How Can You Tell a Lysiloma from an Acacia?

Feathery leaves, pale puffball flowers – is it a Lysiloma or is it an Acacia? Inquiring minds want to know! What is in a Name? Bear with me here as we start with some history and botanical exploration. If you get bored you can skip to the final paragraph – but I hope you won’t. Acacia are a group of trees in the Legume or Pea Family. “Acacia” was first described by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773 based on the African species he called Acacia nilotica. The name […]

Beautiful Brittlebush – for Your Southwestern Landscape

Brittlebush is not only beautiful to behold – it is beautiful for many aspects of a sustainable Sonoran desert habitat. Brittlebush provides food for foraging pollinators, a shady spot to start saguaro life, a sheltered spot for wildlife to rest, and a safe corner of the world to build a little lizard den under. Brilliant Brittlebush Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) is one of the most common and conspicuous wildflowers in the Sonoran Desert; seasonally providing a glowing golden-yellow cloak for the desert. And yes, the wood is brittle, hence the name. […]

How to Re-Bloom Poinsettia

Re-blooming any plant that has been forced for mass production is not easy. Re-blooming a poinsettia plant is no exception. It can be done, but it requires greenhouse-like conditions with hands-on care. Plus it is a tedious process and one slip – leaving the lights on just once – will blow months of work. Month – by – Month Poinsettia Re-bloom Guide January – March: Water your poinsettia whenever you find that the surface of the soil is dry to the touch. April: Begin gradually decreasing the amount of water […]

Poinsettia Care in the Southwest

In North America, nothing says Christmas quite like the poinsettia. Many people want to keep these lovely plants alive for as long as possible, and here are the tips and tricks to doing so. Genes Rule Plant Behavior Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are native to the cool plateaus of central Mexico. Their origin – and thus their genes – is key to their survival in our modern homes. Many people hear “Mexico” and think of the hot desert areas or maybe Cancun, but much of Mexico is not hot, nor topical! […]

Poinsettia – A Lovely Plant

National Poinsettia Day is December 12. America’s favorite holiday flower* has its own special day of recognition! This day was jointly designated by Congress and the floral industry to celebrate the beauty and rich history of the poinsettia. And an interesting history it is too.  Native to the New World Poinsettia is native to the area of Mexico near present day Taxco. These charming plants were popular long before Christmas and Christianity. The Nahuatl called it cuetlaxochitl (que-tlax-o-chi-tl), and used it as a symbol of purity. Poinsettia was brought off […]

Hummers of Summer

Summertime is hummer time! Flowers are blooming and hummingbirds are zipping around, collecting nectar and a few insects while they are at it. Last week I mentioned that they need more than just sugar-water feeders. (Gardening for the Birds – here) This week, let’s look at how to fill your landscape with happy healthy hummingbirds! What Hummingbirds Need Every living thing on earth needs food, water, and a place to live. Hummingbirds will need shelter along with their food. Plus they can often be seen basking in a fountain – […]