Protecting Your Desert Garden From a Heatwave

Protecting Your Desert Garden From a Heatwave

Summers in the desert garden is hot. That’s no surprise. However, there are periods within these hot months when temperatures climb higher than normal. Because of this, we do need to help protect our gardens from the effects of a heatwave.

So, what is considered a heatwave in the low to mid-altitude desert? As a rule, when the mercury edges above 110 degrees F. During a heatwave, they can even go close to 120 degrees – ouch!

Thankfully, there are things you can do to help prepare the plants within your garden right now.

Here is my #1 tip…

Water your plants deeply the night before three – four day span of 110+ degree are forecast. This is in addition to your regular drip irrigation schedule.

The goal of this supplemental irrigation is to water deeply. This allow the soil to stay moister for longer, which will benefit your plants.

Under normal circumstances, I water my plants for 1 1/2 hours. However, in preparation of a heatwave, I water 2-3 hours. Plants will need more water in order to deal with the extreme temps and the extra water that will be lost to the atmosphere through their leaves.

Don’t do this every night, only every 4 days or so during a heatwave.

My second piece of advice…

Provide temporary shade for young plants in your landscape as they are more susceptible to stress from a heatwave.

This is because they don’t have a well-established root system to uptake much water and sparser foliage, so there aren’t many leaves to shade other parts of the plant.

Shade cloth is useful for protection lasting over several months. But for short-term shade during a heatwave, you can use burlap, sheets, an umbrella, or even place a patio chair over a susceptible plant. Uncover plants once temperatures are within the normal range.

Hot temperatures are a fact of life during the desert summer as are heatwaves. But, implementing one, or both, of these tips will help the plants in your garden.

For more tips for heat-proofing your garden, check out Heatproof Garden: 5 Amazing Tips.

Many of us are familiar with how over-pruning can take away much of the beauty of flowering shrubs and contribute to their early death.

But, have you ever wondered what they look like on the inside?

I found this ‘ugly’ example alongside the drive-thru of Taco Bell.

Over Pruned Shrubs

Over Pruned Shrubs

It isn’t pretty, is it?

The side of the ‘Green Cloud’ Texas Sage was sheared away because it was growing over the curb.

The result of planting the shrub too close, OR the wrong plant in the bad space.

You can see the thin layer of leaves that cover the shrub and the dark, interior where sunlight seldom reaches.

This isn’t healthy for your shrubs, shortens their lifespan, and increases the amount of water they require.

If this resembles your shrub(s), the good news is that you can often fix them.

Over Pruned Shrubs

Imagine going from the shrub on the left to the one on the right.

It is possible and often a specific type of pruning known as ‘rejuvenation pruning’ is the way to do this.

In my online shrub pruning workshop, I love teaching my students how to rejuvenate their over-pruned shrubs.

It’s important to note that not all shrubs respond to rejuvenation pruning, but Cassia (Senna species), Sage (Leucophyllum species), Ruellia, Fairy Duster (Calliandra species), and Lantana shrubs respond well as long as they aren’t too old and healthy.

I encourage you to declare your landscape free of shrubs pruned into balls, cupcakes, and squares and transform it into one filled with beauty ๐Ÿ™‚

The Pitfalls of Improper Pruning: A Tale of Flowering Shrubs

Flowering Shrubs need pruning, but how they are pruned makes such a difference. Aren’t these shrubs beautiful?

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

flowering shrubs need pruning

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

Thunder Cloud Sage (Leucophyllum candidum ‘Thunder Cloud’)

flowering shrubs need pruning

Thunder Cloud Sage (Leucophyllum candidum ‘Thunder Cloud’)

Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’)

flowering shrubs need pruning

‘Rio Bravo’ Sage (Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Rio Bravo’)

You would think that the beauty of these shrubs, in flower, would be enough for people to stop pruning them into absurd shapes, but sadly, this is not the case. In the Desert Southwest, there is an epidemic of truly horrible pruning that affects not only Texas Sage (Leucophyllum species), but also Cassia (Senna species), Fairy Duster (Calliandra species), and even Oleander.

