Plant of the Month – May

Large, eye-catching flowers adorn this carefree shrub that performs impressively in extreme conditions with almost no maintenance, taking drought, poor soil, wind, and heat in stride.

Bicolor Rock Rose

Cistus x cyprius var. ellipticus f. bicolor
  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3-4 ft. tall x 4-7 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring (April-May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F


Bicolor Rock Rose looks so elegant in bloom that it may fool you with its sturdy, easy-care nature. This rock rose tolerates drought, poor soil, drying winds, and desert heat. Clusters of large, white, crepe-like flowers with golden “eyes” and five burgundy spots cover this evergreen shrub from late spring to summer. Although each flower lasts only one day, buds are so abundant that bushes produce an endless procession of color for two or three months. This low-maintenance plant is best pruned in late winter after threat of frost has passed. Its growth habit of being both upright and widely sprawling make it ideal for use on dry slopes as a groundcover, as well as for borders and low hedges. Charming in both Mediterranean-style gardens and cottage gardens. Adds evergreen beauty to rock gardens, and performs great in containers.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for May

Golden Barrel Cactus

Echinocactus grusonii 

Everything about this plant makes it a desert gardener’s delight: extreme drought-tolerance, very low maintenance, suitability for both formal and casual landscapes, attractive clumping habit, and glowing spines for added interest.

  • Plant Form: Cactus/succulent
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 1.5 ft. tall & 2 ft. wide (3 ft. tall and wide in very old plants)
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Central Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 18°F


Golden Barrel Cactus is one of the most popular cacti in cultivation today—one look, and you’ll know why. Bright golden spines line the ribs of this spherical cactus, which lights up in the sun. Older specimens produce offsets around their base, eventually forming large clusters with dozens of individual heads. Yellow flowers form late spring to summer in a ring at the top of the plant on larger, mature plants only, peeking out of the dense patch of white woolly hair that protects the top of the barrel. Planted in mass, these whimsical plants create a dramatic effect, even giving the illusion of rolling hills in a flat landscape. Golden Barrels keep getting more beautiful as they grow, needing very little care or water, and usually only suffer if they get not enough sun or too much irrigation. Plant groups close together among large rocks for impact. Wonderful in containers on sunny porches and in atriums.


Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for April

Spanish Lavender

Lavandula stoechas

Spanish Lavender offers a trio of qualities that gardeners seek: beautiful blossoms, drought tolerance, and fragrant foliage. Add to that rabbit resistance and tolerant of heat, cold, and poor soils, and you have a real winner!

  • Plant Form: Evergreen perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 24 – 30 in. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Feb-May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region and North Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F


Spanish Lavender can fulfill your desire for a durable evergreen plant with bright flowers, enchanting fragrance, drought resistance, and heat tolerance. Both flowers and foliage are wonderfully fragrant. Purple bracts on flower heads appear like rabbit ears, and lend a whimsical look. Spanish Lavender is probably the same plant that the ancient Greeks and Romans used to scent their bath water, and is still popular today for dried aromatics and cut stems in homes. Prune lightly after flowering to stimulate next season’s growth. This water-wise, easy-care plant is perfect in both formal and casual Mediterranean-style gardens, as well as in cottage and wild gardens. It also performs superbly on dry slopes and rocky outcrops. Spanish Lavender attracts butterflies and pollinators, but luckily repels rabbits. Beautiful in large artistic pots, mixed borders, mass plantings, and rock gardens.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for March

Trailing Indigo Bush

Dalea greggii

Trailing Indigo Bush is one of the toughest groundcovers available, resisting drought, heat, and rabbits, while offering soil stabilization on slopes and a durable cover in rock gardens and medians.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen groundcover
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall & 3-9 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Feb-May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: New Mexico, Texas, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F


Trailing Indigo Bush creates a mounding, low-maintenance, easily established groundcover for any arid location. Silvery blue-green foliage adorns this spreading plant that roots at the nodes of long, trailing stems, covering everything in its path and making it especially useful to stabilize slopes. Its tiny, purple, pea-like flowers are not showy from a distance, but butterflies, native pollinators, and humans appreciate their beauty close-up. This durable groundcover shuns fertilizer and overwatering, but some watering in summer helps keep the foliage full. In the late winter or early spring, cut off the stems of last season’s growth to stimulate new growth in spring. Besides being tolerant of drought and reflected sun, Trailing Indigo Bush is happily rabbit resistant. One of the toughest groundcovers available, it is valued on slopes, medians, in rock gardens, and wherever soil stabilization is needed.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for February

Queen Victoria Agave

Agave victoriae-reginae
Queen Victoria Agave_plant_RK

For a stunning accent almost anywhere in your yard, rock garden, on your porch, or in an atrium, it’s hard to beat the elegant form and color of Queen Victoria Agave.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen succulent
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 18 inches tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August) Blooms once after about 10-15 years in the garden
  • Native to: Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F


Queen Victoria Agave is among the most striking century plant species in cultivation, and looks so perfect, you’ll wonder if it’s real. Each thick leaf of the symmetrical rosette is edged with precise white lines wherever the leaves are angled. A single spine finishes the tip of each leaf. Queen Victoria Agave is prized not only for its mesmerizing leaf patterns, but also for its small size and ability to withstand desert heat, drought, and cold. This slow-growing agave may bloom once at considerable age, producing a single 15-foot stalk with reddish-purple flowers, after which the mother plant dies–but not before starting new “pups” from below the rosette. Looks best when watered deeply twice a month in summer and once a month in spring and fall. Like most agaves, this beauty looks great in containers, especially on either side of an entry to view up close. In the ground, it is stunning in rock, cactus, and succulent gardens.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for January

Red Hot Poker, Torch Lily,

‘Christmas Cheer’ Poker Plant

Kniphofia rooperi hybrid
      ‘Christmas Cheer’

‘Christmas Cheer’ Poker Plant blooms in the fall, winter and spring, making it a rather unique poker, and delighting hummingbirds with its nectar during winter in mild climates.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3 – 4 feet tall x  3 – 5 feet wide (flower spikes to 3 – 5 feet tall)
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Fall – Spring (Oct – Feb)
  • Native to: S. Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15 °F

Red Hot Poker is known for brilliant hot scarlet “torches” of flower spikes with yellow bases. The variety ‘Christmas Cheer’ is named for its ability to bloom through cooler weather, blooming in fall, winter and spring, making this a unique ‘red hot poker’ (most others bloom during the summer). While the clumping plant is cold-hardy, the flowers succumb to freezing, so consider planting in containers to move under cover in freezing weather to maintain winter blooms. Summer-blooming varieties are available with no risk of winter bloom damage. Cut spent flower spikes out at their base to make plants more attractive and to promote longer flowering. Butterflies, hummingbirds, and other nectar sippers like orioles are attracted to the tubular flowers. Considered to be one of the best winter hummingbird nectar plants for mild climates. Plant in full sun with good drainage. Eye-catching in borders, rock gardens, containers, wildlife gardens, and fire-wise gardens.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for December