May
1
0

Plant of the Month

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

Apr
1
0

Plant of the Month

Blue Palo Verde
Parkinsonia florida 

  • Plant Form: Tree
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 20-30 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 12°F

The beautiful green trunk of Blue Palo Verde is not only a striking sculptural addition to your landscape, but its green bark allows this drought-tolerant tree to keep manufacturing sugars for growth even if its leaves have dropped from lack of water in summer.

 

Blue Palo Verde is prized as much for its unique green branches and trunk as it is for the masses of lemon-yellow flowers that cover this fast-growing tree in spring. Its green limbs allow this graceful but thorny tree to continue to carry on some photosynthesis when its small leaves drop due to drought or cold. A popular hybrid of this species known as ‘Desert Museum’ has no spines. Palo Verde is so drought tolerant, it needs very little or no irrigation after becoming established. Prune to showcase its beautiful branching, but avoid pruning heavily at any one time to maintain its growth structure. Desert birds including hummingbirds and verdin love to nest and raise their young in Palo Verde trees. This extremely popular tree provides filtered shade all year, and can be used as a sculptural focal point or shade tree in many garden styles.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for April 

Showy Penstemon
Penstemon spectabilis 

  • Plant Form: Perennial herb
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 2-4 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May), Summer (June)
  • Native to: Southern California, Central California, Baja California
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

You will love this prolific bloomer as much as butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficial pollinators do. This easy-care, fast-growing perennial herb can produce hundreds of blue/purple/pink flowers per stem, and needs little to no added water after becoming established.

Showy Penstemon knocks you out with its spectacular blue, purple, and pink flowers, while their wide-mouthed, tubular blossoms also attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficial pollinators. The upper half of their leafy stems can produce up to 100 flowers—what’s not to love? This fuss-free, fast-growing perennial herb is easy to grow and needs little to no added water once established. Cut back stems after early flowering, but allow later flowers to set seed for new plants. Water every 3-4 weeks or not at all after established. While it has no serious pests or disease issues, it is susceptible to root rot if kept in wet, poorly-drained soils. Showy Penstemon provides charm at the back of dry borders and beds either singly or in masses, in hummingbird and butterfly gardens, Mediterranean and cottage gardens, and in bold groupings.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for March 

Linear-leaved Goldenbush
Narrowleaf Goldenbush
Showy Goldenbush

Ericameria linearifolia

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Butterflies, birds, and gardeners love the showy spring flowers that this California native goldenbush lends to native desert gardens, while resisting browsing by rabbits and deer and requiring no added water after becoming established.

Linear-leaved Goldenbush is a moderately fast-growing, erect shrub that is highly branched. One of its common names, Showy Goldenbush, was inspired by its prolific spring display of bright yellow, daisy-like flowers on long stems above dark green foliage. The aromatic, resinous, linear leaves of this California native deter browsing by rabbits and deer, while its radiant flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators. It is evergreen, but may drop some leaves during extended droughts. Valued today to achieve a natural look in landscaping, it was prized by Native Americans as a decoction to treat rheumatism. Works well as an accent, in a mixed border, or used in a mass planting for butterfly or bird gardens, as well as on slopes for erosion control.

 

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for February

Rush Milkweed, Ajamete
Asclepius subulata

 

  • Plant Form: Perennial sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3-5 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, reflected sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (April-May), Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Nov), Winter (Dec)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Nevada, Baja California, northwest Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 20°F

This southwest native plant not only adds sculptural interest in the garden with its rush-like, erect green stems, it also provides food for Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

 

Rush Milkweed is an erect, perennial herb named for its dozens to hundreds of rush-like, leafless, green stems. Small, narrow leaves appear after rain and on new growth, but fall off quickly. Rush Milkweed blooms periodically throughout year, and is an important food source for Monarch Butterflies, so conservation-minded groups encourage its planting. Fascinating pollen packages are specialized to clip onto legs of insect visitors, and unclip when inserted into another flower.  Pairs of distinctive, horn-shaped, 3-inch-long seed pods follow the flowers, filled with many flat seeds that are covered with long, silky plumes. This milkweed oozes a rubber-containing latex when cut or wounded, which can irritate skin. While moderately easy to grow, this desert native is susceptible to aphids and death by root rot if overwatered. Its strong vertical lines make it eye-catching in desert landscapes, in borders, flowerbeds, and butterfly and rock gardens.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for January

Cape Honeysuckle
Tecomaria capensis

  • Plant Form: Semi-evergreen vine, shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 5-6 (to 15) ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Bloom Time: Fall (Sept-Nov), Winter (Dec)
  • Native to: South Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 23°F

Just when you wished you had some color in your fall-winter garden, Cape Honeysuckle explodes into flower with bright red-orange, trumpet-shaped blossoms. This shrub is happy to be trained into either a vine, espalier, hedge, screen, border plant, shrub, or ground cover — your choice!

 

Cape Honeysuckle explodes into bloom late in the season with a welcomed burst of color. Clusters of red-orange trumpet-shaped flowers attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds, just in time for migration. This beautiful shrub has glossy leaves divided into leaflets, and sprawling, vine-like stems that can be trained against a wall or trellis as an espalier, or sheared into a hedge, screen, or accent shrub. Even with its rambling spirit, it is easy to care for, tolerating heat, drought, and poor soils, all while resisting browsing by deer and rabbits. Blooms best in full sun. In colder areas, it may drop its leaves, while in warmer zones, it is evergreen and may bloom nearly all year. Prune back unruly branches, and cut off old or damaged branches at their base to maintain shape. This versatile plant will let you decide whether it will be a climbing vine, hedge, border plant, screen, shrub, or ground cover. It will even be happy in a container on your porch or patio.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for December