The Consequences of Excessive Pruning

Unsurprisingly, excessive pruning like this is NOT healthy for shrubs and it strips them of their beauty.

The ‘Frisbee’ Phenomenon

You don’t have to go far to see these sad shrubs. All you need to do is drive down the street as I did…

flowering shrubs need pruning

Okay, it should be rather obvious, but I will say it just the same,  “Do not prune your shrubs into the shape of a ‘frisbee’.

The ‘Pillbox’ Pruning

I kept driving and found even more examples of truly awful pruning.  Sadly, all are within a 5-minute drive of my house.

pillbox

I call this ‘pillbox’ pruning. These Texas Sage & Cassia shrubs were located across the street from the ‘frisbee’ shrubs.

Leucophyllum frutescens 'Green Cloud

An attempt at creating a ‘sculpture’? Texas Sage ‘Green Cloud’ (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘Green Cloud’)

flowering shrubs need pruning

 A second attempt at creating a sculpture?

Let’s get real. Shrubs pruned this way does nothing to add beauty to the landscape. And, when pruned this way, they cost more, take more time, and use more water – it’s true!

‘Cupcake’ Pruning: An Unappetizing Approach

Now on to some of my favorite ‘cupcake’ examples:

Leucophyllum frutescens 'White Cloud

An entire line of ‘cupcakes’. ‘White Cloud’ Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘White Cloud’) 

flowering shrubs need pruning

Do you think they use a ‘level’ to make the tops perfectly flat? I honestly wouldn’t put it past them.

flowering shrubs need pruning

You can see the dead area on the top, which is caused from this shrub being sheared repeatedly.

flowering shrubs need pruning

This dead growth is caused by lack of sunlight.  Repeated shearing (hedge-trimming) keeps sunlight from reaching the interior of the shrub.   As a result, branches begin to die.

After driving around for a while, I drove toward home when I saw the saddest ones of all…

Flowering Shrubs Need Pruning, but these are Disappointing

flowering shrubs need pruning

 Now if you look closely, you can see a light layer of gray-green leaves, which really don’t begin to cover the ugly, dense branching that has been caused by years of repeated shearing.

Texas Sage

 I actually like topiary, but not when done to a Texas Sage. Some people prune up their shrubs so that they can clean up the leaves underneath more easily.

The Goal Should be to Prune with Purpose

Now, I am not against formal pruning, when performed on the right plants. But, it is not attractive when done on flowering, desert plants and it is also unhealthy for the shrubs themselves and contributes to their early death in many cases.  Add to that the fact that it greatly increases your maintenance costs due to repeated pruning and having to replace them more frequently.

Now if you have shrubs that look like any of these pruning disasters, don’t panic! They can be fixed in most cases.

flowering shrubs

 Now, why would anyone want to remove the flower buds from your shrubs by shearing,  when you can have flowers like this?

Join the ‘Cupcake-Free’ Movement

If you are tired of unnaturally shaped shrubs in your landscape, I understand. Believe it or not, most flowering shrubs need pruning once or twice a year at most – and NOT the type of pruning into weird shapes. I find it ironic that your yard will look better when you do less.

flowering shrubs

So, if you are wanting to declare your landscape a ‘cupcake-free’ zone, I have something I think you’re gonna love. I invite you to check out my popular online shrub pruning workshop where I teach you how to maintain flowering shrubs by pruning twice a year or less. Hundreds of students have taken the course and are reaping the rewards of a beautiful outdoor space filled with colorful shrubs at a fraction of the work.

Are you ready to break out of the cycle of green blobs?

household cleaners

Household Cleaners

Do you like the idea of using household cleaners that are natural? I do. Especially after I noticed a build-up of ‘blue’ cleaning product in the small crevices of my bathroom counters.

So, I decided to focus on using natural cleaners using something straight from my garden – citrus!

