|My Abraham Darby shrub rose and my little dog, Tobey.|
Does the idea of having to venture outside, when temperatures are above 100 degrees, to care for your garden have you thinking twice? I must admit that there have been times when I have let the plants in my landscape fend for themselves in summer after setting the irrigation controller. But, there is often a price to pay afterward when you have to play catch up with extra pruning and other maintenance.
There are however many different plants that thrive in summer with little fuss allowing you to enjoy the comforts of your air-conditioned home while viewing your beautiful garden through the windows. Here are some of my favorite fuss-free plants for the summer garden.
Mexican honeysuckle has lush green foliage and produces tubular orange flowers throughout the entire year. They do best in filtered shade and attract hummingbirds. I like to plant them underneath trees such as mesquite or palo verde.
Learn more about Mexican honeysuckle.
Artichoke agave is highly prized for its rosette shape, and it’s easy to see where it got its name. The blue-gray color and maroon edges add great color contrast to the garden when it is placed alongside plants with dark and light-green foliage.
Of course, these are but one species of agave that would make a delightful, fuss-free addition to the summer garden. I also recommend cow’s horn agave (Agave bovicornuta), smooth-edge agave (Agave desmettiana), and Victoria agave (Agave victoria–reginae) to name a few.
‘Summertime Blue’ is a delightful shrub that needs next to no maintenance throughout the year and decorates the garden with its bright green foliage and violet-blue flowers that appear spring through fall. It grows slowly but will reach approximately 6 feet tall and wide. If given enough room, it can go a year (or two) before needing pruning. While you may have to look around for a nursery that carries it, it’s well worth the effort. It is also usually found at the Desert Botanical Garden’s spring and fall plant sales.
Lady’s Slipper is a uniquely shaped succulent with thornless stems that have a ‘Medusa-like’ growth habit that is more pronounced in light shade. The upright stems add a welcome vertical element to the landscape, and small orange flowers are produced off and on through spring and fall. They can be grown in containers or planted in the ground and do well in full sun or light shade.
Bush lantana is a familiar sight to many who live in arid climates like ours. This species of lantana is slightly different than the trailing gold and purple lantana. It has larger leaves, grows taller, and has multi-colored flowers that vary according to the variety. Bush lantana is a great choice for a colorful summer garden as they are seemingly heat-proof.
Totem Pole ‘Monstrosus’ (Lophocereus schottii ‘Monstrosus’)
Totem pole ‘Monstrosus’ has become quite a popular addition to the desert garden and it’s easy to see why with its knobby shape. Another bonus is that they are almost always thornless, which makes them suitable for areas near entries or patios where a prickly cactus aren’t welcome. Plant in full sun in a row for a contemporary look or place next to a boulder for a more natural appearance.
Learn more about totem pole cactus.
‘Heavenly Cloud’ Texas sage is well worth adding to your landscape for its lovely purple blossoms that appear off and on throughout the warm season, often in response to increased humidity. All species of Texas sage do well in summer and can be nearly maintenance-free if allowed enough room to reach their 8 foot tall and wide size as well as left to grow into their natural shape. This particular species blooms more than the more common ‘Green Cloud’ Texas sage.
Golden Barrel Cactus (Echinocactus grusonii)
Golden barrel cactus are wildly popular, and it is easy to see why with the globular shapes and yellow coloring. This cactus is quite versatile, able to grow in both sun and light shade. I like to use it in groups of three next to boulders or in a row. They also do well in containers planted singly or along with other succulents.
Learn more about golden barrel cactus.
In the past, succulents were valued primarily for their drought tolerance and found their way into gardens in arid regions. Today, while they are still a great choice for water-wise plants are wise, they offer many other benefits to outdoor spaces including adding colorful flowers and solving common garden problems.
I’ve written a series of articles for Houzz focusing on succulents and how you can add beauty to your garden with these versatile plants that will thrive in arid climates.
I hope you find inspiration through them and look at succulents in a new way.
How do you like to use succulents in your garden?
Living in the desert southwest, I am blessed to be able to grow a variety of citrus trees in my garden and they do very well under most circumstances.
However, when temperatures outside of the average highs and lows occur, steps need to be taken to protect them. With this week’s record-breaking highs, my orange tree has been suffering as is evident from its sunburned leaves. So I thought, this is a great opportunity to talk about how to protect citrus trees from a heatwave.
1. Provide temporary shade
The west and south-facing sides of citrus trees are susceptible to sunburn during a heatwave. This shows up as yellowing or browning on the leaves on those sides of the tree. Sunburn can also occur on immature citrus fruit, so it’s important to protect them.
