Perennials for Pollinators

The third week of June is National Pollinator Week. As it happens, the entire month of June is “National Perennial Garden Month.” So combining the two national celebrations, allow me to introduce you to some on the many lovely low-water Southwest native perennials for Southwest pollinators. Pollinators in the Southwest When it comes to pollinators, the American Southwest is one of the most species diverse habitats in the world, with native species of bees, butterflies, moths, bats, and hummingbirds all busy pollinating our plants. The diversity makes sense when you […]

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, […]

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 […]

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 […]