The smooth, white bark of this drought-tolerant, long-lived plant is a beautiful benefit of this cold-hardy, heat-tolerant, tree-sized shrub. Mountain Mahogany is useful for erosion control on slopes, as a screen or border, or as a specimen plant.

Mountain Mahogany
Cercocarpus betuloides

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 8-15 ft. tall x 10-12 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May)
  • Native to: California, Oregon, Baja California (below 6,000 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -30°F 

Mountain Mahogany is a large, upright, evergreen shrub or small tree with beautiful, smooth, light gray bark. Small, wedge-shaped leaves with toothed edges resemble birch leaves, giving this plant its other name, Birch-leaf Mountain Mahogany. Its small, cream-colored, rose-like flowers are inconspicuous, but its seeds create a spectacular display in late summer and fall. Each seed has a feather-like tail that curls up like a corkscrew as it ripens; when backlit, the abundant seeds create an ethereal glow to the whole plant. Its roots are nitrogen-fixing, making the plant good for revegetation. Mountain Mahogany tolerates drought, poor soils, extreme cold and heat, and is free from pests. It does appreciate some supplemental water, especially during the summer. Useful alone as a specimen plant or massed along parkways.This long-lived plant can be pruned into a compact shrub, hedge, or tree form. Great on slopes for erosion control, as a screen or border, or as an accent.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for November

This tough and tidy perennial sub-shrub brings long-lasting color to borders, rock gardens, and even containers and flower boxes. Since the flowers turn a rusty color in age, you get a variety of hues with each plant.

Sulfur Buckwheat
Eriogonum umbellatum

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall x 1-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Oct)
  • Native to: California, Western North America, Central Canada (4,000 feet – 10,000 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Sulfur Buckwheat creates a big garden impact despite being such a diminutive plant. This exceedingly variable species can vary from a small perennial herb only 3 inches tall to a sprawling shrub over 3 feet across, with flowers white, cream, or sulfur-yellow depending on the variety. All have loose mats of mounding grey foliage, with blankets of umbrella-like flowers on short stalks. Blossoms mature to orange or rusty red in fall and persist on the plant, giving the illusion of an extremely long bloom season of variable color. These low, mat-forming perennials from dry mountain slopes are extremely tolerant of both heat and cold, and thrive in dry, hot, exposed sites, needing good drainage and very little water after becoming established. Check with your nursery for the best variety for your particular garden. Sulfur Buckwheat shines in rock gardens with other compact, evergreen shrubs, and in the front of dry, sunny, mixed borders, as well as in containers.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for October

Desert Willow is not a true willow, but its graceful linear leaves have the appearance of a willow. Despite this tree’s willow-like leaves, its orchid-like flowers show its catalpa origins. This long-blooming, sturdy desert tree attracts hummingbirds to its lovely flowers, and uses very little water in your yard. Our desert tortoise LOVES eating the flowers, which bloom until he returns to his den for hibernation each fall.

Desert Willow, Desert Catalpa
Chilopsis linearis

  • Plant Form: Deciduous tree
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 15-25 ft. tall x 18-20 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Apr-May), Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Oct)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Mexico (below 5000 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

Desert Willow is a fast-growing, multi-trunked tree or large shrub that twists and leans as it reaches skyward, creating an interesting, open crown in age. Its long, narrow, bright green leaves give a willowy appearance, but this deciduous tree is actually a catalpa. Orchid-like, nectar-rich flowers attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, and are followed by long, tan seedpods, which persist on the branches throughout winter dormancy. Ruffled, funnel-shaped flowers range from white to dark pink to burgundy, depending on the cultivar (pale pink in our local natives). Tolerates extreme heat and drought, but appreciates some summer water up to twice monthly. Great for sites where you need summer shade, but want winter sun, such as on a south-facing side of your home. Train into a shade or specimen tree with single or multiple trunks, or direct its growth as a large shrub with many branches as a windbreak, screen, or background planting.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for September


This under-appreciated southwest native plant is one of the most hardy, drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant, frost-tolerant, pest-free plants available for southwest gardens. Useful as an evergreen hedge, as a backdrop in naturalistic gardens, in mixed plantings, or as a specimen…you are sure to be pleased with this unfussy native plant.

