I can think of quite a few different plants that have the word “honeysuckle” listed as part of their common name.

I am very excited to share this particular plant with you because of one trait that is sometimes hard to find in many desert-adapted plants.

What is this trait?

Well, it thrives in filtered shade.  Now for many of you, this may not mean much.  But believe it or not, it can be hard to find plants that will do well in the shade in the desert.

I would like to introduce you to Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera).
Isn’t it beautiful?
I especially like how the bright orange flowers contrast so nicely with the light green foliage.
Mexican Honeysuckle is native to Mexico, and down through South America.
Besides being beautiful, they have quite a few wonderful characteristics that will make you sure to include some in your garden.
Long bloom period
Year-round in warmer climates
Low maintenance
Little pruning is needed and can be done in December
 Fertilize only if needed (can suffer from iron chlorosis), but I have not needed to fertilize them.
Attracts hummingbirds
Hardy to zone 8
Can thrive in filtered, but not heavy shade.
In the low desert, Mexican Honeysuckle does best when it receives filtered shade in the afternoon.  In other areas, you can plant it in full sun.
Drought tolerant, but does require supplemental water.
They are not fragrant, but beautiful, just the same.
I had quite a few Mexican Honeysuckle planted behind a country clubhouse in an area with bright shade.  We rarely had to prune or fertilize ours.
They do very well when planted underneath a tree that provides filtered, but not heavy shade.  Mesquite and Palo Verde trees look great with Mexican Honeysuckle planted underneath.
I also like how they look when paired with a dark green agave such as Agave lophantha and Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis).
I hope you decide to try this beautiful lesser-know Honeysuckle.
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On another note, I am almost ready to reveal my ‘special announcement’.
I will give you hint though…..
I have been busy writing quite a bit lately and not just for my personal blog.
No, I am not writing a book, but may someday 😉
I hope you all have a great week!     
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

5 replies
  1. Elephant's Eye
    Elephant's Eye says:

    If I only saw the flowers, it would be our Cape honeysuckle Tecomaria, but your Mexican version has leathery furry leaves. More heat resistant than ours, which often looks Thirsty, I said, thirsty!!

    Reply
  2. James Missier
    James Missier says:

    I seen this plant very often along streetsides planted as an ornament plant. Somehow they don't seemed to last long as they tend to get leggy and unattractive.
    Didn't know its a shade lover, probably I might get this plant in my garden.
    Thanks for the tip.

    Reply

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