Did you know that citrus (all kinds) have natural cleaning properties? It does. Citrus cleaner smells great, cleans well and I feel great using something that I grew.

Introduction to Household Cleaners

Creating your own all-natural household cleaner using leftover citrus peels and vinegar is not only environmentally friendly but also highly effective. Citrus fruits like grapefruit, lemon, and oranges possess natural disinfecting properties, making them excellent ingredients for homemade cleaners. This DIY citrus cleaner is a fantastic way to put your citrus peels to good use while avoiding the harsh chemicals found in many commercial cleaners.

household cleaners from oranges and other citrus

Harnessing the Power of Citrus

Many commercial cleaners incorporate lemon or orange for a reason โ€“ citrus fruits naturally disinfect and can help remove stains and mineral deposits. By making your own citrus cleaner, you’re taking advantage of these natural cleaning properties while reducing waste.

Crafting Your Homemade Citrus Cleaner

Gathering Ingredients and Supplies

To get started, you’ll need a few simple ingredients and supplies:

  • Citrus fruit (grapefruit, lemons, or oranges work well)
  • A large jar with a lid
  • Regular distilled vinegar
  • Strainer
  • Spray bottle

Step-by-Step Instructions

Here’s how to create your homemade citrus cleaner:

  1. Begin by peeling your chosen citrus fruit or simply cut off the peels.
  2. Place the citrus peels into your jar, ensuring the jar is completely filled.
  3. Add vinegar to cover all the peels.
  4. Store the container in a dark, cool place, such as your pantry or cupboard, for approximately 2 to 3 weeks.
  5. After steeping, strain the citrus peel and vinegar mixture through a strainer to remove any pulp or debris.
  6. Fill half of a spray bottle with the citrus and vinegar mixture, then top it off with water โ€“ that’s it!
Lemons

Versatile and Cost-Effective Cleaning

Your homemade citrus cleaner is now ready for use as an all-purpose cleaner on various surfaces, including floors, stovetops, appliances, and glass. It’s effective and budget-friendly. However, please avoid using it on marble or granite countertops, as the vinegar could potentially damage them.

Tip: Stock Up on Citrus Peels

If you don’t have enough citrus peels initially, consider freezing them until you accumulate a sufficient quantity to fill a jar.

*Optional: For a customized fragrance, add herbs like rosemary or mint, or incorporate essential oils to enhance the scent of your homemade citrus cleaner.

Crafting a Disinfecting Citrus Cleaner

For those seeking a quicker disinfecting solution, follow these steps:

  1. Take the peels from one citrus fruit of your choice and add them to 4 cups of water.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil, then remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  3. Remove the peels.
  4. Add 6 tablespoons of distilled vinegar and 3 teaspoons of borax to the cooled citrus water.
  5. Transfer the solution to a spray bottle and use it immediately on non-porous surfaces.

Embrace DIY for a Greener Home

Crafting your homemade citrus cleaner not only creates an eco-friendly product but also reduces waste, utilizing items like citrus peels that might otherwise end up in the trash. Discover the benefits of natural cleaning with this simple and effective DIY project for your home.

So, if you have a tree filled with citrus, or even if you have to buy some at the grocery store – this cleaner is well worth it!

Shrubs Arenโ€™t Meant To Be Cupcakes, Frisbees, or Pill Boxes

large bougainvillea in front of a southwest home

Do you love the beauty of bougainvillea? Many of us will agree that bougainvillea is beautiful, but many homeowners hesitate to grow them for a variety of reasons. The most common that I hear is that they get too big and as a result, too messy.

Embracing Bougainvillea: Maximizing Beauty while Minimizing Hassle in Containers

While both statements are certainly true, wouldn’t it be nice to enjoy the captivating and vibrant beauty of bougainvillea in a more controlled manner? One can find great satisfaction in discovering how to strategically grow bougainvillea, harnessing its enchanting colors and delicate blooms while mitigating the challenges associated with its exuberant growth and occasional unruliness.

