Tag Archive for: Red Fairy Duster

Last time we ‘talked’, I was showing you a Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden that I was asked to work on.

“Creating a Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden”

As I promised, here is the photo of the finished project…

Hummingbird Garden

Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden

 Although the new plants are somewhat small and scraggly-looking, they will soon grow and produce many flowers.

Hummingbird Garden

Butterfly / Hummingbird Garden

We created a pathway throughout the garden and groups of plants will visually guide visitors along the curved path.

The pathway was made of 1/4″ stabilized decomposed granite, which is essentially decomposed granite that has been mixed with a stabilizer.  This creates a natural pathway that has a hard surface.

As I promised last time, here is a list of butterfly / hummingbird reflecting plants that we included:

Autumn Sage  (Salvia greggii) Butterfly & Hummingbird

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) Butterfly & Hummingbird

Baja Ruellia  (Ruellia peninsularis) Hummingbird

Baja Ruellia  (Ruellia peninsularis) Hummingbird

Black Dalea  (Dalea frutescens) Butterfly / Hummingbird

Black Dalea  (Dalea frutescens) Butterfly / Hummingbird

Damianita  (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Damianita  (Chrysactinia mexicana)

Firecracker Penstemon  (Penstemon eatonii)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Firecracker Penstemon  (Penstemon eatonii)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Globe Mallow  (Sphaeralcea ambigua)Butterflies 

Globe Mallow  (Sphaeralcea ambigua)Butterflies 

Lantana (all species)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Lantana (all species)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Red Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)Butterfly / Hummingbird

Red Fairy Duster  (Calliandra californica)

Red Fairy Duster  (Calliandra californica) Butterflies / Hummingbirds 

These are but a few of the plants that will attract butterflies and/or hummingbirds.  So how about including some in your garden?

Now, the title of this post does NOT apply to me.  My ancestors hail from Northern Europe and so whenever a sunny day beckons me outdoors, you will find me with my hat and my sunscreen.

What this title does refer to are plants that not only thrive in our full desert sun, but those that can even thrive in areas with hot, reflected heat.  Just picture a brick wall, facing west, getting the full force of the sun in the afternoon.  Believe it or not, there are quite a few plants that do quite well in the summer sun and seem to be saying “Bring it On”.

Full desert sun

Full desert sun

Most people either hate or love Bougainvillea.  If you have a pool – do NOT use this plant as they can be quite messy.  That being said, I do love Bougainvillea and have two planted along the back wall that receives afternoon sun.  They do extremely well and actually flower more when in full sun.

Full desert sun

For those who prefer using native plants, Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) provides beautiful yellow flowers in the winter and spring.  Their gray leaves provide a great color contrast to your other plants throughout the year, even when not in flower.

Full desert sun

Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens), a native from our neighboring Chihuahuan Desert, is a favorite of mine to use in hot, sunny areas.  There are quite a few different Leucophyllum species that come in a variety of leaf colors and offer flowers in shades of purple, pink and white.  They can grow up to 6 ft. high and are great for covering up a large expanse of a brick wall.

Full desert sun

Red Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) is a wonderful plant to use in sunny locations.  Red flowers are produced year-round, although the heaviest bloom occurs in the spring and fall months.  They are a great favorite of hummingbirds.

Full desert sun

Cassia species are a wonderful export to us from Australia.  There are four different species that are commonly found in our area, but my two favorites are Silvery Senna (Senna phyllodenia) and Desert Senna (Senna artemisioides sturtii).  Beautiful flowers appear in winter and last through spring.

Full desert sun

It is no surprise to those who have read my blog for any length of time that I would add Globe Mallow Sphaeralcea ambigua) to my list of sun-loving plants.  The shrub above, is located in my front garden and I will soon be planting some seeds along the wall in my back garden, which faces west and receives full sun all afternoon.

Hopbush

Whether you prefer the green or purple leafed Hopbush (Dodonaea viscosa), both types will grow upright and produce an evergreen shrub that will thrive in the sun.

succulent plants

Many succulent plants do well in areas with hot, reflected heat.  But a word of caution – just because a plant is a succulent (stores water in it’s leaves), does NOT mean that it can handle full sun.  However, Soaptree Yucca (Yucca elata) does very well in the hot sun.

Red Yucca

This is one of my favorite succulent plants.  Red Yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) is actually not a yucca at all.  But it’s succulent leaves make it look like an ornamental grass.  In spring and summer red flowers start to bloom.

Chuparosa

Chuparosa (Justicia californica) can be seen along the roadsides throughout the desert.  They are decorated with orange/red tubular flowers that hummingbirds just love.  If they can thrive out in the open desert, they can do very well in your garden.

I hope this list is helpful to those of you who have an area that receives hot, reflected heat that desperately needs a plant.  By adding a plant to areas such as these – actually help to cool that area down because the plant actually absorbs the sun’s rays and keeps them from heating up the surrounding wall, rock, etc.

