The Andes – and in particular, the Sacred Valley of Peru – is well known for having rich soil and adequate rainfall, which means it’s easy to grow plants here.
You can make a truly spectacular garden without having to spend much time, water or fertiliser, if you know which kinds of plants grow best in this climate.
Whilst not all of these plants are necessarily native to our valley, they do grow prolifically here, and are very beautiful, in my opinion.
Here are 10 of the best garden plants to grow in the Sacred Valley – all you need to do is get your hands on some seeds or cuttings, and get planting!
Fuchsia boliviana is an absolutely stunning, showy species, native to southern Peru, Bolivia and northern Argentina, producing exotic, hanging clusters of four inch flowers in a stunning combination of pure white and fluorescent red. The long trumpet-shaped blooms open progressively down the cluster for several months, followed, quite incredibly, by tasty green fruits. This is an extremely valuable plant that can either be grown in a large pot or be centre-stage in the garden.
2. Angel’s Trumpet
Brugmansia arborea boast large, beautifully fragrant flowers that give them their common name of Angel’s Trumpets, and they are native to tropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Venezuela to northern Chile. As the hardiest of all species in regards to both cold and drought, Brugmansia arborea are often found in the drier valleys of the Andes, in areas with a relatively low annual rainfall. Since they live at elevations of 2000 to 3000 m, it is not uncommon for them to receive light frosts with no problems.
Nothing smells quite as lovely as honeysuckle after a summer rain! These flowers are double-tongued, opening white and fading to yellow, and are sweetly honey scented. They grow on bushy vines and make an excellent plant to climb up walls or fences.
Begonias are native to moist subtropical and tropical climates, and can be grown in or outdoors. Their bright colourful flowers can have white, pink, scarlet, or yellow petals and often attractively marked leaves.
5. Peace Lily
Native to the Mediterranean region, this is a flat-leafed plant with a white spade shaped flower. Peace lilies are not true lilies at all, but are rather a member of the Araceae family. Its flowers resemble those of the Calla lily, which makes sense both plants belong to the same family. The reason for its name is because its flower resembles a white flag of surrender.
Also known here as Jamaica or rose of Sharon, this is a genus of flowering plants in the mallow family. Its flowers are large and showy. A tart yet sweet tea made from these flowers is known by many names around the world and can be served hot or cold. The best thing about hibiscus? It’s packed with vitamin C!
Daisies can come in the form of shrubs, vines, or even trees. The family has a worldwide distribution, from the polar regions to the tropics, colonizing a wide variety of habitats. They need at least 6 hours of sunshine a day, which isn’t usually a problem in our climate here. You can choose from any number of colours, from white and yellow to pink, purple and orange. Chamomile (manzanillo) is also in this family and grows easily here.
Hydrangea macrophylla is a species of flowering plant in the family Hydrangeaceae, native to Japan, and features puffs of white, pink, purple or blue flowers. It is widely cultivated in many parts of the world in many climates, and its colour is affected by soil pH.- an acidic soil (pH below 7) will usually produce flower colour closer to blue, whereas an alkaline soil (pH above 7) will produce pinker flowers.
9. Calla Lilies
These are easy to grow and add an elegant look to perennial gardens, cutting gardens and container plantings. Their smooth, sword-like foliage stays neat and attractive all season long.
Calla lily flowers emerge in mid to late summer and last for weeks. And did you know that you can choose from many colours, including classic white, yellow, orange, pink, rose, lavender and even dark maroon. Whether they’re in the garden or in a vase, Calla lilies are elegant and always impressive.
10. Cacti & Succulents
Several cactus species can be found around the Valley, including Aloe Vera and San Pedro, of course! But there are plenty of gorgeous succulents that grow well here too, such as Aeonium Sunburst, Tom Thumb and Lamb’s Ear. These are all perfect for drier, sandier soil with lots of sun.