Plant of the Month

Century Plant
American Agave
Agave americana

  • Plant Form: Succulent
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 6-10 ft. tall x 10-15 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, reflected sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Mexico, SW US
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Century Plants can make a striking, symmetrical accent or focal point in a large garden space. Just keep in mind how huge it gets before planting it, and always avoid planting it next to driveways, pathways, curbs, or patios. These agaves form expanding circles of pups, grand-pups, and great-grand-pups, so be diligent about digging out and discarding (or giving away) pups when they are small or your yard can be overtaken by a forest of giant agaves.

Century Plant is a large and impressive succulent that forms symmetrical rosettes of fleshy, gray-green, spiky leaves that can grow up to 6 feet long. Named from a belief that it blooms only after 100 years, it actually blooms when plants reach about 15 – 30 years old. The giant flowering stalk with clusters of yellow flowers seems to grow overnight, reaching 20 to 40 feet into the sky. After flowering, the agave dies, but not before producing offsets or “pups” around the base, which continue the cycle: grow, bloom, die, create more pups and grand-pups (which can be transplanted). Century Plants can reach giant proportions, so make sure you take its full size into account before choosing where to plant one. Don’t plant near curbs, walkways, driveways, or patios. You’ll regret planting it anywhere you have to cut its leaves back to safely pass by it. To avoid spoiling its beautiful symmetry, make sure to plant it in the right place. Use care and protection if you must prune it, as the plant sap is very irritating to skin. In the right place, Century Plant is carefree, being tolerant of drought, scorching heat, poor soil, and strong winds. It makes quite a statement in southwest and Mediterranean gardens, borders, containers, in mass, or as a focal point.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for July

Crape Myrtle
Lagerstroemia indica

  • Plant Form: Deciduous tree, shrub
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 2-22 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Nov)
  • Native to: China
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Crape Myrtles are a versatile tree or shrub that brings interest to your yard, especially in summer and fall. Pick from a variety of summer flower colors, including white, pink, rose, red, or purple, all of which make great cut bouquets. Fall brings a flush of colorful foliage before winter leaf drop, which exposes attractive sculptural branching. Happy to live in a container, there is a size and height of Crape Myrtle to fit your individual space.

Crape Myrtle’s claim to fame is its incredibly showy, ruffled flowers, but it has many other admirable qualities. This ornamental shrub or tree offers year-round interest: flowers from summer into fall, fall foliage color, sculptural branching in winter after leaves drop when allowed to grow naturally, and interesting exfoliating bark, revealing a velvety trunk. Many hybrids are available to satisfy a spectrum of needs and preferences for size, height, and blossom color, from knee-high dwarfs to towering shrub-tree forms. These deciduous plants are very low-maintenance if you select the correct variety to fit your space (to avoid constant pruning, which some call “crape murder”). Flower colors range from white to pink, rose, red, and purple. Crape Myrtles are resistant to both rabbits and deer, tolerate most soils, grow well in containers, make great flowers for cutting, are patio friendly, easy-care, water wise and fire wise. Landscape uses include privacy screens, hedges, specimen trees, mass plantings, borders, and containers.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for June

Purple Phlomis
Purple Jerusalem Sage
Phlomis purpurea 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 2-4 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, light shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June-Aug)
  • Native to: Spain, Portugal, Morocco
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

There is so much to like about Purple Phlomis! It thrives in hot, dry areas of your yard while needing very little water, produces unusual but beautiful purple flowers from spring through summer, has leaves so soft you want to pet them, and takes heat and cold in stride.

Purple Phlomis offers a beautiful solution for hot, dry areas of a yard, forming a large mound of wooly leaves with whorls of rose-lavender, hooded flowers skewered in tiers on long spikes of fuzzy stems. Its softness belies it tough nature, since it is drought-tolerant, heat tolerant, cold hardy, low maintenance, resists browsing by deer, and requires very little summer water once established. Butterflies and bees love the flowers, adding good habitat to your yard. The cut flowers make nice bouquets, and after the flowers fall away, the seedpods create interesting dried arrangements. Flowers allowed to go to seed attract songbirds in fall and winter. Cut back to about 1 foot tall in late fall. While this drought-tolerant shrub tolerates some shade, it may get leggy with too much shade. Use as an accent or specimen plant, in borders and beds, or massed in the garden. Ideal plant for rock gardens, butterfly and hummingbird gardens, Mediterranean gardens, and any xeriscape garden.      

