, contrary to popular belief. Take care when siting peonies in your landscape. Watch for trees that might eventually grow and block the sunlight peonies need. Their impressively large, fragrant flowers make them a treasured cut flower too. Peonies can reach 3 feet tall and wide. They prefer full sun but accept partial shade. An added bonus – peonies are resistant to damage by deer and rabbits.


The spiky blooms of beardtongue, also called penstemon, add striking color to drought-friendly gardens in spring and summer. Depending on variety, each flower spike is dotted with many tubular blooms in soft pink, rose, magenta, purple, red or other hues. Hummingbirds love their beauty and nectar. Most penstemon are tough, unfussy plants. Grow them in any sunny, well-drained spot. They appreciate a bit of extra water during hot weather.

Russian Sage

Russian sage is a standout in gardens and landscapes with its soft lavender-blue flower wands and fine texture. Often considered a perennial, this small shrub flowers in late spring into fall depending on location. It lures bees, butterflies and hummingbirds but deer and rabbits pass it by. You can grow Russian sage anywhere from Zone 3 to 10. Plant it in warmer climates and it blooms year-round. Colder zones see it go dormant in winter until spring. Despite its drought tolerance, Russian sage thrives best in full sun, neutral to alkaline soil and hot summers.

Fernleaf Yarrow

A hardy perennial, fernleaf yarrow grows happily in nearly any sunny location, even poor soil. Feathery, fragrant leaves form a bushy clump from which tall stems emerge in early summer, covered in big clusters of golden yellow blooms. Deadheading spent flowers regularly encourages more blossoms. The flowers work beautifully fresh or dried.

Bobus Tips for Success

  • Choose plants bred for full sun and hot, dry regions like Albuquerque’s. Takes the guesswork out of picking flowers suited to your environment.
  • Make sure soil drains well. Amend heavy clay with compost to improve drainage before planting.
  • Irrigate plants right at the roots with drip lines or soaker hoses to avoid evaporation waste.
  • Spread mulch around plants to retain moisture and insulate roots. Organic mulch also nourishes the soil.
  • Group plants according to their sun and watering needs to simplify care.
  • Plant in spring or fall when temperatures are milder. Avoid setting out new plants in summer’s intense heat.
  • Give tender young plants temporary shade until their roots establish.
  • Prune or pinch back leggy growth to encourage full, sturdy plants that withstand wind and storms.
  • Inspect plants daily for pests like aphids that can multiply quickly. Address problems early before they get out of control.
  • Deadhead spent blooms to promote more flowers. Allowing seeds to form shortens bloom time for many flowers.
  • In intense climates, choose light rose, white, yellow or pastel flowers that reflect sunlight rather than absorbing heat.