While spraying citrus trees with sunscreen isn’t an option, adding temporary shade is. Put a large piece of burlap over the tree, focusing on those south and west-facing exposures. Burlap is inexpensive and does allow some sun to penetrate, which is important. You can purchase burlap at your big box store, nursery, or Amazon (affiliate link below).
You can use a bed sheet in place of burlap for temporary shade. Another option would be to place a shade tent/canopy to help block the sun’s westerly rays.
Shade cloth is very useful as a sun shield when placed on a scaffold or other support – it’s important not to rest it directly on the tree as it gets hot and can burn the leaves.
2. Increase irrigation and water early in the morning
When temperatures soar above normal, citrus trees, like most plants, lose more water through their leaves. As a result, their regular watering schedule isn’t enough to meet their needs, so increase the frequency of watering as long as the heat wave lasts.
When you water is vital as it is difficult for plants to uptake water in the middle of the day. This is because all of their resources are dedicated to enduring the stresses of the heat and it’s hard for them to divert those to uptake water. Water in the early morning, which will allow them to build up a water reserve that will help them through the day.
Once the heat wave is over, remove the temporary shade and resume regular watering. By implementing these two methods, you’ll enable your citrus trees to weather brutal summer temperatures and minimize any negative effects.
*Sun protection for the trunk and bark of citrus trees is essential throughout the entire year. Here is a past blog post showing you how to shield these parts of your tree and why it is so important.
Fall in the garden is a time of celebration with plants enjoying the period after the heat of summer has bid goodbye and before the cold of winter arrives.
This time of year is filled colorful blooming plants decorating our outdoor spaces. In the past few weeks, the color purple has made its presence known in several gardens that I have visited recently.
If you love the color purple, here are some plants that you may want to include in your garden.
Many of us are familiar with how over-pruning can take away much of the beauty of flowering shrubs, in addition to contributing to their early death.
But, have you ever wondered what they look on the inside?
I found this ‘ugly’ example alongside the drive-thru of Taco Bell.
My inbox has been filled lately with pruning questions. Specifically, how to prune back overgrown flowering shrubs.
|Chihuahuan Sage (Leucophyllum laevigatum)|
|‘White Cloud’ Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens ‘White Cloud’)|
|Pruned back to 1 ft.
This is the ugly stage. But you need to go through this ‘awkward’ stage to achieve beautiful, healthy shrubs.
|New growth appears 3 weeks later|
|8 weeks after pruning.|
|12 weeks after severe pruning.|
|Hand pruners, pruning saw and loppers|
The cold weather has arrived in my neck of the woods with even colder temperatures on their way later this week.
When temperatures dip below 32 degrees, you will find me wearing warm socks, slippers, a sweater, and cardigan when I’m indoors. But, besides me – frost-tender plants are also affected by the cold temperatures.
Have you ever wondered why your plant’s leaves turn brown and crispy after a freeze? Well, ice crystals form on the top of the leaves, which ‘sucks’ out the moisture from the leaf, leaving it brown and crispy.
|My neighbor made things worse by using plastic as a covering for his citrus trees.|
Many people tell me that they are tired of their boring, round green shrubs. Often, they are surprised when I tell them that those ‘boring’ green balls would actually flower if given a chance.
So, how do you take those boring green balls and turn them into beautiful, flowering shrubs?
|‘Green Cloud’ Texas Sage shrubs|
|Red Bird-of-Paradise shrubs, newly pruned.|
|‘Rio Bravo’ Sage, 1 month after severely pruning.|
|‘Green Cloud’ Texas Sage|
Well after a short break, I am here to showcase a lesser-known plant for you to try in your garden.
Today, my garden is enjoying copious amounts of rain. In the desert, the arrival of rain is something that is usually celebrated. Furthermore, add to that the fact that we have had a rather dry winter, I am very happy to be stuck inside today.
I am very excited to show you this lesser-known plant.
Are you ready? Drum roll please…
Flowers in winter.
When not in flower, attractive leaves cover the vine year round.
Fairly low-maintenance. Prune to control size if needed. Supplemental fertilizer is usually not needed.
Requires a trellis or other support to grow upwards.
Hardy to zone 9.
Can be used as a screen. For example, it will climb along a fence, blocking the view of what is inside.
So if you would like to try this beautiful vine in your garden; go to your nursery now. If you wait too long, you may have to wait until next year before you find another one to plant.
**It’s important to note that although the flowers look a bit like lilacs, they are not particularly fragrant.