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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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!

 

Hummingbird Mint

Agastache ‘Vivid’

Orange and pink-flowered Agastaches attract hummingbirds, while blue-flowered ones are favorites of butterflies and bees. Gardeners love them all.

  • Plant Form: Perennial Herb
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3 ft. tall x 2 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer – Fall (July – Oct)
  • Native to: Hybrid of parents from Southwest US and northern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0-10°F

 

 

Hummingbird Mint could just as well be called “Hummingbird Magnet”, as its spikes of vivid rose-purple flowers are irresistible to these flying nectar-sippers. This group of fragrant, perennial herbs includes various species found mostly across North America and northern Mexico, and horticulturists have been busy crossing them to achieve an astounding variety of hybrids. Flower colors range from blues and purples to pink, rose, and orange. The orange and pink-flowered Agastaches are favorites of hummingbirds, while the blue-flowered ones attract butterflies and bees. All need well-drained, nutrient-poor soil, and like deep, infrequent watering after their second growing season. Remove spent flower spikes to encourage more blooming. Leave stems intact over winter to improve cold-hardiness; trim old stems off just above new foliage in mid-spring, 4-5 inches above ground level. Agastaches work well in borders and beds, butterfly gardens, rock gardens, in pots, or massed in the garden.

 

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Plant of the Month – July

Moonshine Yarrow

Achillea taygetea ‘Moonshine’

Moonshine Yarrow attracts butterflies but doesn't interest rabbits. The bright flowers of this drought-tolerant perennial make great, long-lasting dried bouquets.

Moonshine Yarrow attracts butterflies but doesn’t interest rabbits. The bright flowers of this drought-tolerant perennial make great, long-lasting dried bouquets.

  • Plant Form: Semi-evergreen Perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring – Early Fall (May – Oct)
  • Native to: European parents
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to <0°F

 

Moonshine Yarrow combines some of the best hybrid characteristics of the genus, offering felty, blue-gray, fern-like, aromatic foliage with bright yellow flower heads. The flat-topped flower clusters attract butterflies, and make great bouquets of either fresh-cut or dried flowers. Bitter compounds in the foliage have been used historically for medicine, to reduce wound bleeding, and for flavoring alcoholic beverages, but they also prevent browsing by rabbits and deer. This award-winning garden plant is extremely drought-tolerant when established, and prefers well-drained, sunny sites. If plants get crowded, dig up and divide the plant in spring or fall. Deadhead flowers for prolonged flowering, and cut back to basal foliage in fall to keep the plant tidy. This easy-to-grow perennial works well in borders and beds, butterfly gardens, rock gardens, or massed in the garden.