May
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Plant of the Month – May

Firecracker Penstemon,
Eaton’s Firecracker,
Scarlet Bugler

Penstemon eatonii

Firecracker Penstemon is a hummingbird magnet that is also prized by gardeners for its brilliant, abundant flowers.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 2 feet tall and wide (flower stalks 2-4 feet tall)
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Late winter – spring (Feb – June)
  • Native to: S. California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

Firecracker Penstemon is irresistible to hummingbirds due to its nectar-filled, brilliant, scarlet flowers. It is among the first to bloom in spring, providing an early-season nectar source for hummingbirds. This low-growing, shrubby perennial produces a mound of rich, dark green leaves from which tall stalks of flowers emerge, the tubular flowers usually hanging to one side of the inflorescence. Grows best in well-drained soil with full sun, as shade can cause plants to sprawl. Overwatering may cause the plant to rot. Harvest the flowering spikes in summer when seed capsules are dry to scatter seeds to start new plants. The basal rosette of leaves will remain attractive year-round. Plant in masses for a stunning display (and to drive hummingbirds crazy), or as accents against cacti, boulders, or rock walls.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for May

Mar
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Plant of the Month – April

Warley Rose Rockrose

Cistus x crispatus ‘Warley Rose’

This spreading groundcover gets rave reviews from gardeners for its brilliant flowers and for its tolerance of heat, drought, cold, and poor soils.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen groundcover
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1 – 2 feet tall  x 5 feet wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Apr – June)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Warley Rose Rockrose will dazzle you with bright pink, crepe-paperlike flowers with golden, fuzz-ball centers that adorn its deep green, crinkled foliage. This low, mounded, evergreen shrub is named for its preferred native habitat of rocky, relatively poor soil on scrubby hillsides in Mediterranean Europe, and is perfect for sunny, dry, hot situations. Like all rockroses, it is a very drought resistant, sturdy plant that requires little maintenance, shuns fertilizer, and doesn’t like too much summer water. Prune lightly to shape after flowering, but don’t cut into wood, as it may not resprout. Warley Rose Rockrose thrives in full sun and well-draining soil, and is a great groundcover, border edging, or rock garden plant. Works well in containers. As a bank cover, this spreading plant helps control erosion.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for April

White Evening Primrose,
Tufted Evening Primrose

Oenothera caespitosa

This lush desert groundcover is surprisingly drought-tolerant due to its deep roots. It’s large, beautiful flowers attract pollinators all night, then say goodbye each day with a fading pink farewell.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen groundcover
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 6 – 12 inches tall  x 2 – 3 feet wide
  • Exposure: Full or filtered sun
  • Bloom Time: On & off all year; most prolific in Spring, Summer, Fall (Apr – Sept)
  • Native to: Western U.S. and Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

White Evening Primrose creates masses of fragrant, four-inch wide, snow-white flowers each evening that attract night-flying pollinators like hawk moths. Throughout the next day, we can enjoy each one-day flower that opened at dusk as it ages from white to pink before closing in the heat of day. Plants form a rosette of large, fuzzy, dark-green leaves. While short lived (usually three years), this plant is fast-growing, and easily reseeds. Replace when plants begin to decline or die out. White Evening Primrose requires excellent soil drainage and a little supplemental water in summer, but too much summer water will kill it. Trim off dead leaves and seedpods. This southwest beauty makes a delightful border flower in small spaces, entryways, and patios, and offers a colorful accent in rock gardens.

Bulbine,
Shrubby Bulbine

Bulbine frutescens

Bulbine is becoming more and more popular due to its drought resistance, fast growth, tolerance of poor soils, and repeated blooms of cheerful flowers that are yellow or orange, depending on the variety.

  • Plant Form:Evergreen succulent groundcover
  • Water Use: Low – Moderate
  • Mature Size: 1 ft. tall x 2-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full or part sun
  • Bloom Time: Yellow-flowered plants:
    ~ Fall – Spring (Oct – Feb);
    Orange-flowered cultivars:
    ~ Spring – Summer (Mar- Aug)
  • Native to: S. Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Bulbine is a clumping, succulent groundcover that spreads by underground stems called rhizomes. Its thick, fleshy leaves equip it to withstand long periods of drought. Yellow or orange flowers on 12 to18-inch stalks hover over the mass of leaves in late fall to spring (in yellow-flowered plants), or spring through summer (in orange-flowered ‘Hallmark’ & ‘Tiny Tangerine’ cultivars). Each star-shaped flower flaunts a ball of fuzzy filaments in its center. Deadhead flowers to encourage continual bloom. This fast-growing perennial fills out quickly, and can be propagated from cuttings to fill in aging portions. After extended frosts, new leaves will quickly replace damaged foliage in spring. Bulbine is best planted in masses and in rock & cactus gardens. It is great in containers that can be moved during hard frosts.

 

Copper Canyon Daisy,
Mexican Marigold

Tagetes lemmonii

Copper Canyon Daisy is an aromatic, long-blooming relative of marigolds whose long-lasting flowers shine throughout winter months and attract butterflies.

  • Plant Form: Herbaceous evergreen perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3-5 ft. tall x 4-6 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun or part shade
  • Bloom Time: Year-round; Heaviest bloom
    Fall – Winter (Sept – Jan)
  • Native to: Southern Arizona, northern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 5°F (roots); 20°F (foliage)

 

 

Copper Canyon Daisy is highly aromatic, releasing a strong fragrance when its foliage is rubbed or brushed against, which is likely the reason that rabbits and deer leave this plant alone. Yellow-orange, daisy-like flowers develop in fall, and provide intense color through late fall, winter, and into early spring, if not damaged by frost. Lacy, dark green foliage is tipped with fragrant oil glands, which release a scent reminiscent of typical marigolds. Cut plant back hard in late winter or spring after blooming subsides to remove any frost-damaged foliage, to promote dense growth, and to keep it a nice shape. This drought-tolerant plant appreciates a little irrigation, but too much water or too little light can produce leggy plants with sparse flowers. Plant Copper Canyon Daisy back from high traffic areas, due to its brittle stems. While not long-lived, this fast-growing plant works well in the background to set off shorter plants in front.

Red Fairy Duster,
Baja Fairy Duster

Calliandra californica

Bring color and hummingbirds into your yard with Red Fairy Duster, a long-blooming, lacy-leaved evergreen shrub.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 5 ft. tall x 5-6 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Year-round; Heaviest bloom
    Fall – Spring (Sept – Apr)
  • Native to: Baja California, Sonora Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 20°F

 

Red or Baja Fairy Duster produces exotic, feather duster-like flowers made up of clusters of deep red stamens that hummingbirds can’t resist. In fact, hummingbirds are extremely territorial of Fairy Dusters to protect their year-round nectar. Its criss-crossing branches are clothed with feathery leaflets that resemble miniature ferns, and which fold closed each night. Its seed pods look like brown snow peas. Fairy Dusters are evergreen if given light water weekly or deep water once a month in dry seasons (they drop their leaves if drought- or cold-stressed). Excessive water promotes leggy growth, yellow leaves, and reduces flower display. Flowers can appear almost continually, but heaviest bloom occurs in spring and fall. Some twig damage may occur below 20°F; prune back after frost in late spring. Red Fairy Duster is great as an accent, in borders, or massed as groundcovers. Their fine-textured foliage sets off more robust plants like cacti and succulents.