For nearly year-round flower color, consider planting Desert Mallow in borders, massed for brilliant color, or as a specimen plant.

For nearly year-round flower color, consider planting Desert Mallow in borders, massed for brilliant color, or as a specimen plant.

Desert Mallow

Sphaeralcea ambigua

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Perennial/Subshrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 3’ tall x 3-4’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring, Summer, Fall (February – November)
  • Native to: Deserts of southwest U.S. from California to Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and into Mexico (below 7,500 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -10°F

 

Desert Mallow is an easy-to-grow perennial with a relaxed form, even sprawling under the weight of stalks and flowers when in late bloom. This miniature version of a hollyhock comes in many flower colors, but orange is most common, and all make great cut flowers in bouquets. Desert Mallow typically blooms from spring into fall (February to November), but it may bloom year-round in warm areas if given summer water. This evergreen sub-shrub is native to our southwest deserts from California to Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and south into Mexico at elevations below 7500 feet. Its mature size is 3 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Desert Mallow loves full sun, requires very little water, and is cold hardy to -10°F. Small, gray-green leaves have star-shaped hairs that may irritate skin. The abundant flowers produced most of the year provide a steady source of pollen and nectar to honey bees and other insects. Protect from rabbits with a wire cage during establishment. Cut back severely after spring flowering for denser form and repeated bloom. This drought-tolerant and long-blooming native takes reflected heat, and is useful in dry borders, as a specimen plant, lining a wall or fence-line, or massed for brilliant color.

Brittlebush

Encelia farinosa

Brittlebush explodes with color from winter through spring, and after rain, attracting butterflies with its nectar, and later, songbirds with its seeds. Gardeners love iBrittlebush's silvery leaves the rest of the year.

Brittlebush explodes with color from winter through spring, and after rain, attracting butterflies with its nectar, and later, songbirds with its seeds. Gardeners love Brittlebush’s silvery leaves the rest of the year.

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 3’ tall x 4’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Winter to Spring (November – May) and after rain
  • Native to: High & Low Deserts of California (below 3,000 feet), Arizona, Utah, Baja, and Mexico
  • Hardiness: Limbs cold hardy to 25°F; Roots hardy to 15°F

 

Brittlebush is a fast-growing, aromatic, rounded shrub with bright yellow flowers that contrast beautifully with its large, gray leaves. Its silvery foliage is a landscape plus, lovely against cacti or darker green plants. Although Brittlebush is evergreen, it is drought-deciduous, dropping its leaves to save water when the soil is extremely dry for an extended period. Infrequent watering during dry seasons will convince Brittlebush to retain its leaves all summer, but excess watering produces large, short-lived plants. This native sunflower makes a great border or filler, takes reflected heat in stride, and is an excellent choice to prevent soil erosion on slopes. Butterflies sip its flower nectar, and songbirds eat its plentiful seeds. The amber-like sap that drips from damaged branches was collected historically to burn as incense, hence its other name, “Incienso”.

 

Pyracantha, Firethorn

Pyracantha crenatoserrata

This fast-growing, drought tolerant, evergreen shrub keeps giving all year, with bountiful clusters of white flowers in spring to colorful bunches of winter berries in time for holiday decorations--and hungry songbirds.

This fast-growing, drought tolerant, evergreen shrub keeps giving all year, with bountiful clusters of white flowers in spring and colorful bunches of winter berries in time for holiday decorations–and hungry songbirds.

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 15’ tall, 10’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: March – May
  • Native to: China
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 10°F

 

Pyracantha holds landscape interest throughout the year with its generous clusters of white flowers in spring and colorful bunches of large, long-lasting berries in winter, just in time for holiday decorations. Many varieties are available to suit all tastes and applications, from prostrate groundcovers to erect shrubs that accept espalier training. All varieties grow fast and vigorously, with glossy green leaves, thorns, and fruit that varies in color, size, season, and duration. If berry color is important, buy the plants when they have fruit. Flowers and berries are produced only on growth that is at least one year old, so when pruning, leave some of the growth made each year so that you will have flowers and berries. Use as espaliers on walls or fences, as barrier plantings, screens, or hedgerows (or as   groundcovers with low-growing varieties).

 

Velvet Sage, Mexican Bush Sage

Salvia leucantha

Velvet Sage lends beautiful color to fall and early winter gardens -- attracting hummingbirds and human admirers.

Velvet Sage lends beautiful color to fall and early winter gardens — attracting hummingbirds and human admirers.

 

  • Plant Form: Flowering Perennial
  • Water Use: Low – Moderate
  • Mature Size: 4’ tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: March – November
  • Native to: Mexico, Central America
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 20°F

 

Velvet Sage is a graceful mounding shrub that is striking alone or planted in masses. Long, slender spikes of white or purple flowers encased in velvety purple bracts grace the soft branch tips from late summer into fall or early winter. Interesting combination of densely white-pubescent stems and olive-green leaves is attractive. While this drought-tolerant plant likes full sun, it appreciates afternoon shade and deep, infrequent irrigation in summer. Cut plants back after flowering or frost-damage in late winter to keep bushy and stimulate new branches from the roots in spring. Keep in mind Velvet Sage’s pattern of dying back in frost and bouncing back in spring when deciding where to plant this summer beauty. Flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies.

 

Angelita Daisy

Angelita Daisy is a star-performing, long-blooming, drought-tolerant addition to western gardens.

Angelita Daisy is a star-performing, long-blooming, drought-tolerant addition to western gardens.

Tetraneuris (Hymenoxys) acaulis

 

  • Plant Form: Perennial Flower/ Small Shrub
  • Water Use: Low – Moderate
  • Mature Size: 1’ tall, 1-2’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: March – November (year-round in low desert)
  • Native to: Western North America
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 5°F or less

 

Angelita Daisy is a cheery, compact perennial at home either in tight spaces, or used to create impact as a groundcover when planted in masses on 1-foot centers. Slender, dark-green leaves compliment the profuse, golden yellow flowers that grow on leafless stems above the foliage. Remove spent flowers every few months to keep plants looking fresh over their long bloom period. At higher elevations, flowers are concentrated in summer months, but at low elevations, Angelita Daisy blooms all year. Thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. Perfect in rock gardens, borders, containers, parkways, or combined with cacti and succulents.

Red Bird of Paradise

Caesalpinia pulcherrima

A true showstopper when in bloom, Red Bird of Paradise stands up to heat and attracts orioles, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

A true show-stopper when in bloom, Red Bird of Paradise stands up to heat while attracting orioles, hummingbirds, and butterflies.

 

  • Plant Form: Deciduous Shrub
  • Water Use: Low – Moderate
  • Mature Size: 5-8’ tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: June  – November
  • Native to: West Indies
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 18°F

 

Red Bird of Paradise is a show-stopper when in full bloom from early summer to fall. Brilliant orange-red and yellow ruffled flowers contrast strikingly with the deep green, fern-like foliage of this subtropical beauty. Prized for its incredible heat tolerance, and its spectacular bloom in both desert and tropical plant palettes. While it accepts almost any soil, full sun is a must for this luxurious-looking plant. Tolerates drought, but flowers best if given deep watering every two weeks in summer. Because its foliage and stems freeze at about 28 degrees, stems should be cut back nearly to ground level after winter dormancy, just before its surge of new spring growth (you’d never guess it froze back with its fast growth in spring). Attracts orioles, hummingbirds, butterflies…and people!