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!

 

Society Garlic

This aromatic clumping perennial smells and tastes like garlic--even its edible flowers!

This aromatic, clumping perennial smells and tastes like garlic — even its edible flowers!

Tulbaghia violacea

 

  • Plant Form: Perennial Flower
  • Water Use: Low – Moderate
  • Mature Size: 1 foot tall (with 2-foot flower stalks), 2 feet wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: April – November
  • Native to: South Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 20° F

 

Society Garlic is a fast-growing, clumping perennial with many narrow, blue-green leaves from a central point. Clusters of star-shaped, rosy lavender flowers rise above clumps on 1-2 foot long stems, with peak flowering in spring and summer. May be frost damaged at 20° F, but quickly recovers. The whole plant has a garlic odor, making it bad for bouquets but good for seasoning. Besides its value as a decorative, heat-loving ornamental, the leaves can be used like garlic chives and its bulbs like garlic. Its name is said to come from a notion that you don’t get bad breath from eating it. Its sweet-scented, edible flowers are beautiful in salads. Survives extended droughts, and needs well-drained soil. Tolerates shade, but with little flowering. Ideal plant to dress up an herb garden or rock garden, as well as along borders or in containers.

This cherry, aromatic perennial releases a new batch of cocoa scent each morning.

This cherry, aromatic perennial releases a new batch of cocoa scent each morning.

Chocolate Flower

Berlandiera lyrata

 

  • Plant Form: Perennial Flower
  • Water Use: Low – Moderate
  • Mature Size: 18 inches tall, 2 feet wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun – Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: April – November
  • Native to: Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, and Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 5°F

 

Chocolate Flower smells good enough to eat, but it’s also a cheery, flowering perennial with sprays of yellow, daisy-like flowers (with colorful maroon stripes under each petal) from late spring to fall. This mounding herb blooms at night and early morning, making a new supply of cocoa scent overnight before the petals droop by afternoon. Can be used in a wildflower meadow or as an accent, and likes full sun, but tolerates filtered sun and any soil type with good drainage. Collect seed in summer to propagate more plants, and cut back in winter for fuller plants next spring. The rich scent of the flowers carries quite a distance downwind, and the fragrance of cut bouquets as a nosegay can be appreciated all day. Install near patios or breakfast nook for early morning delight. A must for any chocoholic gardener.