Crape Myrtle
Lagerstroemia indica

  • Plant Form: Deciduous tree, shrub
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 2-22 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August), Fall (September – November)
  • Native to: China
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

This sturdy plant will surprise you with its year-round offerings: prolific blooms of red, pink, rose, white, or purple from summer to fall, fall color of leaves before they drop, and sculptural branches in winter.

Crape Myrtle’s claim to fame is its incredibly showy, ruffled flowers, but it has many other admirable qualities. This ornamental shrub or tree offers year-round interest: flowers from summer into fall, fall foliage color, sculptural branching in winter after leaves drop when allowed to grow naturally, and interesting exfoliating bark, revealing a velvety trunk. Many hybrids are available to satisfy a spectrum of needs and preferences for size, height, and blossom color, from knee-high dwarfs to towering shrub-tree forms. These deciduous plants are very low-maintenance if you select the correct variety to fit your space (to avoid constant pruning, which some call “crape murder”). Flower colors range from white to pink, rose, red, and purple. Crape Myrtles are resistant to both rabbits and deer, tolerate most soils, grow well in containers, make great flowers for cutting, are patio friendly, easy-care, water wise and fire wise. Landscape uses include privacy screens, hedges, specimen trees, mass plantings, borders, and containers.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for August


Plant of the Month – July

Chitalpa Chitalpa tashkentensis

  • Plant Form: Deciduous tree
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 15-25 ft. tall x 15-30 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May), Summer (June – August), Fall (September – November)
  • Native to: Hybrid from North American parents
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -20°F

This hybrid tree gets its drought-tolerance from its southwest parent, Desert Willow, and its cold tolerance from its southern parent, Southern Catalpa. The two species combine for this sterile but lush-leaved, large-flowered tree that produces less litter than either parent, and is adaptable to most soils and climates across the American southwest.

Chitalpa inherited some of the best qualities from each of its parents, producing an exciting, drought-resistant plant ideally suited for most soils and climates throughout the American southwest. This hybrid deciduous tree is a cross between Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) from our southwest desert washes, and Southern Catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides) from the southeast U.S., combining the drought tolerance of Desert Willow with the cold tolerance of Southern Catalpa. Chitalpa has larger flowers and more lush foliage than Desert Willow, but this sterile hybrid doesn’t produce long, narrow seedpods like its parents, creating less litter than either parent. Its bloom season is incredibly long, from spring through fall. Bright-green leaves showcase abundant trumpet-shaped, lavender-pink flowers in upright clusters of 15 – 40 flowers, which hummingbirds love. This multi-trunked tree may begin life with an irregular form, but quickly creates a dense, spreading crown. Use as a specimen tree, shade tree, accent, screen, patio plant (deep taproots won’t lift cement), or in dry washes and hummingbird gardens.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for July


Plant of the Month – June

Sunray Coreopsis
Coreopsis grandiflora ‘Sunray’

  • Plant Form: Perennial
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall x 2-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: North America
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -10°F

This cheery perennial gives back so much while needing so little maintenance. Coreopsis attracts butterflies during its long bloom season, and provides great cut flowers from spring through summer.


Sunray Coreopsis is an outstanding variety of North American native prairie plant that blooms all summer with large, golden-yellow flowers held on long stems above its dark green foliage. Tolerant of almost any soil as long as it is well drained, this mounding perennial thrives with heat and sun, and is drought-resistant. Although fairly short-lived, Coreopsis will self-seed to help perpetuate itself in the garden, and can also spread by rhizomes. This easy-to-grow plant attracts butterflies, makes great cut flowers, grows well in containers, and is rabbit- and deer-resistant. As with many perennials, Coreopsis benefits from being divided and replanted in the fall every few years. To encourage its best flowering, keep deadheading spent flowers. This compact, Great Plains native perennial works great in borders, containers, mass plantings, rock gardens, meadows, cottage gardens, and along paths.