Grow Bougainvillea in Pot or container

Thriving in Harsh Desert Summers: Consider Growing Bougainvillea

Let’s face it; summers in the desert can be brutal and bougainvillea are one of the lush green, flowering shrubs that thrive in intense heat and sun. So, why not consider adding one in a high-profile area where you can enjoy their beauty throughout the warm season?

Link to desert southwest Fuss-Free Plant Guide
Grab my FREE guide for Fuss-Free Plants that thrive in a hot, dry climate!

The Advantage of Potted Bougainvillea: Small Size, Less Mess

Growing bougainvillea in pots limits their overall size, and with smaller shrubs, there is less mess. It also makes it easier to protect them from frost damage in winter by moving the container to a sheltered location, such as underneath a patio or covering them with a sheet.

pale pink bougainvillea in container

Mastering Bougainvillea Growth: Container Planting Insights

Bougainvillea make excellent container plants. In fact, many gardeners who live in cold climates, only grow them in pots and move them indoors in winter. I met a gardener in Austin, Texas who treats bougainvillea like an annual plant, planting a new one every year to replace the old one lost to winter cold. Thankfully, we don’t need to do add a new one every year.

Bold pink flowery plant in container

Simple Steps to Cultivating Bougainvillea in Pots

Growing bougainvillea in pots is easy to do. Select a location in full sun where it will promote the most bloom. Bougainvillea are one of the few flowering plants that can handle west-facing exposures. 

pale pink and white bougainvillea flowers in blue pot

Nurturing and Feeding Your Potted Bougainvillea for Optimal Growth

Provide support for them to grow upward if desired. You can also grow bougainvillea as more of a compact shrub form if you wish.

Water deeply and allow the top 2 inches to dry out before watering again. Bougainvillea does best when the soil is allowed to dry out between watering.

bougainvillea in containers along a hot wall

Apply a slow-release fertilizer in spring, after the danger of frost is passed. You’ll want to reapply fertilizer every three months until September.

Winter Care and Final Thoughts: Flourish with Potted Bougainvillea

Growing bougainvillea in pots keepsย them small enough to make it feasible to cover them when freezing temperatures occur. So, if you like container gardening, consider growing bougainvillea in a pot for great success.

Creative Container Gardening Tips

Desert Garden heat with little fuss.

Let’s face it. Hot summers are not surprising to desert dwellers. In fact, a typical desert garden with native and desert-adapted plants will weather intense heat with little fuss.

However, this summer has been one for the books and I’ve seen signs of heat-stress that I’ve never seen before. And yes, within my own garden.

Desert Garden heat-stressed Rock Penstemon and Golden Barrel Cactus

Heat-stressed Rock Penstemon and Golden Barrel Cactus

I must admit that it’s been hard to see certain plants struggling in my desert garden and I know you may have similar feelings. So, why has this summer been so much more difficult than others?

Pink Trumpet Vine partially defoliated due to the heat in desert garden

Pink Trumpet Vine partially defoliated due to the heat

While it is normal to have several days above 110 degrees F., the summer of 2020 is one for the record books. We have experienced not just a couple of stretches of above-normal temps but, several long spans of infernal heat. Damage to plants is often cumulative. This means that the more days of above-average (or below-average) temperatures – the higher incidence of reaction from plants.

Take a walk outside in your garden. You will likely notice some plants that are yellowing, wilting, or have given up and died. However, you may also note that there are some that are doing well.

Why is that? Let me show you some examples from my own garden – the good AND the ugly.

Let’s start with the ugly:

New Mexican Fence Post cactus transplants desert garden

New Mexican Fence Post cactus transplants

In March, much of my backyard was renovated. This included the addition of two separate plantings of Mexican Fence Post cacti. They are located along my back wall and as you can see, one is doing very well while the other makes me cringe when I see the yellowing.

