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.

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.

Desert Four-O’Clock

Every afternoon, this Four-O'Clock opens a flush of delicate flowers to entice hawk moths, hummingbirds, and butterflies to sip its nectar, and bees to collect its pollen.

Every afternoon, this Four-O’Clock opens a flush of delicate flowers to entice hawk moths, hummingbirds, and butterflies to sip its nectar, and bees to collect its pollen.

Mirabilis laevis

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Perennial Sub-Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 2′ – 3’ tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (peak bloom), Summer, Fall (March – November)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, Nevada & Utah (below 7,000 feet)
  •  Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 25°F

 

 

Desert Four-O’Clock is a fast-growing, mounded, evergreen sub-shrub or herb. Dark green leaves and branches have soft, glandular hair, and the whole plant feels succulent, almost wet to the touch. The stems branch to form “wishbones”, giving it one of its names, Wishbone Bush. Its dainty white or pale pink flowers open in late afternoon and close early the next morning (unless the sky is overcast). Hummingbirds, hawk moths, butterflies, and other beneficial insects and pollinators sip the flower nectar, and birds feed on the seeds. Stimulate new growth by pruning hard every 2-3 years after flowering. Desert Four-O’Clock, with its mounding, spilling habit, can be used in a dry border, dry wash, on slopes, in a decorative pot, or in rock or xeriscape gardens.

Sugar Bush

Rhus ovata

A versatile evergreen shrub or tree whose "berries" have been used for traditionally and still today to make a wild lemonade.

A versatile evergreen shrub or tree whose “berries” have been used traditionally and today to make a wild lemonade.

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 8-15’ tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (March – May); fruit Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: California, Arizona, & Mexico (at elevations 3,000 – 5,000 feet)
  •  Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 0°F

 

 

Sugar Bush is a very long-lived, evergreen, aromatic shrub with lush, deep green, leathery leaves that are slightly folded like a taco shell. Maroon twigs and leaf stems, as well as reddish bracts that enclose the flower buds, strike a nice contrast with the deep green foliage. Pinkish flower clusters in late winter or spring produce red berry-like fruits (drupes) in summer that are coated with long strands of sugar, giving the bush its name. Traditionally, and even today, people harvest and soak these “berries” in water to make a refreshing drink like lemonade. This multi-branched sumac can be pruned into an attractive, single- or multiple-trunk shade tree. A workhorse of many southwest gardens, Sugar Bush is ideal for screens, hedges, windbreaks, for erosion control on slopes, or as a specimen on its own. Although slow-growing, it is worth the wait.

Cleveland Sage

Salvia clevelandii

A favorite southwest garden pick, both for its captivating fragrance and its stunning flower display.

A favorite southwest garden pick, both for its captivating fragrance and its stunning flower display.

 

  • Plant Form: Semi-evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 4’ tall x 4-5’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring – Summer (March – June)
  • Native to: Southern California south to Baja California (below 3,000 feet)
  •  Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 15°F

 

 

Cleveland Sage wins the prize for the best fragrance of all sages in most gardeners’ judgment. Its gray-green leaves have an intense but clean fragrance, and have culinary use. Deep violet-blue flowers appear in whorls skewered like balls of color on stems. The plant almost glows with color when in bloom, and attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. This fast-growing semi-evergreen shrub requires very well-drained soil, and takes minimal summer water. Cut back every other year, and remove spent flowers for a tidier look. Cleveland Sage can be used as a focal point in a dry border or decorative pot, as a low hedge, or in herb gardens.

White Sage provides striking silver foliage all year, with aromatic leaves and tall spikes of flowers in spring.

White Sage provides striking silver foliage all year, with aromatic leaves and tall spikes of flowers in spring.

White Sage

Salvia apiana

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 2-3’ tall x 3-6’ wide (flower stalks add another 2-6’ in height)
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (April – June)
  • Native to: California to Baja California (below 4,500 feet)
  •  Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 15°F

 

White sage is an aromatic, slow-growing, evergreen shrub prized for a variety of qualities. Gardeners treasure this drought-tolerant native for its beautiful white foliage, almost luminous in the early evening and on moonlight nights. Bees love this prolific bloomer, and make a flavorful honey from its white to lavender-tinged flowers. California Indians revere this shrub as sacred, burning its leaves as incense during purification and other sacred ceremonies. In spring, tall flower stalks grow rapidly. Trim back these stalks when they dry to tan in late summer to keep plants from becoming leggy, and to prevent wind damage. This shrub is virtually pest free. Its hollow stems break easily, so place it where hoses or passers-by won’t hit it. White sage makes a striking focal point in a border, and is valuable massed on slopes to deter erosion.