Coral or Superb Penstemon

This truly superb penstemon will catch the eye of hummingbirds, spinx moths, bees, you and all your visitors.

This truly superb penstemon will catch the eye of hummingbirds, spinx moths, bees, you, and all your visitors.

Penstemon superbus

 

  • Plant Form: Perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 4-6’ tall with stalks; 1-2’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring – Summer (February – June)
  • Native to: Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

 

This guaranteed hummingbird magnet is absolutely stunning when tall spikes of vivid coral flowers rise 4 to 6 feet above a rosette of large, blue-green leaves. The eye-catching flowers also attract bees and sphinx moths (often mistaken for hummingbirds), and its seeds attract songbirds. Plant in fall for spring flowers. Remove spent flower stalks and give some supplemental summer water to extend flowering. To take advantage of its tendency to self-seed, wait to cut some flowering stems off at the base until after seeds are sewn. This herbaceous perennial lives for 3 to 5 years. Re-seed at least every two years to keep new seedlings starting as older plants die out. This delightful perennial, also known as Superb Penstemon, grows well in full sun or filtered shade in well-draining soil. Coral Penstemon looks great behind lower shrubs and perennials for a layered effect.

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Feathery & Desert Cassia

Masses of yellow flowers cover both Feathery and Desert Cassia when flowers are scarce in winter; both plants are extremely tough and drought-tolerant.


Senna artemisioides &

Senna artemisioides filifolia

(formerly Cassia nemophila)


  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 6’- 8’ tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Winter to Spring (December – May)
  • Native to: Australia
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

 

 

When flowers are scarce in the middle of winter, these two Cassias burst out with masses of fragrant yellow flowers, and steal the show in Southwest landscapes. Both Feathery and Desert Cassia (bush pictured here) survive on minimal water, but respond with more lush growth and more flowers with a little added water (too much water causes yellowing). Feathery Cassia’s silvery sheen adds interest in the breeze. Desert Cassia’s narrow, bright green foliage bestows its other name, Green Cassia. Pea-like flowers create lime-green seedpods which later darken to brown; pruning in late spring removes these pods for a tidier look (avoid pruning after July, or you’ll remove flower buds that start forming in August). These extremely tough plants can be used interchangeably as a great background plant, as contrast for darker green plants, massed in groups, or to complement succulents.

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Hollyleaf Cherry

Hollyleaf Cherry can be trained into an attractive tree, sculpted into a hedge, or left in its natural form for evergreen beauty. It's edible summer cherries are a magnet for songbirds.

Hollyleaf Cherry can be trained into an attractive tree, sculpted into a hedge, or left in its natural form for evergreen beauty. It’s edible summer cherries are a magnet for songbirds.


Prunus ilicifolia

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub to Small Tree
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 7-18’ tall x 10’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Peak bloom Spring (Mar – May)
  • Native to: Western California south to Baja California below 5,000 feet
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 0°F

 

Hollyleaf Cherry is a tightly-branched, long-lived, evergreen, shrub with lush, deep green, glossy leaves that have an almond-like scent when crushed. White flower clusters in spring produce dark red cherries in summer that are a favorite of songbirds. This easy-to-grow plant can be trained into an attractive tree, or sculpted into a variety of shapes and uses. Hollyleaf Cherry is ideal for screens, hedges, windbreaks, firebreaks, for erosion control on slopes, or as a specimen plant. While slow-growing the first few years, it reaches moderate to rapid growth after established. Although this cherry relative bears its flowers in spring and fruit in summer, we couldn’t resist featuring this beautiful shrub in winter, as its holly-like foliage is a favorite for Christmas wreaths and holiday decorations.

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Creosote may be among the least appreciated but valuable landscape plants in the Southwest. As perhaps the most drought-tolerant plant in North America, it will thrive in your yard with just occassional water, producing flowers most of the year.

Creosote may be among the least appreciated but most valuable landscape plants in the Southwest. As perhaps the most drought-tolerant plant in North America, it will thrive in your yard with just occassional water, producing flowers most of the year.

Creosote

Larrea tridentata

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 6’ tall & 8’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Peak bloom Spring & Winter (Nov – May); sporadic rest of year
  • Native to: California, Utah, Arizona, to W. Texas and Mexico below 3,500 feet
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 5°F

 

Creosote survives on its own in the hottest, driest deserts of the southwest US, but when invited into a landscaped setting, this open-branching plant will surprise you as it will become a more full, rounded shrub with dense foliage. Sometimes called greasewood, this very long-lived, aromatic shrub is what gives the desert its distinctive smell after a rain. Lemon yellow flowers or fuzzy white seeds may appear most of the year, although Creosote blooms most profusely in spring. Although it needs no water after its established, extra summer water will speed up growth, but overwatering or fertilizer will kill it. Creosote can be pruned into a multiple-trunk, tree-like form, or trimmed like a hedge to stimulate denser branching and more lush foliage. A great evergreen screen or border hedge, or as an accent for xeriscape and cactus gardens.

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California Fuchsia

This fall-blooming southwest native provides critical nectar for migrating hummingbirds, and brilliant color for  gardeners after most others flowers are done.

This fall-blooming southwest native provides critical nectar for migrating hummingbirds, and brilliant color for gardeners after most others flowers are finished for the season.

Epilobium canum/Zauschneria californica

 

  • Plant Form: Semi-evergreen Perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 2 feet tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Summer, Fall (June – October)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, and Baja California below 10,000 feet
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 10°F

 

 

California Fuchsia is an easy-to-grow, herbaceous, perennial sub-shrub with tubular orange-red flowers that are an important nectar source for hummingbirds during migration (the plant is dependent on hummingbirds for pollination). Also known as Hummingbird Trumpet, this is not a true fuchsia, despite its common name. This late-season bloomer tolerates drought, heat and wind once established, and has abundant blooms when many natives are dormant. Don’t prune during its first year or two. After that, pinch back young stems to produce a compact, well-branched plant, and cut back hard every winter after blooming is finished and before new growth appears to keep tidy, lush growth. Plant away from high traffic, as stems are brittle.Stunning when planted in masses among rocks or on slopes, in dry streambeds, or against rock walls, but equally beautiful in pots and baskets.

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Desert Marigold

This bright perennial flower is tougher than it looks; it blooms prolifically for many months, self-seeds, resists heat, requires little or no added water, and is surprisingly resistant to rabbits.

Baileya multiradiata

 

  • Plant Form: Perennial Flower
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 18”- 20” tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring – Summer, Fall (April – July, and again in Oct. if summer rain occurs or if watered)
  • Native to: All of Western US and Mexico at elevations below 6,000 feet
  •  Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 10°F

 

 

Desert Marigold is a cheery, fast-growing but short-lived perennial with bright yellow flowers from spring through fall. At lower elevations, this wildflower may bloom continuously, and can flower anytime in mild winters. Flowers are held on slender stems high above the white-wooly leaves on the lower half of the stems and in a basal rosette. This low, mounded plant can tolerate heat, cold, full or reflected sun, and drought–but not overwatering, which causes root rot. This plant brightens up borders, rock and cactus gardens, masonry walls, and any garden space with good drainage and no organic mulch. While it is short-lived, it does reseed easily (seeds are best gathered in fall and spread for planting). Desert Marigold requires no pampering other than removing old flower heads, but it loves a rock as a life partner.

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