Oct
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Plant of the Month

Lion’s Tail
Leonotis leonurus

  • Plant Form: Semi-evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3 – 6 ft. tall x 2-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (Aug), Fall (Sept-Nov)
  • Native to: South Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 20°F

This is a fun plant all around, showing off its curious rounded flower buds that look like miniature orange pumpkins nestled inside green cups — right in time for Halloween. The fur-like covering and edges of Lion’s Tail flowers do look reminiscent of lions’ tails or lions’ ears. While the prolific flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, they do not attract browsing deer and rabbits.

Lion’s Tail is prized for its dazzling, tubular flowers covered with a fur-like coat of fine hairs, said to resemble either lions’ tails or lions’ ears. Tiered whorls of orange blossoms encircle the square stems, which are covered with dark green, lance-shaped leaves. The abundant flowers are a magnet for hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, but seem to resist browsing by deer and rabbits. Cut flowers are good in arrangements. Plants are not fussy about soil type as long as it is well drained. This easy-care plant is virtually pest-free and disease-free. Prune yearly after flowering, and mulch well over winter to protect the wood crown from cold. If this more tender plant freezes back in winter, new growth often resprouts from hardened wood. Use this striking plant in borders and beds, containers, cottage and Mediterranean gardens, and even for screening.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for October

Sep
1
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Plant of the Month

Yellow Bells, Esperanza
Tecoma stans ‘Gold Star’

  • Plant Form: Semi-deciduous shrub
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 4 – 6 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring – Fall (Apr-Nov)
  • Native to: Florida, Texas, W. Indies, Mexico, Central & South America
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15-20°F

This eye-catching shrub is a true show-stopper…not only for human admirers, but also for hummingbirds and butterflies. Its golden yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers appear in flushes from late spring to fall. Pinching off old flowers and seedpods encourages repeat blooming.

Yellow Bells, or Esperanza, impresses everyone with its large clusters of golden yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers, bending the branch tips into arches with their weight. The profuse, 1 to 2-inch-long blossoms attract hummingbirds and butterflies with their fragrance and nectar. This heat-tolerant, drought-tolerant shrub is related to our Desert Willow, while its lush deep green leaves resemble those of elderberry. Blooming occurs in flushes from late spring into fall, producing 8-inch-long string bean-like pods. Prune or pinch off old flowers and seedpods for repeat blooming and to maintain a bushy plant. Several cultivars are available with various flower colors and plant sizes from 3 to 25 feet tall. While all Yellow Bells love heat, most have frost-sensitive leaves, but their roots survive much colder temperatures. Cut back annually when new growth starts in spring to remove frost damaged foliage; plants will recover quickly. Beautiful as an accent, container plant around patios, or planted in masses in beds and borders.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for September

Thorncrest Agave
Agave univittata (A. heteracantha, A. lophantha)

  • Plant Form: Succulent
  • Water Use: Very low, low
  • Mature Size: 1.5 ft. tall x 2 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (Aug), Fall (Sept-Oct)
  • Native to: Southern Texas, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0-10°F

When you find a plant that can take intense heat, extreme cold, full sun, very little water, and no maintenance, you have a winner. Thorncrest Agave is one of those plants. It looks great almost anywhere it is tucked into the landscape, either as an accent or focal point, in rock or cactus gardens or even in containers.

Thorncrest Agave is an attractive, small, rosette-forming succulent. Its dark green leaves have a pale green mid-stripe, and their edges are lined with sharp teeth. Several cultivars are available with various shades of color-stripe patterns of white and light or dark green. Green to yellow flowers are born on the 12-foot stalk of mature plants. Known also as Thorncrest Century Plant, this slow-growing plant takes many years to bloom, but like most agaves, each plant only flowers once, and dies soon afterwards. Numerous “pups” are produced around the base, and each of those continues to grow. Propagation is easy from these offsets. Plant in full sun to moderate shade in well-drained soil, and irrigate only occasionally. This handsome species is great as an accent, focal point, container plant, or barrier plant in sunny or partially shaded sites in rock gardens, cactus gardens, and native plant gardens.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for August

Jul
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Plant of the Month – July

White Sagebrush, Silver Wormwood
Artemisia ludoviciana

  • Plant Form: Evergreen sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (July-Aug), Fall (Sept)
  • Native to: North America
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to <0°F

White Sagebrush spreads to fill in those bare spaces between shrubs while providing a silvery contrast to darker green plants around it. This North American native groundcover is extremely hardy, tolerating poor soils, heat, and drought.

