Sep
1
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Plant of the Month

Russian Sage
Perovskia atriplicifolia

Russian Sage tolerates all the challenges of southwestern landscapes: high heat, cold, drought, and poor soils–and even resists browsing by rabbits and deer.

  • Plant Form: Deciduous perennial
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 3-4 ft. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer – Fall (June – September)
  • Native to: Asia (Afghanistan to Tibet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -20°F

Russian Sage is a hardy, drought- tolerant, heat-loving perennial that is underused in southwest landscapes. Small but brilliant violet-blue flowers seem to float in an airy cloud above its foliage from summer until a hard frost. Neither Russian nor a sage, the gray-green leaves of this mint family plant are aromatic when crushed, which helps to repel rabbits and deer. It tolerates almost any soil, from clay to sand, as well as salty and highly alkaline soils. This finely-textured plant blends perfectly with our southwest natives, working equally well in dry desert landscapes, cottage gardens, and Mediterranean gardens. Cut back plants almost to the ground in late winter to early spring as soon as new growth appears. This sturdy plant is great as a background planting, in singles or in clusters. It also performs nicely in linear rows as small divider hedges, or as a large-scale ground cover. Russian Sage beautifully compliments succulents, ornamental grasses, and other perennials.

 

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for September

Chaste Tree
Vitex agnus-castus

Chaste Tree offers abundant, fragrant lavender flowers in summer, and a magnet for butterflies, bees, and birds.

Chaste Tree offers abundant lavender flowers in summer, and draws butterflies, bees, and birds to its fragrant blossoms.

 

  • Plant Form: Deciduous shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 15-25 ft. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: S. Europe, W. Asia
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Chaste Tree is a beautiful large shrub or small tree with a profusion of fragrant lavender flowers in summer that attract butterflies, bees, and birds. Deep green leaves are divided into 5-7 lace-like leaflets, and the foliage is aromatic. Medieval legends tell of monks grinding the seeds of Chaste Tree (also called Monk’s Pepper) to use like pepper to help them maintain their vows of chastity. Chaste Tree is heat and drought tolerant, pest resistant, and very easy to grow. Stimulate a second flush of flowers in late summer by removing spent flower spikes before they seed. Regularly prune all dead wood and lower limbs in winter to produce an attractive multi-trunked tree. This broad, spreading plant can be trained to make a screen, hedge, or border when in rows, or used singly as a multi-trunked shrub or small specimen tree. Can also be grown in containers.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for August

Jul
3
0

Plant of the Month – July

Butterfly Bush
Buddleja davidii
  • Violet-purple flower spikes provide spectacular summer color and attract butterflies and hummingbirds into the garden.

    Violet-purple flower spikes provide spectacular summer color and attract butterflies and hummingbirds into the garden.

    Plant Form: Deciduous shrub

  • Water Use: Low, Moderate
  • Mature Size: 6-8 ft. tall x 4-6 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August), Fall (September – November)
  • Native to: Asia
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -20°F

 

Butterfly Bush is valued for its showy flowers in summer and fall, when most other shrubs are done blooming. Fragrant purple flowers grow in spikes from July to October on long, arching stems of this tough, bushy, fast-growing shrub. This prolific nectar plant attracts hordes of adult butterflies, but gardeners hoping to provide habitat for these winged jewels also need to install host plants that their larvae rely on to grow into new butterflies, such as milkweeds (butterfly larvae cannot survive on Butterfly Bush). While Butterfly Bush can be invasive in wetter parts of North America, it does not appear to spread in desert areas. Prune back hard in late winter or spring to stimulate vigorous new growth, maintain better shape, and produce superior flowering. Use as a background planting, specimen, or in containers in butterfly and hummingbird gardens, and in cottage or Mediterranean gardens. New compact cultivars are available for smaller gardens and borders.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for July

Jun
1
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Plant of the Month – June

For a dramatic statement in your landscape that takes very little water or maintenance, Desert Spoon offers a reliable option…either as a single accent or as a stunning mass planting.

Desert Spoon

Dasylirion wheeleri
  • Plant Form: Cactus/Succulent
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 4-6 ft. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring (May) – Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, northern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

Desert Spoon is beloved as an architectural workhorse in desert landscapes. This yucca-like plant has hundreds of long, narrow leaves edged with small, sharp teeth (so plant away from walkways and patios), each leaf starting from a spoon-shaped base, hence its name. Rosettes of younger plants are stemless, but older plants may develop a trunk up to 6 feet tall. Desert Spoon has both male and female plants, with flowering stalks up to 12 feet tall producing thousands of either male or female flowers. Both attract crowds of eager pollinators, including native bees, flies, wasps, and butterflies. Desert Spoons don’t flower every year, but happily, they do not die after flowering like many of their relatives. Dead leaves can be removed for a look reminiscent of pineapple, or left for a more natural-looking trunk. Dramatic as an accent in rock gardens or in large containers. Stunning if mass planted in larger landscapes.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for June

May
1
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Plant of the Month – May

Large, eye-catching flowers adorn this carefree shrub that performs impressively in extreme conditions with almost no maintenance, taking drought, poor soil, wind, and heat in stride.

Bicolor Rock Rose

Cistus x cyprius var. ellipticus f. bicolor
  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3-4 ft. tall x 4-7 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring (April-May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Bicolor Rock Rose looks so elegant in bloom that it may fool you with its sturdy, easy-care nature. This rock rose tolerates drought, poor soil, drying winds, and desert heat. Clusters of large, white, crepe-like flowers with golden “eyes” and five burgundy spots cover this evergreen shrub from late spring to summer. Although each flower lasts only one day, buds are so abundant that bushes produce an endless procession of color for two or three months. This low-maintenance plant is best pruned in late winter after threat of frost has passed. Its growth habit of being both upright and widely sprawling make it ideal for use on dry slopes as a groundcover, as well as for borders and low hedges. Charming in both Mediterranean-style gardens and cottage gardens. Adds evergreen beauty to rock gardens, and performs great in containers.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for May

Golden Barrel Cactus
Echinocactus grusonii

Everything about this plant makes it a desert gardener’s delight: extreme drought-tolerance, very low maintenance, suitability for both formal and casual landscapes, attractive clumping habit, and glowing spines for added interest.

  • Plant Form: Cactus/succulent
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 1.5 ft. tall & 2 ft. wide (3 ft. tall and wide in very old plants)
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Central Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 18°F

Golden Barrel Cactus is one of the most popular cacti in cultivation today—one look, and you’ll know why. Bright golden spines line the ribs of this spherical cactus, which lights up in the sun. Older specimens produce offsets around their base, eventually forming large clusters with dozens of individual heads. Yellow flowers form late spring to summer in a ring at the top of the plant on larger, mature plants only, peeking out of the dense patch of white woolly hair that protects the top of the barrel. Planted in mass, these whimsical plants create a dramatic effect, even giving the illusion of rolling hills in a flat landscape. Golden Barrels keep getting more beautiful as they grow, needing very little care or water, and usually only suffer if they get not enough sun or too much irrigation. Plant groups close together among large rocks for impact. Wonderful in containers on sunny porches and in atriums.

 

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for April