What New Mexico Gardeners Need to Know This Spring

Written by Justin Zipprich
Updated: February 20, 2023
© Naya Dadara/Shutterstock.com
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Spring is quickly approaching, so it is time to start preparing your land and gardens for the year ahead. A big part of that preparation is becoming abreast of important details, including the climate and the plants that will grow best in 2023. New Mexico gardeners have a bit of a struggle ahead of them as this spring may hold drought and escalating temperatures, but there are ways to see your gardens thrive. Consider these tips and helpful advice for the upcoming season.

New Mexico Typical Climate Conditions

Snow ski mountain in New Mexico
A lot of New Mexico is hot and dry, but they get plenty of show at higher elevations.

©Roschetzky Photography/Shutterstock.com

The general temperature that many experience in New Mexico can vary greatly based on where they live. Overall, the climate is quite pleasant with an average annual temperature of the mid-50s F. Depending on where you live in the state, there can be extremes. At the highest, it can get to near 120 degrees F and other areas can dip down to 5 degrees F. 

In general, the difference in temperature depends on the elevation of where you reside in New Mexico. Temperatures tend to fall about 5 degrees for every 1,000 foot increase in elevation. 

New Mexico is also a very sunny place. As far as sunshine, it is 2nd only to Arizona as far as days of sunshine per year. Extreme weather conditions are rare and the climate is typically quite dry.

Recent and Severe Weather Patterns in New Mexico

Ever since 2021, when 20% of the state experienced extreme drought and very little rainfall, much of New Mexico has been very dry. Last year, things were just as bad. Although winter brought some storms, those quickly dried out. As of last year, New Mexico gardeners watched as 90% of the state experienced extreme drought. In Albuquerque alone, there were 70 days at a time without rainfall.

The results of the drought are being seen throughout the state. A lack of rain has dried out much of the state’s common plant life, including the pinon tree. To make things worse, there is also an increased threat of wildfires. Gardeners can anticipate similar struggles during spring 2023.

There is some good news. It is the fact that New Mexico gardeners may see some increased precipitation come June, which is typically the state’s “monsoon season” where they see the most rainfall. However, getting to that point may be a struggle for many. 

Gardeners should also anticipate some high heat depending on where they live. As opposed to the higher elevation areas of New Mexico, gardeners in areas below 5,000 feet elevation can expect temperatures above 100-degrees Fahrenheit. Folks in Carlsbad can expect a number of days above 90 degrees, and residents of Corrales will likely also experience some extreme heat, so you will need to consider that in addition to the drought issues.

Tips For Gardening In Dry Weather

watering can on ground
Watering your garden can be tough during a drought, so consider a drip system or consult a planting guide for the best times to plant.


New residents of the area and current New Mexico gardeners can also use the tips that have been passed down from generation to generation to help their gardens survive and thrive. Although it is difficult at times to garden during droughts and hot water, you can still make an impact with these tips.

Consult a Planting Guide

In order for your garden to thrive this spring, you need to know the best time to start planting your vegetables. Since the weather can vary wildly depending on where you are in New Mexico, it is wise to consult a planting guide. Luckily, the folks at the Almanac have created a planting guide for the major cities in New Mexico. Take a look before you get started and find the perfect window for seeding so you can have a successful garden.

Invest In Drought-Tolerant Plants

If you have the choice, then opt to plant drought-tolerant plants and avoid thirsty plants that require more water. Often, plants with long taproots require minimal watering. Some plants to consider include:

  • Lantana
  • Allium
  • Lavender
  • Liriope
  • Liatris spicata (Blazing Star)
  • Euphorbia marginata (Snow-on-the-Mountain)
  • Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian sage)
  • Coneflower
  • Salvia
  • Verbena
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Rudbeckia hirta (Black-eyed Susan)

Improve The Soil

Now that you know that the dry weather is coming, you can also work on improving your soil. Start by mixing in a lot of compost with the soil at planting time. The point is that if you add a lot of organic matter, it slows the transition of the water from the soil, so the plants have more time to absorb what they need.

Plant A Close Garden

If you have a choice of what to plant, then opt for crops that grow low to the soil, especially for vegetable gardens. The lower the plant, the less water it will lose when it gets wet. Also, if possible, plant your plants close together. That way, the leaves from the neighboring plants will shade the soil, which will conserve surface moisture.

Add a Layer of Mulch

The last thing that you want to do is to require your plants to compete with the weeds in your garden because that will eliminate much of the moisture that they require right off the bat. That is why it is always important to diligently weed your garden, especially during a drought. 

Another way to fight off weeds is to lay down plenty of mulch. Apply at least a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch when the soil is wet. With this mulch in place, it will keep the moisture in place and keep weeds at a minimum. However, you will still likely need to manually weed as well. 

Install a Drip System

Many gardeners make the mistake of spraying water into the air to try and cover all of the plants in the garden, but that can be wasteful, especially during a drought. Instead, install a drip irrigation system. You can program this system to water certain parts of your garden independently. Since some plants require more watering than others, you can control how each plant or flower is hydrated. 

Plants to Consider in 2023

cayenne pepper plant
Many vegetables, including peppers and asparagus can do well even in droughts.


Even with the drought conditions, there are some plants and vegetables that New Mexico gardeners should consider as you are likely to see success. These are the species that experts recommend for 2023.


There are many flowers that gardeners can have success with this spring.

Petunias – The gorgeous petunias thrive in high heat, and they can bloom until late November. They are also low maintenance and require all sun to grow, which is perfect for the climate.

Daisies – A great flower for all gardens or yards, daisies can be planted in the fall, and you will see them bloom in the spring. They are also very heat-tolerant and pest-resistant.

Dahlias – The bright and beautiful dahlia is considered one of the easiest flowers to grow. It requires very little water, which makes it ideal for drought.

Zinnia – Very unique and highly heat-resistant, the zinnia is one of the rare flowers that can be planted in early summer, and it will bloom. It also requires less sunlight than many other flowers.


Although they are predicting another hot and dry spring season, there are many vegetables that can thrive in this environment.

Asparagus – Tasty and nutritious, asparagus is also a great plant that will thrive even during droughts. It requires very little water, and it is very low maintenance

Cabbage – Although dryness is inevitable later in the year, the early months can be cold. Luckily, many vegetables thrive in this environment, including cabbage. Plant it in the spring, and it thrives in the summer. 

Squash – A tasty vegetable that thrives in heat and cold is squash. This vegetable is very versatile, and it can often continue to thrive until November. 

Peppers – When it comes to thriving in the heat, you can’t do much better than peppers. Technically, the hotter the temperature, the better peppers can do. They also grow in all types of gardens, including vertical and raised garden beds.

Green Beans – Tasty and hearty, green beans are great for New Mexico gardeners because they require very little water and actually thrive in droughts. They are also great for vertical gardening.

Radishes – Like carrots and other root vegetables, radishes also thrive in droughts. They require very little sunlight, water, or pest care. They can also survive colder temperatures in the case of a cold snap. 


As you can see, it may be a bit of a bumpy road ahead for you and other New Mexico gardeners because of high temperatures and the potential for drought. However, consider this advice, follow these tips, and plant the flowers and vegetables that have the best chance of survival, and you can have a successful garden. We wish the best of luck to you and your crops.

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Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument
Known as the “Land of Enchantment,” New Mexico is filled with stunning scenery and boasts a rich cultural history.
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About the Author

Justin Zipprich is an animal lover who has enjoyed having birds, cats, and dogs as pets. I look forward to sharing my knowledge of the animal kingdom and the natural world with you!

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