White Sagebrush is grown for its beautiful silver-white foliage. This attractive groundcover’s native range extends from Canada to Mexico. It spreads by underground stems (rhizomes) to create a bushy clump. Although its small yellow flowers are inconspicuous, its silvery, felt-covered foliage is valued to complement neighboring green foliage and is useful in cut flower arrangements or in dried arrangements (dry stems first by hanging upside-down in a dark room). The crushed leaves are wonderfully aromatic, and are resistant to browsing by deer and rabbits. This fast-spreading plant combines well with almost everything, but if it spreads beyond your wishes, soil barriers can be used to keep it inside borders. Although this sage tolerates heat, drought, and poor soils, it does require well-drained soils. Shear plants to revitalize them. Use under roses and shrubs, in beds and containers, on slopes, and in butterfly, moonlight, cottage, herb, and rock gardens.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for July 

Jun
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Plant of the Month – June

Velvet Centaurea, Purple Bush Dusty Miller
Centaurea cineraria

  • Plant Form: Evergreen sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Very low, low
  • Mature Size: 2-4 ft. tall x 6-8 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), early Summer (June)
  • Native to: Italy
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15-20°F

This drought-tolerant, low water-use plant not only complements all the plants around it, Velvet Centaurea is also a show-stopper on its own, producing brilliant purple flowers above silvery-white foliage covered in felt-like hair. Top this with its tolerance for heat, poor, dry soils, and frost, plus its resistance to browsing by deer and rabbits, and you have a winning combination that will perform for you in seemingly impossible situations.

Velvet Centaurea has been called a “Dusty Miller on steroids” due to its vigorous growth. Most garden plants either have brilliant flowers or striking foliage that complements all the plants around them. This beauty has both traits. Fluffy, purple, thistle-like flowers are held at the tips of whitish stems (great for cutting). Prized for its lacy, silvery-white foliage covered in felt-like hair, this fast-growing, shrub-like perennial looks fantastic next to bright-flowering plants or plants with dark green foliage. Thriving in heat and poor, dry soils (even clay soils), this Italian native actually prefers sun and low fertility soil for its best performance. Trim it back hard after flowering to keep it from getting leggy. While enduring drought, it also handles frost, resists browsing by deer and rabbits, and attracts butterflies and bees. Use as a groundcover or filler between plants of contrasting color, in background plantings, on slopes, in rock gardens, and even in dry, neglected side yards.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for June 

May
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Plant of the Month – May

Blue Emu Bush, Blue Bells
Eremophila hygrophana ‘BlueBells’

  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall x 3-6 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Late Summer (Aug), Fall (Sept-Nov), Winter (Dec-Feb)
  • Native to: Australia
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 25°F

Blue Emu Bush has been described as the perfect shrub: one that blooms throughout the year, thrives in hot temperatures but handles frost, needs no pruning, and even tolerates drought. Its only potential weakness is overwatering; let it dry out between watering, giving it deep, infrequent watering once a week in summer, twice a month in spring and fall, and once a month in winter. Avoid planting in shade. Hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies love the nearly continual blue-violet flowers (year-round where no frost occurs), and the fuzzy foliage reflects heat to retain moisture. This plant is often mistaken for other silver-leaved “sages” like Texas Rangers that hail from the southwest U.S., but Emu Bushes are from Australia and are not related. Blue Emu Bush provides vivid color and silvery foliage to contrast with dark green plants along walkways and patios, in rock gardens, cactus gardens, in containers, and most anywhere you want lasting color.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for May