Castor Plants Add Color to the Landscape

Castor for color, and because the critters don’t eat it! Castor is a large, colorful plant for warm season color in the Southwest. Indeed, it grows large enough for some shade too. What is Castor Castor (Ricinus communis) comes to us from eastern Africa and is now spread world-wide in tropical areas. Oil of the seeds was important in ancient Egypt, imported at great cost from the kingdom of Nubia. Any plant that could reap great profits was subject to “industrial sabotage” back in the day, which is how castor […]

Hibiscus For the Desert Heat

Hibiscus abound in the nurseries now, and no wonder. They are beautiful plants with glossy green leaves, very luxurious looking, reminiscent of tropical jungles. And the flowers are pretty too. Hibiscus Flowers Seriously folks, hibiscus flowers are awesome. The large size of the blooms, combined with their exotic appearance and downright durability as a plant has helped them find their way into our cultural world view. Who hasn’t see photos of Tahitian maidens, or the paintings of Paul Gauguin, replete with luscious looking blooms tucked behind the damsels ear? Well, […]

Cactus Flower Fun in Southwest Spring

Almost every cactus species is blooming in our Southwest spring and oh, what fantastic flowers cacti produce! Every color of the rainbow can be found, often in bold and vivid hues. Cactus Flowers are Colorful This is a wonderful time of year if you are a flower lover. Cactus flowers come in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. These are joined by scarlet, pink, rose, crimson, claret, burgundy, magenta, purple, lavender, cream and white. In some species, individual blossoms are rainbows in themselves! Prickly pear flowers are generally yellow, […]

Growing Gardenias and Camelias in the Desert

Many garden centers have camellias and gardenias prominently displayed at this time of year. Occasionally an azalea too. These are in flower and their beauty and fragrance is very tempting. Before you succumb to temptation, realize that these not native to our arid Southwest climate and will need some special care. The Issue is Our Soil & Water & Climate Camellias, gardenias, and azaleas need acid soils. Our Southwest soils are alkaline. Our water comes out of the tap alkaline. Furthermore, all soils have an amazing capacity to buffer themselves, […]

Annuals for the Heat

Why annuals?  Most people like some flowers in their landscape. Gardeners and landscape folks call this “color.” Lucky for us, “color” in most of the Southwest is a year ’round thing – with a little planning. Plan for Color The trees, shrubs, and perennial plants that grow in our area have various bloom times, early spring, late spring, summer, monsoon season, fall, even winter. Thus, you could have one or more plants in FGB (full glorious bloom) in any give week. All this color is great, but sometimes one part […]

15 Sunflowers for the Land of Sun

Sunflowers are a native plant, used for centuries by the Native peoples. If you plant the right varieties – and plant them in the spring – you will have a gorgeous garden full of bright, sunny, sunflowers – anywhere in the Southwest! Sunflower Origins Originally sunflowers grew only in North and Central America (the “New World”). After Europeans “discovered” sunflowers, they were rapidly shared around the globe. There are over 70 species of sunflower, and countless varieties. Best known is the annual garden sunflower (Helianthus annus). As it happens, the […]