Plant Nursery

Desert Survivors Native Plant Nursery is located on the banks of the Santa Cruz River in Tucson. We grow well over 400 species of bioregional plants. We have chosen to define bioregional as plants which are native to within 500 miles of Tucson. This allows us to grow plants from the Sonoran Desert, Chihuahuan Desert, and Mohave Desert, although our primary focus is on plants native to southern Arizona. Over the years, plants of various desert origin have been offered at Desert Survivors, but we have decided to grow only plants indigenous to our region. Native plants give us a sense of place, and are important to supporting native pollinator populations and fauna.

As Arizona is the 3rd most biodiverse state in the United States, we are not at a loss of species to choose from. In fact, over 600 species are native to the Tucson Mountains, over 1000 species are native to the Rincon Mountains and over 1250 species are native to the Santa Catalina Mountains. And this is just the diversity found within 50 miles of the Nursery, not to mention the rest of southern Arizona.

Desert Survivors Native Plant Nursery also feels that is important to being as ecologically sensitive as possible, and thus we use organic gardening practices. We use only certified organic fertilizers, herbicides and fungicides in the production and maintenance of the plants that we grow onsite. We do not use pesticides, except for a minimial amount of Safer Spray on a handful of juvenile plants that seem to be insect magnets (such as native milkweeds – once these plants are bigger we are happy to let the aphids symbiotically interact with the plants). By not using chemical pesticides, we have observed that beneficial insects generally take care of any insect problems onsite. Also, insects are typically cyclical and they will only eat plants during a specific interval. Often, the damage caused by insects stimulates growth hormones in the plants to produce extremely healthy growth the following season. (These comments do not apply for Agave boring beetles, Palo Verde root borers, etc., but give our basic philosophy of looking at insects as good) Although it costs more money to buy these high quality organic supplements, it is worth it for our staff, employees, the plants as well as the earth that we grow on.

We are also huge fans of volcanic soil supplements and have been quite impressed with the results of using volcanic cinder and lava sand in our soil mixtures. Again, spending a little extra money on quality soil supplements is well worth the results. Volcanic supplements are rich in minerals which seems to be readily released into the soil, as well as being porous and well drained. The drainage is what has been key in having success with many different species. Although we are not able to grow all of the plants that we sell on our small three acre plot, we estimate that we produce about 70% of everything here onsite. It is our goal to expand our growing areas offsite at some point, and be able to grow all of our own plant material.

Our inventory includes a wide selection of trees, shrubs, subshrubs, grasses and vines. We now have our entire Plant List on the web!

We have native plants for native birds and insects, including:

Plants for Birds

Plants for Hummingbirds

Plants for Butterflies

Native Trees

Native Grasses


Desert Survivors has been working with the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum on the Kino Heritage Fruit Tree Project - learn more.

Why We Can’t Sell Native Morning Glory Vines


1020 West Starr Pass
Tucson AZ 85713
Hours: 8AM to 5PM, Tue. - Sat.
Phone: 520-791-9309


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