Jul
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Plant of the Month – July

Pencil Cholla
Cylindropuntia ramosissima

  • Plant Form: Cactus, succulent
  • Water Use: Extremely low, very low
  • Mature Size: 5-6 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May)
  • Native to: California, Baja California, northwestern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Pencil Cholla provides a nearly maintenance-free, sculptural addition to your southwest garden while satisfying your native pollinators with its springtime flowers.

Pencil Cholla can be either erect and treelike, or trailing on the ground with rising branch tips. It also expresses its individuality in the number of spines it produces, with some plants having no spines, others sporting sparse spines, while still others are completely covered in long, thin spines. No matter their appearance, all Pencil Chollas have these things in common: they need very little or no added water or maintenance, they resist deer and rabbits, and the surface of their branches appears divided into flat, squarish or diamond-shaped tubercles – hence its other common name, Diamond Cholla. Its pink, orange, or brownish flowers attract butterflies and other beneficial pollinators. This fairly tidy cactus drops far fewer joints or dried fruit segments than other chollas, but it is still best when planted away from foot traffic. Use this cactus to add sculptural interest to rock gardens, bird and butterfly gardens, succulent gardens, and any southwest design landscape.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for July

Jun
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Plant of the Month – June

Golden Yarrow
Eriophyllum confertiflorum

  • Plant Form: Perennial sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May), Summer (June-August)
  • Native to: California, Baja California
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 5°F

Welcome this easy-to-grow California native plant into your flower beds, borders, or rock gardens for months of bright color. Golden Yarrow attracts butterflies and other pollinators, but resists browsing by rabbits and deer, and thrives happily in arid soils.

 

Golden Yarrow is especially welcome in the garden because of its long blooming season. This compact perennial or small shrub is a highly variable plant, with northern California forms looking much different than central or southern California plants. The slender, numerous stems support woolly, deeply-lobed leaves, and are topped with slightly rounded flower clusters each holding up to 30 flower heads. The golden-yellow flowers provide months of bright color, attracting bees and butterflies. Golden Yarrow is easy to grow, has no serious pests or disease issues, tolerates clay soil, and happily resists browsing by rabbits and deer. It needs very little water once established, and benefits from being cut back to 3-4 inches after flowering to maintain a compact form. This drought-tolerant beauty brightens up flower beds and borders, rock gardens, Mediterranean gardens, and butterfly gardens, especially when planted in groups or massed.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for June

May
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Plant of the Month – May

Mojave Aster
Xylorhiza tortifolia 

  • Plant Form: Perennial sub-shrub
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May), Fall (October)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Whenever anyone comes across this beauty in a hot, dry, rocky landscape, it almost takes your breath away. Invite it into your garden, and make everyone happy…including the butterflies and other pollinators.

 

Mojave Aster adds unexpected color to the normally harsh habitat where it grows naturally. In your garden, the long-stalked flower heads on this perennial sub-shrub hold two-inch-wide, yellow-centered, lavender-petalled flowers that are beautifully iridescent. After plants are established with regular water, they like a summer drought, but expect them to drop some leaves (they won’t like summer water after established). Mojave Aster needs very good drainage of sandy, rocky, gravelly, dry soils. Either late summer rainfall or pruning can stimulate a second flowering in fall. Butterflies and other pollinators can’t resist the flowers, but luckily this California native resists browsing by rabbits. Mojave Aster is lovely in borders, wildflower gardens, rock gardens, bee and butterfly gardens, dry washes, and as a companion plant to cacti and other xeric plants.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for May

Apr
1
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Plant of the Month

Blue Palo Verde
Parkinsonia florida 

  • Plant Form: Tree
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 20-30 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 12°F

The beautiful green trunk of Blue Palo Verde is not only a striking sculptural addition to your landscape, but its green bark allows this drought-tolerant tree to keep manufacturing sugars for growth even if its leaves have dropped from lack of water in summer.

 

Blue Palo Verde is prized as much for its unique green branches and trunk as it is for the masses of lemon-yellow flowers that cover this fast-growing tree in spring. Its green limbs allow this graceful but thorny tree to continue to carry on some photosynthesis when its small leaves drop due to drought or cold. A popular hybrid of this species known as ‘Desert Museum’ has no spines. Palo Verde is so drought tolerant, it needs very little or no irrigation after becoming established. Prune to showcase its beautiful branching, but avoid pruning heavily at any one time to maintain its growth structure. Desert birds including hummingbirds and verdin love to nest and raise their young in Palo Verde trees. This extremely popular tree provides filtered shade all year, and can be used as a sculptural focal point or shade tree in many garden styles.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for April 

Showy Penstemon
Penstemon spectabilis 

  • Plant Form: Perennial herb
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 2-4 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May), Summer (June)
  • Native to: Southern California, Central California, Baja California
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

You will love this prolific bloomer as much as butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficial pollinators do. This easy-care, fast-growing perennial herb can produce hundreds of blue/purple/pink flowers per stem, and needs little to no added water after becoming established.

Showy Penstemon knocks you out with its spectacular blue, purple, and pink flowers, while their wide-mouthed, tubular blossoms also attract butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other beneficial pollinators. The upper half of their leafy stems can produce up to 100 flowers—what’s not to love? This fuss-free, fast-growing perennial herb is easy to grow and needs little to no added water once established. Cut back stems after early flowering, but allow later flowers to set seed for new plants. Water every 3-4 weeks or not at all after established. While it has no serious pests or disease issues, it is susceptible to root rot if kept in wet, poorly-drained soils. Showy Penstemon provides charm at the back of dry borders and beds either singly or in masses, in hummingbird and butterfly gardens, Mediterranean and cottage gardens, and in bold groupings.

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for March 

Linear-leaved Goldenbush
Narrowleaf Goldenbush
Showy Goldenbush

Ericameria linearifolia

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Very low
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

Butterflies, birds, and gardeners love the showy spring flowers that this California native goldenbush lends to native desert gardens, while resisting browsing by rabbits and deer and requiring no added water after becoming established.

Linear-leaved Goldenbush is a moderately fast-growing, erect shrub that is highly branched. One of its common names, Showy Goldenbush, was inspired by its prolific spring display of bright yellow, daisy-like flowers on long stems above dark green foliage. The aromatic, resinous, linear leaves of this California native deter browsing by rabbits and deer, while its radiant flowers attract butterflies and other pollinators. It is evergreen, but may drop some leaves during extended droughts. Valued today to achieve a natural look in landscaping, it was prized by Native Americans as a decoction to treat rheumatism. Works well as an accent, in a mixed border, or used in a mass planting for butterfly or bird gardens, as well as on slopes for erosion control.

 

 

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for February