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.

 

Profuse balls of white to pink flowers fill the spaces in your garden as baby's breath does in a bouquet.

Profuse balls of white to pink flowers fill the spaces in your garden as baby’s breath does in a bouquet.

California Buckwheat

Eriogonum fasciculatum

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 2’ tall x 4-5’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring, Summer, Fall (April – November)
  • Native to: Southern California (below 7,000 feet), Arizona, Nevada, Utah
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 15°F

 

 

California Buckwheat is an extremely drought-tolerant, evergreen shrub forming a rounded clump with many stems. White to pink flowers grow in dense clusters on thin stalks above small, dark green leaves. The round, headlike flower clusters become pink with age, and dry to a reddish-brown, often persisting until the next flowering season. A fast-growing plant that needs full sun and well-drained soil. This valuable landscape plant is great for erosion control on slopes, to replant disturbed sites, soften rock gardens, and complement more vertical plants like sages, ephedras, penstemons, and desert marigolds. California Buckwheat fills in garden spaces like baby’s breath fills in a bouquet. A favorite source of nectar for butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects; bees collect the pink pollen to make delicious buckwheat honey.

 

Bush Monkeyflower

Mimulus aurantiacus (Diplacus longiflorus)

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Perennial Sub-Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 2-3’ tall x 3’ wide

    Bush Monkeyflower is beautiful in all of its various flower colors, including yellow, orange, coral, and red.

    Bush Monkeyflower is beautiful in all of its various flower colors, including yellow, orange, coral, and red.

  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring, Summer (Mar – August)
  • Native to: Southern California below 5,000 feet
  • Hardiness: Cold Hardy to 15°F

 

Bush Monkeyflower is a fast-growing, evergreen, woody sub-shrub prized for its variety of showy flowers. Light green leaves, which become sticky on hot days, contrast nicely with trumpet-shaped yellow, orange, or red flowers (sometimes classified as separate varieties according to color). Many hybrids are bred for new flower colors, but they are generally shorter-lived and not as cold-, drought-, or heat-tolerant as the original species. Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds visit the profuse flowers.  Stimulate dense growth by pinching the plant back in summer, and cut it back by one third in winter, after the plant is well-established. Bush Monkeyflower is beautiful in mixed borders, dry washes, on slopes, as an accent in rock gardens, and especially in decorative pots. In the wild, they are often found in rock outcrops, so rock companions will keep them feeling at home.

 

 

For nearly year-round flower color, consider planting Desert Mallow in borders, massed for brilliant color, or as a specimen plant.

For nearly year-round flower color, consider planting Desert Mallow in borders, massed for brilliant color, or as a specimen plant.

Desert Mallow

Sphaeralcea ambigua

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Perennial/Subshrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 3’ tall x 3-4’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring, Summer, Fall (February – November)
  • Native to: Deserts of southwest U.S. from California to Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, and into Mexico (below 7,500 feet)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -10°F

 

Desert Mallow is an easy-to-grow perennial with a relaxed form, even sprawling under the weight of stalks and flowers when in late bloom. This miniature version of a hollyhock comes in many flower colors, but orange is most common, and all make great cut flowers in bouquets. Desert Mallow typically blooms from spring into fall (February to November), but it may bloom year-round in warm areas if given summer water. This evergreen sub-shrub is native to our southwest deserts from California to Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and south into Mexico at elevations below 7500 feet. Its mature size is 3 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide. Desert Mallow loves full sun, requires very little water, and is cold hardy to -10°F. Small, gray-green leaves have star-shaped hairs that may irritate skin. The abundant flowers produced most of the year provide a steady source of pollen and nectar to honey bees and other insects. Protect from rabbits with a wire cage during establishment. Cut back severely after spring flowering for denser form and repeated bloom. This drought-tolerant and long-blooming native takes reflected heat, and is useful in dry borders, as a specimen plant, lining a wall or fence-line, or massed for brilliant color.

Brittlebush

Encelia farinosa

Brittlebush explodes with color from winter through spring, and after rain, attracting butterflies with its nectar, and later, songbirds with its seeds. Gardeners love iBrittlebush's silvery leaves the rest of the year.

Brittlebush explodes with color from winter through spring, and after rain, attracting butterflies with its nectar, and later, songbirds with its seeds. Gardeners love Brittlebush’s silvery leaves the rest of the year.

 

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 3’ tall x 4’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Winter to Spring (November – May) and after rain
  • Native to: High & Low Deserts of California (below 3,000 feet), Arizona, Utah, Baja, and Mexico
  • Hardiness: Limbs cold hardy to 25°F; Roots hardy to 15°F

 

Brittlebush is a fast-growing, aromatic, rounded shrub with bright yellow flowers that contrast beautifully with its large, gray leaves. Its silvery foliage is a landscape plus, lovely against cacti or darker green plants. Although Brittlebush is evergreen, it is drought-deciduous, dropping its leaves to save water when the soil is extremely dry for an extended period. Infrequent watering during dry seasons will convince Brittlebush to retain its leaves all summer, but excess watering produces large, short-lived plants. This native sunflower makes a great border or filler, takes reflected heat in stride, and is an excellent choice to prevent soil erosion on slopes. Butterflies sip its flower nectar, and songbirds eat its plentiful seeds. The amber-like sap that drips from damaged branches was collected historically to burn as incense, hence its other name, “Incienso”.