Does the yellowing cactus need more or less water? No. Many succulents yellow in response to summer heat. Of course, this very hot summer has made it more severe. So, why the difference between the two?

The one on the left gets filtered shade in the afternoon from a nearby Palo Verde tree. You can tell that the one on the right doesn’t get any shade but full afternoon sun. In a normal summer, it would be normal to see some yellowing that will return to green once temperatures cool. I am hopeful that will happen. As plants age, they tend to handle heat stress better and as these are young, the stress was especially severe.

Signs of heat stress desert garden

Signs of heat stress

In another area of my garden, I have Green Desert Spoon and Hardy Spineless Prickly Pear, which are very heat-adapted. Yet, they do show signs of mild heat-stress that I haven’t seen before. But, they will green back up in fall. Other plants that are struggling include Artichoke Agave, Gopher Plant, and Shrubby Germander.

I am thrilled that my young Desert Willow tree in this photo is thriving despite the heat. I have four others scattered throughout my landscape and all are doing just as well.

Here are some of the good:

Young Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis) doing very well in desert garden

Young Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis) doing very well. The neighbor’s Dwarf Myrtle isn’t.

'Sparky' Tecoma shrub (Tecoma 'Sparky') in desert garden

‘Sparky’ Tecoma shrub (Tecoma ‘Sparky’)

Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris). Will soon burst forth in burgundy plumes in fall

Pink Muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris). Will soon burst forth in burgundy plumes in fall.

Gold Lantana in full sun all day in desert garden

Gold Lantana in full sun all day

Feathery Cassia, Purple Trailing Lantana, and Yellow Bell shrubs are also doing well.

Here are a couple of exceptional performers that get full, reflected sun:

'Rio Bravo' Texas Sage in desert garden

‘Rio Bravo’ Texas Sage

Bougainvillea in desert garden

Bougainvillea

There are still six weeks of summer heat ahead of us. So, what should we do for now?

  1. Be sure plants are receiving enough water. You may need to increase the frequency when temps are above 110 degrees.
  2. Don’t fertilize. Feeding plants simply makes them work harder to produce new growth when all they are trying to do is deal with the heat.
  3. Don’t prune away heat-damaged growth until September. While brown leaves are ugly, they are protecting the interior of the plant. Some pruning is recommended in mid-September, which I teach in my Shrub Pruning Workshop.
garden in the desert with small tree and plants

We don’t know if this summer will be an anomaly or the beginning of a new normal. But, instead of throwing in the towel, I invite you to do the following instead:

Take a stroll through your garden and take note of which plants are doing well and those that aren’t. If this is to be the new norm, it would be a good idea to add more of those that handle the heat well.

desert garden

I am not going to make any major changes in my own garden. Most of my plants have done just fine in past summers. I’ll replace the few plants that died but am hopeful that next summer will be one with average temperatures. If not, then I know what plants have withstood the heat best.

Before we know it, fall will be here, and I for one, can’t wait!

Gorgeous Germander for Desert Gardens

sunburnt roses with dog

Photo: Roses Feeling The Heat , My Abraham Darby shrub rose and my little dog, Tobey.

Challenges of Hot Arid Climates for Roses

If you live in a hot arid climate, chances are that your roses are feeling the heat and aren’t looking their best right now. While gardeners in cooler climates celebrate summer with beautiful rose blooms, the opposite is true for those of us who live in the desert.

Surprisingly, roses actually grow quite well in hot, southwestern zones, and even though mine look somewhat sunburned – I’m not worried because this is normal. Understanding proper irrigation makes a big difference, but roses feeling heat will still have concerns.  

Effects of Roses Feeling Heat with Intense Sun and Warmth

You see, roses that are grown in the low desert regions, don’t like the intense sun and heat that summer brings. As a result, the flowers become smaller, and the petals burn in the sun and turn crispy.  By July, you are unlikely to see any new roses appearing until Fall.

roses with leaf burn

Impact on Rose Plant Leaves

The rose blooms aren’t the only parts of the roses feeling heat concerns in summer – the leaves can become sunburn.  

