Do you use white flowering plants in your landscape?

I do.

However, some people tend to overlook white flowers in favor of flashier colors such as yellow, orange or red.  But did you know that white flowers can help show off the other colors in your landscape by providing color contrast?

In addition, white flowering plants also have a visually cooling effect in the garden, which is a welcome sight in the Southwest where summers are hot.

I’d like to share with you some of my favorite white flowers, all of which do well in the Southwestern landscape.

Bush Morning Glory (Convolvulus cneorum)

Pretty white flowers with yellow centers are just one of the reasons people love bush morning glory.  It’s silvery foliage is another great color that it adds to the landscape.

In the desert, the flowers appear for several weeks in spring before fading away.  However, the silvery foliage is evergreen and will add great color contrast when planted nearby plants with dark green foliage.

Do you have an area that gets full afternoon sun and reflected heat?  Bush morning glory can easily handle it while looking great.

Hardy to zone 8, bush morning glory grows approximately 2 ft. tall and 4 ft. wide.  Prune back in spring, after flowering has finished by 1/2 its size.

For more information on bush morning glory including other plants to pair it with, click here for my latest Houzz article.

White Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)

This white flowering perennial has a prominent place in my landscape.  White gaura has small flowers, shaped like small butterflies, that start out pink and turn white as they bloom.

It flowers in spring and fall and needs little maintenance.  I shear it back twice a year to 1/2 its size and it grows right back.

White gaura is related to the pink variety ‘Siskyou Pink’, but has a bushier appearance and grows larger – approximately 2 1/2 ft. wide and tall.  This native perennial is hardy to zone 6 gardens.

‘White Cloud’ Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘White Cloud’) 

While most of us are more familiar with the purple flowering Texas sage shrubs, there is a white variety which is well worth adding to your landscape.  

It can grow large, 6+ feet tall and wide, if given enough space and thrives in full sun.  In summer and fall, periodic flushes of white flowers cover this evergreen shrub.  

Avoid the temptation to excessively prune this shrub, which decreases the flowering and is not healthy for this type of shrub.  Hardy to zone 7, this shrub looks great when used as an informal hedge or against a wall.

For guidelines on how to (or how NOT to) prune flowering shrubs, click here.

Texas Olive (Cordia boissieri)
This a huge favorite of mine – Texas olive is a large shrub or small tree, depending on how you prune it.  It has dark green, leathery leaves and beautiful white flowers, which appear spring through fall on evergreen foliage.

Whenever I see this shrub, I always take a moment to admire its beauty, since it isn’t used often in the landscape – but it should be!

Small fruit, resembling an olive are produced, which are edible.  Texas olive thrives in full sun and areas with reflected heat.  Allow plenty of room for it to grow – it gets 25 ft. tall and wide.  Hardy to zone 9, the only drawback of this white flowering beauty is that it can be a little messy, so keep away from swimming pools.

All of these white flowering plants are drought tolerant and do well in hot, arid climates.  

Do you grow any of these in your garden?  Which is your favorite?

**As beautiful as these plants are, I have more to show you next time!
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."

3 replies
  1. dryheatblog
    dryheatblog says:

    I enjoy the whites of guara, bush morning glories, and Aloysia wrightii…had one that survived a wall built, so kept it. You're right, whites are underappreciated and cooling.


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