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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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Black Dalea

Dalea frutescens ‘Sierra Negra’

Prized as one of our few fall-blooming groundcovers, Black Dalea’s blanket of purple flowers from late summer to fall attracts butterflies, quail, and bees to the feast.

  • Plant Form: Semi-evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 4 ft. tall & 5-6 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Summer – Fall (Aug – Nov)
  • Native to: Oklahoma & Texas to Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

 

 

Black Dalea is a rare fall-blooming groundcover blanketed from late-summer to fall with purple flowers that attract butterflies and quail to your garden. Its fine-textured foliage of tiny leaflets contrasts nicely with cacti, yuccas, and succulents. This extremely drought-tolerant, fairly fast-growing shrub requires little or no maintenance. Black Dalea resents fertilizer and overwatering, which promote weak growth; it can tolerate light, filtered shade, but may get leggy with too much shade. Since it drops most of its leaves during its winter dormancy, place it near evergreens or succulents to avoid an obvious “hole” in your winter landscape. Shear it fairly hard in late winter to rejuvenate the plant. Pollinators, including bees, love the flowers, so avoid planting close to areas where people gather. Excellent for erosion control on slopes, as a low-maintenance groundcover, an accent plant, and where reflected heat may be too much for other plants.

 

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Woolly Butterfly Bush

Buddleja marrubiifolia

Woolly Butterfly Bush offers double interest in your yard: curious ball-shaped orange flower clusters most of the year that attract butterflies, and striking, silver-green woolly foliage.

  • Plant Form: Semi-evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 5 ft. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Year-round; Heaviest in Spring & Summer (May – Oct)
  • Native to: SW Texas to New Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

 

 

Woolly Butterfly Bush may look odd enough to have some wondering if it had been designed by Dr. Seuss, but its velvety, silver-green foliage is prized by gardeners everywhere. Flowers are ½-inch, ball-shaped clusters of tiny red-orange flowers that attract butterflies and other pollinators. The marble-sized flowers may appear year-round, but are heaviest in spring and summer. Its densely woolly leaves set off the eye-catching flowers, and contrast well with any deep green plants paired with it. The only care it needs may be a light pruning in winter or early spring to maintain shape and promote blooming. Tolerates heat and drought, but over-watering may cause root rot. Unamended soil and good drainage are essential. Makes an excellent accent plant, and a great addition to butterfly gardens.

 

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Whirling Butterflies, Gaura

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Whirling butterflies’

You will imagine butterflies fluttering over this plant when breezes blow through its delicate white to pink flowers on flexible stems.

  • Plant Form: Perennial Herb
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring – Fall (May – Oct)
  • Native to: Central & Western US, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

 

Whirling Butterflies is a Gaura cultivar whose slender, arching stems rise from a basal mound of deep green foliage. Graceful, wand-like flower spikes grow above the foliage and move constantly in the breeze. Pink to red flower buds open to delicate white flowers that fade to pink, appearing to dance in the wind like butterflies. This semi-evergreen perennial has a lovely, airy habit. If its bloom power starts fading in spring or summer, sheer overall for a new flush of flowers. Resists browsing by rabbits and deer, and tolerates heat, drought, and poor soils, but good drainage is essential. This long-lived, low-maintenance perennial likes full sun, but appreciates afternoon shade in low desert areas. A hard prune in early spring before new growth begins keeps it tidy and bushy. Works well in containers, borders, raised beds, wildflower gardens, along the top of a wall, or massed in the garden—and in bouquets!

 

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