The sight of brown crispy petals and leaves may make you want to prune them away, but don’t.    

Why?

Avoiding Premature Pruning

Pruning will stimulate new growth that will be even more susceptible to sunburn damage.  Second, the older branches and leaves will help to shade the growth underneath the sun.  

Strategic Pruning Schedule will Help Roses Feeling Heat

I know that it is very hard not to prune away the brown leaves – I feel you. However, in September, pull out your pruning shears and prune back your rose bushes by 1/3. This removes the sun-damaged flowers and leaves and stimulates new growth. 

beautiful rose bloom

Comparative Benefits of Hot Arid Climates

If you lament the less-than-stellar appearance of your summer roses feeling heat, and think it’s easier to grow roses in other climates, you would be wrong. 

Oh, certainly, we have to deal with our roses not looking great in the summer.  But, compare that with gardeners in other regions who have to deal with the dreaded Japanese beetle that shows up every summer and eats their roses. Or, people who live in more humid climates and are having to deal with severe cases of blackspot or powdery mildew (white spots on the leaves).  

Blessing of Dual Bloom Seasons in the Southwest 

Lastly – we are fortunate to enjoy two separate bloom seasons for our roses.  In fall, when many other gardeners are putting their roses to bed for the winter, ours are getting ready to bloom a second time that year.

hot pink roses

And so, I will ignore my less than beautiful roses this summer, because I know that they will look fantastic this fall It is that simple ๐Ÿ™‚

Two New Roses Find a Home in a Desert Garden

locally owned plant shop

Finding the Perfect Plant Nursery

Navigating Plant Shopping Options

“Where do you recommend I go to buy plants? At a plant nursery?” This is one question that I’m often asked by desert dwellers. The choices that people have for purchasing plants range from a locally owned nursery, a nursery chain, or a big box store. So which is best? Well, that depends on the situation. So, I am going to give you my recommendations based on different factors.

Exploring the Local Nursery

local Plant Nursery

Local Nursery

Situation #1:

You have just moved into a new house and want to add some plants. The problem is you have no idea what kind of plants do well in your new region, how to care for them, or what type of exposure is best.

Answer:ย A Locally Owned Nursery

I would highly recommend visiting a locally owned nursery, which employs people who are knowledgeable about plants. Also, the types of plants they carry are most likely well-adapted to the growing conditions of your area as well.  

Local nurseries also sell a greater variety of plants.

The mature size of a plant often depends on what climate they are grown in.ย  So your local nursery professional can tell you how large the plant will become in your zone. Also, what type of exposure it needs along with watering and fertilizer requirements the plant will require.

You will pay a little more at a locally-owned nursery or a small chain. Saving money due to the excellent advice and well-adapted plants for the region is a bonus.

Consider the Big Box Store Nursery

Big Box Store plant shop

Big Box Store Nursery

Situation #2:

You have a list of plants that you need for your garden. Best yet, you are familiar with the plants that do well where you live and how to care for them. Also, your budget for purchasing new plants is small.

Answer: The Big Box Store

When you know exactly what plants you need you are at an advantage. If you have a tight budget, you may want to check out your big box store’s nursery

Another important thing is to be familiar the plant’s needs in advance. While nursery personnel may be helpful, not all of them are knowledgeable about plants.

The biggest benefit for shopping at a big box store’s nursery is that plants are often less expensive than at your local nursery.  Many also offer an excellent plant warranty as well.

One important thing to remember about shopping at a big box store nursery is that just because you see a plant there, does not necessarily mean that it will do well in your area.  I have seen quite a few plants available in my local big box store that is sold out of season or very difficult to impossible to grow where I live.

Shop Wisely for Your Garden

So where do I shop for plants? It depends on several factors.

Parry's Penstemon from plant nursery

Parry’s Penstemon (Penstemon parryi)

For flowering annuals, I shop at the nearby big box store as it’s hard to beat their variety and amount plants available.  

