Plant of the Month

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Desert Senna
Senna armata

  • Plant Form: Shrub
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall x 2-4 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (April-May), Summer (June – July)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Nevada, Baja California
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Desert Senna grows shyly as a tight mass of green stems in your garden until spring and early summer, when it bursts out with masses of yellow flowers that will knock your socks off, attracting pollinators from all around the landscape.

Desert Senna is one of those surprising plants that almost disappears into the landscape until it bursts into bloom with an explosion of flowers that can cover almost every inch of the plant. Most of the year, Desert Senna is a tight collection of erect green and gray stems that add vertical texture to the landscape but fool many people into thinking it is dead. Its small leaflets in two to four pairs drop off soon after emerging, leaving its spine-tipped branches naked most of the year. Occasional water will tease out leaves again, but make sure not to overwater, and plant only in soil with excellent drainage. The bright yellow, fragrant blossoms from late spring to early summer attract butterflies, moths, other pollinators, and photographers.  Desert Senna adds spring color in a native or xeric garden, dry washes, butterfly and wildlife gardens, and rock gardens.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for August