Golden Barrel Cactus

Echinocactus grusonii 

Everything about this plant makes it a desert gardener’s delight: extreme drought-tolerance, very low maintenance, suitability for both formal and casual landscapes, attractive clumping habit, and glowing spines for added interest.

  • Plant Form: Cactus/succulent
  • Water Use: Very Low
  • Mature Size: 1.5 ft. tall & 2 ft. wide (3 ft. tall and wide in very old plants)
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Central Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 18°F


Golden Barrel Cactus is one of the most popular cacti in cultivation today—one look, and you’ll know why. Bright golden spines line the ribs of this spherical cactus, which lights up in the sun. Older specimens produce offsets around their base, eventually forming large clusters with dozens of individual heads. Yellow flowers form late spring to summer in a ring at the top of the plant on larger, mature plants only, peeking out of the dense patch of white woolly hair that protects the top of the barrel. Planted in mass, these whimsical plants create a dramatic effect, even giving the illusion of rolling hills in a flat landscape. Golden Barrels keep getting more beautiful as they grow, needing very little care or water, and usually only suffer if they get not enough sun or too much irrigation. Plant groups close together among large rocks for impact. Wonderful in containers on sunny porches and in atriums.


Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for April

Spanish Lavender

Lavandula stoechas

Spanish Lavender offers a trio of qualities that gardeners seek: beautiful blossoms, drought tolerance, and fragrant foliage. Add to that rabbit resistance and tolerant of heat, cold, and poor soils, and you have a real winner!

  • Plant Form: Evergreen perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 24 – 30 in. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Feb-May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region and North Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F


Spanish Lavender can fulfill your desire for a durable evergreen plant with bright flowers, enchanting fragrance, drought resistance, and heat tolerance. Both flowers and foliage are wonderfully fragrant. Purple bracts on flower heads appear like rabbit ears, and lend a whimsical look. Spanish Lavender is probably the same plant that the ancient Greeks and Romans used to scent their bath water, and is still popular today for dried aromatics and cut stems in homes. Prune lightly after flowering to stimulate next season’s growth. This water-wise, easy-care plant is perfect in both formal and casual Mediterranean-style gardens, as well as in cottage and wild gardens. It also performs superbly on dry slopes and rocky outcrops. Spanish Lavender attracts butterflies and pollinators, but luckily repels rabbits. Beautiful in large artistic pots, mixed borders, mass plantings, and rock gardens.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for March

Trailing Indigo Bush

Dalea greggii

Trailing Indigo Bush is one of the toughest groundcovers available, resisting drought, heat, and rabbits, while offering soil stabilization on slopes and a durable cover in rock gardens and medians.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen groundcover
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall & 3-9 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Feb-May), Summer (June – August)
  • Native to: New Mexico, Texas, Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F


Trailing Indigo Bush creates a mounding, low-maintenance, easily established groundcover for any arid location. Silvery blue-green foliage adorns this spreading plant that roots at the nodes of long, trailing stems, covering everything in its path and making it especially useful to stabilize slopes. Its tiny, purple, pea-like flowers are not showy from a distance, but butterflies, native pollinators, and humans appreciate their beauty close-up. This durable groundcover shuns fertilizer and overwatering, but some watering in summer helps keep the foliage full. In the late winter or early spring, cut off the stems of last season’s growth to stimulate new growth in spring. Besides being tolerant of drought and reflected sun, Trailing Indigo Bush is happily rabbit resistant. One of the toughest groundcovers available, it is valued on slopes, medians, in rock gardens, and wherever soil stabilization is needed.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for February

Queen Victoria Agave

Agave victoriae-reginae
Queen Victoria Agave_plant_RK

For a stunning accent almost anywhere in your yard, rock garden, on your porch, or in an atrium, it’s hard to beat the elegant form and color of Queen Victoria Agave.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen succulent
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 18 inches tall and wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – August) Blooms once after about 10-15 years in the garden
  • Native to: Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F


Queen Victoria Agave is among the most striking century plant species in cultivation, and looks so perfect, you’ll wonder if it’s real. Each thick leaf of the symmetrical rosette is edged with precise white lines wherever the leaves are angled. A single spine finishes the tip of each leaf. Queen Victoria Agave is prized not only for its mesmerizing leaf patterns, but also for its small size and ability to withstand desert heat, drought, and cold. This slow-growing agave may bloom once at considerable age, producing a single 15-foot stalk with reddish-purple flowers, after which the mother plant dies–but not before starting new “pups” from below the rosette. Looks best when watered deeply twice a month in summer and once a month in spring and fall. Like most agaves, this beauty looks great in containers, especially on either side of an entry to view up close. In the ground, it is stunning in rock, cactus, and succulent gardens.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for January

Red Hot Poker, Torch Lily,

‘Christmas Cheer’ Poker Plant

Kniphofia rooperi hybrid
      ‘Christmas Cheer’

‘Christmas Cheer’ Poker Plant blooms in the fall, winter and spring, making it a rather unique poker, and delighting hummingbirds with its nectar during winter in mild climates.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3 – 4 feet tall x  3 – 5 feet wide (flower spikes to 3 – 5 feet tall)
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Fall – Spring (Oct – Feb)
  • Native to: S. Africa
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15 °F

Red Hot Poker is known for brilliant hot scarlet “torches” of flower spikes with yellow bases. The variety ‘Christmas Cheer’ is named for its ability to bloom through cooler weather, blooming in fall, winter and spring, making this a unique ‘red hot poker’ (most others bloom during the summer). While the clumping plant is cold-hardy, the flowers succumb to freezing, so consider planting in containers to move under cover in freezing weather to maintain winter blooms. Summer-blooming varieties are available with no risk of winter bloom damage. Cut spent flower spikes out at their base to make plants more attractive and to promote longer flowering. Butterflies, hummingbirds, and other nectar sippers like orioles are attracted to the tubular flowers. Considered to be one of the best winter hummingbird nectar plants for mild climates. Plant in full sun with good drainage. Eye-catching in borders, rock gardens, containers, wildlife gardens, and fire-wise gardens.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for December

Hot Lips Sage

Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’

Flowers on Hot Lips Sage can be either all red, all white, or both red and white, a combination that stops passers-by in their tracks.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 2 – 3 feet tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun to Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring – Fall (Apr – Nov)
  • Native to: Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15 °F


Hot Lips Sage is an early-blooming bi-color sage that you cannot look at without smiling. This plant always stops passers-by for a second look, including hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees that are attracted to the blossoms from late spring until the first frost. Two-tone flowers on the same plant vary depending on temperature throughout the season. With warmer evening temperatures, summer flowers are either all white or all red. As evening temperatures fall in autumn, flowers come back to their two-color nature: a clear white upper hood, and a cherry red lower lip. This compact, carefree, drought-tolerant shrub works for any water-wise garden, and resists browsing by rabbits and deer. Tolerates drought, but looks better with periodic water. With afternoon shade, Hot Lips Sage may grow to 4 feet tall. Stunning in borders, containers, rock gardens, and in mass plantings. A wonderful addition to cut floral bouquets. You will love this plant!

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for November