El Toro Muhly Grass
Muhlenbergia emersleyi ‘El Toro’

  • Plant Form: Ornamental Grass
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1-3 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (July – Aug), Fall (Sept – Nov
  • Native to: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -10°F
If you are looking for a dramatic grass, El Toro Muhly Grass fulfills that role with lots of other benefits, including being fast-growing, tolerant of drought, heat, and cold, while also being deer and rabbit resistant.

El Toro Muhly Grass offers up masses of airy, rosy-purple flower spikes in summer to mid-fall, which dry to a tan color in winter. Plant on the east or west side of your yard to collaborate with the morning or evening sun to help provide the dramatic backlighting that accentuates this plant’s seasonal color. This fast-growing, heat-tolerant, cold-tolerant, drought-tolerant ornamental grass is an easy-care, low-water-use plant that is also rabbit and deer-resistant (what more could you want?). El Toro Muhly can also tolerate full sun, reflected heat, and part shade, as well as almost any soils, including clay. Use this well-behaved, clumping native grass instead of the invasive Fountain Grass.  Prune vigorously in spring to remove spent flower spikes and dormant foliage, but avoid cutting back during the hot summer months. Use this southwestern native as an accent or border, in mass plantings for drama, or on slopes for erosion control or bank stabilization.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for November

Punica granatum

  • Plant Form: Deciduous Shrub, Tree
  • Water Use: Low, Moderate
  • Mature Size: 12-15 ft. tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring (April-May), Early Summer (June-July)
  • Native to: Himalayas, India, Iran
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F
Pomegranate serves as a durable “edible landscape” plant, producing juicy seeds that can be eaten right off the tree, or juiced, made into jelly or jam, or added to recipes. Pomegranate can be grown as a tree, shrub, or espalier, and tolerates alkaline soils that would kill most plants.

Pomegranate gives back so much and asks for so little in return. Even in very hot gardens with difficult soils, this fast-growing, deciduous shrub or tree produces beautiful fruits filled with juicy, sweet seeds to eat right from the plant or to make into juice, jellies, or wine. Its sharp-tipped, slender, upright branches will gracefully bend downward if left un-pruned. Showy flowers with ruffled red petals bloom at the branch tips, so severe shearing may result in fewer flowers and less fruit. Prune in late winter both for shape and to thin out interior twiggy growth. Pomegranate is drought-tolerant after established, but increased water during flowering and fruit development yields higher quality fruit. Overwatering as fruit matures increases its tendency to split open (which birds love). Use as a hedge, screen, attractive shrub or small tree, or as an accent. A dwarf variety (3 feet tall) is available which is great in pots and planters.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for October

Evergreen Sumac
Rhus virens

If you need a tall evergreen shrub or small tree that is incredibly tolerant of drought, wind, heat, sun, and cold, and is also resistant to insect pests, disease, and rabbits, look no farther. This sturdy plant is also tolerant of problem soils like clay and caliche soils.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub, Small Tree
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 8-12 ft. tall x 10-15 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Nov)
  • Native to: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 5°F 

Evergreen Sumac is a very adaptable, large, evergreen shrub that tolerates every stressful desert situation thrown at it: burning heat, freezing cold, extended drought, nutrient-poor soils, and even difficult clay and caliche soils. Given all these challenges, this sumac still grows into a beautiful, rounded specimen plant with lush, glossy, green leaves that can turn maroon after frost. Some leaves may drop after winter, but they are quickly replaced within a week with a new crop. Birds, butterflies, and bees all enjoy its late-summer, tiny white flowers and red fruits (fruit is only produced on female plants). The fuzzy, red fruits were historically soaked in water to make a refreshing lemonade-like drink high in vitamin C. This sturdy plant generally repels insect damage, disease, and rabbits. Left in its natural form, Evergreen Sumac makes a thick hedge, screen, barrier, or background plant, but it can be pruned to grow tree-like with a single, straight trunk.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for September

Golden Dogbane
Thymophylla pentachaeta

  • Plant Form: Perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 6-10 in. tall x 1-2 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May), Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Nov)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Northern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F 

Golden Dogbane is a dainty, colorful plant that brings happiness to both gardeners and butterflies. Because it provides both nectar and food for butterflies and their larvae, it is perfect for butterfly gardens. Gardeners can plant just a few of these short-lived perennials, and sit back as they multiply and migrate around the garden. While they reseed readily, they are easily controlled – but we bet you will want them to continue popping up in most places they sprout. Masses of tiny, golden-yellow, daisy-like flowers cover the foliage in spring and fall, flowering through summer in higher elevations, and even into winter where temperatures are mild. The finely textured foliage is strongly scented, yielding it rabbit-resistant. Lightly prune in early spring to rejuvenate or after freezing temperatures to remove any dead stems. This desert-friendly perennial works well in rock gardens and low planters, around pools and on patios, and mixed with groundcovers and wildflowers.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for August 


Plant of the Month – July

Peruvian Verbena dresses up rock gardens and low planters, spreading to form a mat, and also looks great cascading from pots.

Peruvian Verbena
Glandularia (Verbena) peruviana purple

  • Plant Form: Perennial groundcover
  • Water Use: Low, Moderate
  • Mature Size: 6-12 in. tall x 2-3 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March-May), Summer (June-Aug), Fall (Sept-Nov)
  • Native to: South America
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F 

Peruvian Verbena is a fairly fast-growing groundcover that trails and spreads with new herbaceous roots to form a dense mat. This desert-friendly, rabbit-resistant perennial produces clusters of colorful flowers at the end of each stem, with colors ranging from purple to pink, red, or white, depending upon which of the many available varieties are chosen.While this verbena is great in low-water-use landscapes, it produces its best flowering with moderate water. Flowers are most prolific in spring, with a slight tapering off in summer, but fall spurs another big bloom, which attracts butterflies and bees.Deadhead spent flowers to encourage continued blooming, and prune back in late winter to stimulate new flowering stems before spring. Although not a long-lived plant, Peruvian Verbena is popular in rock gardens and low planters, cascading from pots, and mixed with wildflowers and other groundcovers.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for July 


Plant of the Month – June

Artichoke Agave, Parry Agave
Agave parryi

  • Plant Form: Succulent
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June-Aug)
  • Native to: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F 

Artichoke Agave forms a dense, symmetrical rosette that actually resembles a giant artichoke. Wide, foot-long, blue-gray leaves are edged with spiny margins and tipped with a one-inch terminal spine. A rosette slowly matures over time until it produces offset “pups” at its base, eventually forming a colony of rosettes. Each rosette flowers only once, usually after 10-15 years, but sometimes not until 20-30 years. From the center of the rosette, one giant flowering stalk rises up to 20 feet tall, after which the flowering rosette dies, but all the new rosettes formed by suckers around the base of the mother plant survive. The flowering stalk is eye-catching, with clusters of orange-yellow flowers on many side branches.This popular ornamental agave is used as an accent or specimen, in borders, or in mass plantings. It is great in succulent and rock gardens, and in containers.

Check out our “Garden Tasks” for June