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for May

Mexican Blue Sage
Electric Blue Sage
Salvia chamaedryoides 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen perennial/subshrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall x 2-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Oct); heaviest bloom Spring & Fall
  • Native to: Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

This petite, aromatic sage fits perfectly into containers, rock gardens, or dry borders. Mexican Blue Sage attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to its nectar, and attracts human admirers to its electric blue flowers that bloom from spring through fall.

Mexican Blue Sage is a fast-growing, low, mounding perennial that spreads by underground runners. The small silvery-green foliage is a perfect backdrop for its electric blue flowers that are heaviest in the cooler spring and fall months.  Also known as Germander Sage, this beautiful aromatic plant is one of the more petite sages that can be grown in containers. While fast growing, it lasts only a few years. Plant in well-drained soil (no fertilizer), and let the soil dry out between waterings, as it is sensitive to overwatering. Trim off spent flower stalks to encourage continued blooming. Shear in winter to stimulate new lush growth and good flowering the next season. Butterflies and hummingbirds love this sage for its nectar. Tuck this plant into rock gardens or dry borders, preferably close to living spaces.   

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for April



Sundrops, Fendler’s Sundrops
Calylophus hartwegii fendleri

  • Plant Form: Perennial subshrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1 ft. tall x 2 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Oct)
  • Native to: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

This long-blooming, cheery perennial brightens up any space where it is planted. Besides its masses of yellow flowers, you will appreciate Sundrops’ drought tolerance, heat tolerance, and its low water use. Your night-flying pollinators will love it as well. A fabulous addition to rock gardens!

Sundrops cheer up drab spots in your garden, and quickly spread by underground rhizomes into rounded, flower-filled mounds. Masses of yellow 1-2 inch flowers appear over a long season above narrow, bright green leaves. Flowers open in the afternoon and remain open until the next morning, providing nectar to night-flying moths. Each flower lasts 24 hours, and then fades to orange-pink, creating a nice sunset color palette. Cut back the stems of this evening primrose look-alike when it goes dormant in winter to reshape and prepare for new spring growth. This tough plant takes heat and drought, and is attractive between boulders, massed in clusters, or in containers. Plant in well-drained soil, and even though they don’t like to be overwatered, they appreciate a little extra water in summer. Lovely in rock gardens, meadow gardens, borders, beds, on slopes, as a ground cover, or anywhere they can drape over edges.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for March


Plant of the Month

Island Snapdragon 
Gambelia speciosa

  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 3-4 ft. tall x 8-10 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June-Aug)
  • Native to: Channel Islands, CA, & Guadalupe Island, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 30°F

This fast-growing, vine-like California native is easy to grow, whether you leave it to trail out as an excellent ground cover, train it to crawl up a trellis or arbor, or let it lean against other shrubs for height. Hummingbirds love its long, tubular red flowers, which are most prolific if grown in full sun.

Island Snapdragon is a magnet for hummingbirds with its bright clusters of lipstick-red, snapdragon-like flowers on the tips of arching stems from spring through mid-summer. This vine-like perennial, native to several offshore islands of California, is fast growing and easy to grow, developing a dense and sprawling habit. Blooming is heaviest in spring, but occurs intermittently the rest of the year. Flowers hold up well in bouquets. Its long stems can be left free as a groundcover, trained like a vining shrub on latticework, or leaned against other shrubs to grow higher. Island Snapdragon takes full sun but prefers some shade in inland desert areas (although flowers are reduced in shade), and tolerates both heat and drought, requiring little or no summer irrigation. It tolerates irrigation twice a month in summer. Use this dense shrub along borders, on slopes, by patios, as a groundcover, hedge or screen, and in containers.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for February