Plant of the Month – May


Mojave Aster
Xylorhiza tortifolia 

  • Plant Form: Perennial sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May), Fall (October)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Whenever anyone comes across this beauty in a hot, dry, rocky landscape, it almost takes your breath away. Invite it into your garden, and make everyone happy…including the butterflies and other pollinators.


Mojave Aster adds unexpected color to the normally harsh habitat where it grows naturally. In your garden, the long-stalked flower heads on this perennial sub-shrub hold two-inch-wide, yellow-centered, lavender-petalled flowers that are beautifully iridescent. After plants are established with regular water, they like a summer drought, but expect them to drop some leaves (they won’t like summer water after established). Mojave Aster needs very good drainage of sandy, rocky, gravelly, dry soils. Either late summer rainfall or pruning can stimulate a second flowering in fall. Butterflies and other pollinators can’t resist the flowers, but luckily this California native resists browsing by rabbits. Mojave Aster is lovely in borders, wildflower gardens, rock gardens, bee and butterfly gardens, dry washes, and as a companion plant to cacti and other xeric plants.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for May