Tag Archive for: Plants for Filtered Shade

Usually when I am called to a help out a homeowner with their landscape, it is because they are having a problem with their plants, or sometimes they are new to the desert and want to learn how to garden in our dry climate.  

Last week, I visited a homeowner who had some questions about whether or not he was taking good care of his garden.

His house is located just northeast of the metro Phoenix area, in the desert.  He and his wife had lived there for over 15 years and they designed their garden by themselves.

As I approached the front entry, I was greeted by this beautiful Ocotillo that was back lit by the morning sun…

Desert Garden

When approaching a new client’s house, I always look around their front garden, because it gives me an idea of their preferences and maybe problems that they are having.  This gives me a ‘heads-up’ before I actually meet the client.

His front garden was just beautiful and I was looking forward to seeing what his back garden looked like…

Desert Garden

There was a fireplace with a lovely seating area and you could see the pool surrounded by beautiful desert plants in the distance.

Desert Garden

The wall of his back garden backed right onto the desert.  He had some beautiful artistic pieces, including this metal Ocotillo.

Desert Garden

There was a very large Indian Fig cactus.  This type of prickly pear is very popular because it is thornless.  But it needs a lot of room to grow.

This particular Indian Fig was hiding something….

Indian Fig.

A beautiful water feature flowed from underneath the Indian Fig.

Rosemary grew along the side as well as potted annuals.

Isn’t this a beautiful area?

There was also an empty vegetable garden, but the homeowner did have herbs growing in containers….


 Many people keep their hummingbird feeders up year round because we have hummingbirds 12 months out of the year.

hummingbird feeders

This hummingbird faces a mirror.  The mirror serves two purposes, according to the homeowner:

One, it keeps the woodpeckers from making holes and second, it gives them an additional view of visiting hummingbirds.

You can see a little Verdin flying in for a drink of the hummingbird nectar.

Lastly, we viewed a shady area of his garden.

shady area of his garden

The plants in this area do very well in light shade.

There was Heavenly Bamboo to the left, Cape Honeysuckle to the right, Star Jasmine vine next to the door and Texas Mountain Laurel ‘Silver Peso’, which is a gray-leafed form.

I had a wonderful time visiting and I did have a few suggestions regarding proper watering and when to prune.

I hope you enjoyed seeing this beautiful desert garden with me.


Life is quite busy this week for me as I am sure it is for most of you with the upcoming holiday.

I will post again before Thanksgiving 🙂

Lesser Known Tropical Beauty for the Desert Garden

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.

Mexican Honeysuckle

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.

Mexican Honeysuckle

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.


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!  

An Imaginary Land With Real Plants

A Hummingbird Magnet

Do you like hummingbirds?

If so, you may want to make sure that you have some autumn sage (Salvia greggii) growing in your garden – it is a hummingbird magnet.

A Hummingbird Magnet

While red is the most common color of this small shrub, it also comes in other colors including shades of pink, purple, coral and white.

A Hummingbird Magnet

It has has a long bloom period in low desert gardens, beginning in fall and lasting until late spring. When growing in the flat desert, plant it in a filtered shade for best results.  Prune back by 1/2 its size in early March.