Check out our “Garden Tasks” for June


Plant of the Month – May

Nepeta faassenii

  • Plant Form: Perennial
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall x 2-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Late spring (May), summer (June, July)
  • Native to: Asia, Europe, Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

It’s hard to believe that this delicate-looking plant is so sturdy. Catmint is tolerant of most southwest garden challenges, including cold, heat, drought, poor soil, rabbits, and deer, while offering long-blooming flowers, attracting butterflies and bees, and providing scented foliage for bouquets and dried potpourris.

Catmint is beloved by gardeners for a host of features: it is fast-growing, long-lived, low-maintenance, resistant to browsing animals and pests, attractive to butterflies and bees, water-wise, and is graced with periwinkle-blue flowers over a long bloom season. This cornerstone of many xeriscape gardens is also cold hardy, heat tolerant, drought-tolerant, easy to grow, and tolerant of most soil types. Its gray-green foliage is lacy and aromatic, deterring rabbits and deer, but charming humans; scented foliage is used in dried potpourri and in fresh arrangements. Cut flower stalks are great in bouquets. Deadhead spent flowers or shear back stems for denser plants with more lush second blooms. This compact perennial is lovely cascading over walls, walkways, and containers, and makes an attractive rock garden accent or small-scale groundcover. Perfect in borders, containers, mass plantings, rock gardens, along paths, and to hide the knobby “knees” of rose bushes.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for May

Red Tip Photinia
Fraser’s Photinia
Photinia x fraseri

  • Plant Form: Evergreen shrub
  • Water Use: Moderate
  • Mature Size: 5-15 ft. tall x 5-15 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (April)
  • Native to: Asia
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0-5°F

A beautiful transition of leaf colors tracks the growth of new foliage from red to bronze to deep green at maturity in the appropriately named Red Tip Photinia.

Red Tip Photinia is stunning in spring when its new growth flashes red at the tip of each stem. As the red foliage matures, it turns bronze, and then settles into a deep green. Additional pruning of branch tips encourages new red leaves from spring into summer. Continual trimming will sacrifice white flowers, which nearly cover the plant at peak bloom (some people dislike their odor). Avoid pruning in fall, since freezing winter temperatures damage new growth. While this ornamental evergreen shrub can be trained into a small specimen tree, it is usually used for hedges and privacy screens.  In dry climates, this shrub is hardy, carefree, drought-tolerant, and disease free, but it does appreciate afternoon shade in hot desert areas. Well-drained soil is vital to this attractive shrub. Smaller cultivars are available, growing only 2-3 feet tall and wide. Use as a hedge, background planting, espalier, or small single-stemmed tree. Cut branches are beautiful in arrangements.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for April


Plant of the Month – March

Lady Banks Rose
Rosa banksiae

  • Plant Form: Evergreen to semi-deciduous vine
  • Water Use: Low, moderate
  • Mature Size: 15-20 ft. tall x 10-20 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full sun, part sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May), Early Summer (June)
  • Native to: China
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

If you want to cover a bank, fence, arbor, patio, or even the ground with a vigorous climber, this is your plant! Lady Banks Rose is almost immune to disease, tolerates most soils, and is resistant to rabbits, deer, and aphids. This climbing rose is also thornless, and makes plenty of flowers for cutting.

Lady Banks Rose is a fast-growing, climbing vine that can easily cover a fence, trellis, arbor, or patio. Prized as a vigorous climber, this thornless vine explodes with clusters of slightly fragrant, yellow or white miniature flowers from spring to early summer. Even when not in bloom, the deep green leaves are attractive, retained all year in mild climates, while being semi-deciduous in colder climates. This rose provides plenty of flowers for cutting, is pet-friendly, and attracts butterflies. Flowers form on old wood, so don’t over-prune older branches. Requires support to grow vertically. Frequent pruning is needed during the growing season to keep it close to a wall or fence; otherwise only occasional pruning is needed. It is drought-tolerant, disease-resistant, rabbit- and deer-resistant, and tolerant of most soils when organic matter is added to the planting hole.  This old-fashioned rose makes an easy-care privacy screen, espalier, ground cover, or romantic cover for an arbor.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for March