Jojoba, Goatnut
Simmondsia chinensis

  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Extremely Low
  • Mature Size: 6-8 ft. tall x 8-10 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Winter (Feb), Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Mexico (between 0 – 4,900 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

Jojoba is a long-lived, slow-growing dense evergreen shrub that is one of our most drought-tolerant, heat-tolerant native plants. Thick, leathery leaves grow upward so that only their edges face the sun during the hottest part of the day, reducing heat gain and moisture loss from leaf surfaces. Non-showy flowers on female plants produce acorn-like fruits containing a liquid wax prized as a stable lubricant for industrial applications, and for cosmetic and scalp preparations. Male and female flowers grow on separate plants, so fruits only develop on female plants with male plants nearby. Although wind-pollinated, bees collect pollen from male plants. This undemanding shrub has no pests, needs no maintenance, and requires no added water after it is established. Young plants may be cold sensitive, but mature plants are cold hardy. Jojoba’s dense foliage is perfect for screening or informal hedges. Great in naturalistic landscapes, in mixed plantings, or as a specimen.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for August


Plant of the Month – July

Honey Mesquite should be called the “giving tree” for its abundant gifts to wildlife, humans, the soil, and the environment. Its nutritious seed pods have fed wildlife and people for millennia, its bacterial root partners add essential nitrogen to the soil, its branches provide habitat to countless animals, and its pollen is made into delicious honey by bees.

Honey Mesquite
Prosopis glandulosa var. torreyana

  • Plant Form: Deciduous tree, shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 15-25 ft. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June-Aug)
  • Native to: California, SW United States, Mexico (between 0 – 5,600 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

Honey Mesquite is a graceful, winter-deciduous tree/shrub with multiple trunks and feathery leaves that provide cool, filtered shade from spring to fall. Yellow catkin-like flowers in spring produce nutritious, tan, pea-like seed pods in late summer that have been made into sweet flour and cakes for millennia. Bees make delicious honey from the flowers, and bacterial root partners fix nitrogen, enriching the surrounding soil. Stems develop long, paired thorns, especially on young branches. Water deeply and widely under the outermost branch tips to encourage a deep, extensive root system that can secure trees in strong winds. With its broad, rounded, weeping habit, this architectural tree is worthy as a focal point in both high and low desert gardens. Use in natural groupings to shade and cool patios and porches, or as a specimen tree.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for July


Plant of the Month – June

This low, rounded shrub with gray-green, spoon-shaped leaves has a double treat from its blue flowers that emerge from whorls of magenta flower bracts.

Mojave Desert Sage, Desert Purple Sage


Salvia dorrii


  • Plant Form: Evergreen Sub-Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall x 2-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (May), Summer (June-July)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington (between 2,500 – 8,500 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Mojave Desert Sage is an aromatic, native “shrublet” with striking blue-violet flowers that emerge from purplish, ball-shaped flower heads along the stems. This compact, herbaceous perennial is impervious to rabbits and deer, while enticing all types of bees, pollinators, butterflies, and hummingbirds. A compact, moderately fast-growing sub-shrub, this gem of a plant has a wonderful minty aroma, released when the silver-gray, spoon-shaped leaves are rubbed. This evergreen plant usually spreads wider than high. Mojave Desert Sage is a heavy bloomer that loves the hottest, most challenging sites in your yard. Trim off seed heads and lightly prune to shape after flowering. While more water results in more flowers, be careful not to water in summer. This mint-family treasure can be used for borders, accents, bank stabilization, and in gardens designed for butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and birds.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for June