When I need perennials, shrubs, succulents, or trees, you’ll find me at my favorite local nursery. They grow most of their nursery stock, so I know that it is adapted to the climate.

While traveling to areas with similar climates to mine, I take time to see if they have any specialty nurseries and take time to visit.

I do need to confess that my favorite place to find plants is not at a nursery, but at my botanical garden’s seasonal plant sale. They have hard to find plants, and I know that whatever plants I come home with will do well in my garden.

bought from plant nursery

Regardless of where you shop for your plants, I highly recommend researching plants ahead of time.

Learn how big they get, what type of maintenance they require, watering needs and how it will do where you live.ย  You can find most of this information easily online by doing a simple search using the plant name + where you live, which will give you links on the plant and how it does in your area.

5 Tips for Choosing Plants From the Nursery

self-planted bouquet

The Joy of Unexpected Bouquets in the Garden

A Garden Surprise with Sandpaper Verbena

Have you ever had the experience of receiving an unexpected self-planted bouquet?

I’ve been blessed to have gotten bouquets throughout my life from my wonderful husband, my children, and in the past – from a boyfriend or two.

Blooming Definitions: Exploring the Concept of Bouquets

But recently, I was presented with a bouquet from an unlikely source.

If you look up the definition of the word, ‘bouquet’, it states “an attractively arranged bunch of flowers, especially one presented as a gift or carried at a ceremony.”

self-planted bouquet

Nature’s Gift: The Unplanned Bouquet in My Garden

This spring, I was delighted to see that my garden had presented me with an unexpected bunch of flowers – in other words, a bouquet.

This area in my front garden has a lovely Sandpaper Verbena (Glandularia rigida), which is a ground cover with vibrant purple flowers. It blooms spring through fall and thrives in full sun.

I planted the Sandpaper Verbena, however, I didn’t add the other flowers in this area.

The Unexpected Garden Companions: Blackfoot Daisy and Angelita Daisy

Last year, I noticed the white flowers of Blackfoot Daisy (Melampodium leucanthum) growing up in the middle of the Verbena. It came from a seed from a nearby plant that alighted in this area and grew in the presence of irrigation.

I liked the look and as the plants were doing well together, I left them to their own devices.

angelita daisy
Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis)

Well evidently, someone else wanted to join the party. Enter, Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) that came up on its own. I have several throughout the landscape and they do self-seed sometimes.

I absolutely adore colorful plants and I must say, I am so happy with this bouquet growing in my garden. As long as they play nice and one doesn’t try to take over the other, they can remain.

Who knows who will show up in my living bouquet next year?

mesquite tree Branches

Have you ever paused in the shade of a mesquite tree (Prosopis spp.) and noticed that its branches grow every which way? 

I was reminded of this when I was visiting a client earlier this week and was advising him on how to care for his mesquite tree. I looked up and saw a cluster of branches growing up, down, sideways, and in curvy pathways.

mesquite tree Branches

Texas Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)

In an ideal situation, mesquite trees resemble the shape of more traditional tree species, as shown above. However, they don’t always turn out this way. 

mesquite tree Branches

Have you ever wondered why mesquite trees grow in such crazy ways?

The answer is quite simple – in nature, mesquites grow as large shrubs. The branches of shrubs grow in all directions, up, down, sideways, etc., and so do mesquites.  

The problem arises when we train them up as trees, and their branches don’t always behave as trees do. Because of this, mesquites that have been pruned into trees, do best being pruned by a professional, particularly when they are young and certain branches are being chosen to remain while others are pruned off.

mesquite tree Branches

Of course, this doesn’t always happen, and you can see the results of bad pruning practices in many places. 

I do love the shade that mesquite trees provide and I must admit that I enjoy a good chuckle when I see the unusual shapes that some mesquite trees have taken.

How about you? Have you ever seen a mesquite tree with crazy branches?