**Please stay away from planting plants such as Hibiscus, Roses, Citrus and Heavenly Bamboo in these areas.  They do not do well in areas with hot, reflected heat.  However, all of these plants will do very well in north, south and eastern exposures.

If you are reading a plant label at the nursery to see what type of exposure the plant requires, please keep the following in mind.  Full sun in the desert is quite different from the full sun experienced in other areas of the country.  For example, a Hibiscus shrub that is growing in San Diego, can handle full sun.  However, the intensity of the sun coupled with the heat of desert, will make it difficult for a Hibiscus to handle being planted in a western exposure in Arizona.

And so in closing, I hope this list will prove helpful to you as you search for the right plant for that particular area in your garden.

Large Trees and Little Leaves…

I love color in the garden.  My garden is full of flowering shrubs and perennials.  I am blessed to live in an area where it is possible to have flowers in my garden 12 months of the year.  My favorite way to accomplish this is to include plants that flower most, if not all year long.

Today, I would like to share with you some of my favorites….

full of flowering

Full of flowering, Angelita Daisy (Tetraneuris acaulis) Flowers year-long with heaviest bloom occurring in spring and fall.

full of flowering

Red Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) This shrub has beautiful flowers 12 months of the year.  Blooming does slow down in winter, but flowers are still present.

full of flowering

Pink Bower Vine (Pandorea jasminoides) Two of these vines grace the front entry to my house.  They produce flowers all year, but do slow during the hot summer months.

full of flowering

‘Blue Bells’ (Eremophila hygrophana) Resembles Texas sage, yet stays compact at 3 feet tall and wide.  Purple flowers are produced all 12 months of the year.

Baja Ruellia

Baja Ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis) One of my absolute favorite shrubs.  Purple flowers are present all year, but blooming slows down in winter.

Cape Honeysuckle

Cape Honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) Reliable bloomer throughout the year.  Hummingbirds flock to the beautiful orange flowers.  Winter temperatures slow down blooming.

Mexican Bird-of-Paradise

Mexican Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana) This versatile shrub can be trained as a small tree.  I have 4 in my landscape.  Yellow flowers are produced off and on all year.

Purple Trailing Lantana

Purple Trailing Lantana (Lantana montevidensis) In a protected area (under an overhang or underneath a tree), this groundcover can bloom all year long.  The lantana pictured above, was located underneath an overhang which is why is still looked wonderful in January when I took this photo. 

I live and work in zone 9a and so the plants bloom times are affected by our highest and lowest temperatures.  As a result, many of the plants that do flower all year long will slow down in the winter and fewer blooms will be produced.  But, in my experience, there are still flowers even in January.  

Plants such as the lantana and cape honeysuckle will produce more blooms in the cold winter months if planted in protected area.  Examples of protected areas are up against a house, underneath the eaves or underneath a tree.  I have a bougainvillea that has stayed green all winter and still has flowers on it because it is located underneath a tree.

I hope you will try some of my favorite flowering plants.  For those of you who live in different climates, look for plants that will provide you with color for as long as possible.  If you cannot have blooming flowers year-long, then try incorporating plants with beautiful foliage and textures so that there is always something beautiful to see in your garden every single month of the year.

**For more suggestions for colorful plants for your arid garden, I recommend Arizona Gardener’s Guide, which lists hundreds of trees, shrubs and perennials that add beauty while thriving in our often challenging climate.

 

 
 
Baja fairy duster

Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica) is a must-have for the desert garden.  There is so much to love about this shrub.  

My favorite attribute is that it flowers off and on all year.  Its red flowers are shaped like miniature feather dusters.  Also, this plant attracts hummingbirds, is low-maintenance, drought tolerant and great by swimming pools because of its low litter.

Baja fairy duster has a vibrant red flower, which is often a color missing in the desert plant palette.  The majority of flowering occurs spring through fall, but some flowering can occur in areas that experience mild winters.  

It is native to Baja California, Mexico and is also called red fairy duster by some.  It is evergreen to 20 degrees F.  During some unusually cold winters when temperatures dropped into the high teens, I have had some killed to the ground, but they quickly grew back from their roots. 

Baja fairy duster

USES: This shrub grows to approximately 4 – 5 ft. High and wide, depending on how much you prune it, so allow plenty of room for it to develop.  

It makes a lovely screening shrub, either in front of a wall or blocking pool equipment, etc.  It also serves as a colorful background shrub for smaller perennials such as damianita, blackfoot daisy, Parry’s penstemon, gold or purple lantana and desert marigold.  

Baja fairy duster can take full sun and reflected heat but can also grow in light shade.  It is not particular about soil as long as it is well-drained.

Baja fairy duster

  Baja fairy duster in the middle of a desert landscape, flanked by desert spoon to the left and ‘Torch Glow’ bougainvillea to the right.  Red yucca is in the foreground.

MAINTENANCE:  As I mentioned before, this is a very low-maintenance shrub.  Some people shear this shrub, which I DO NOT recommend.  This removes most of the flowers and takes away from the natural shape of this shrub.  However, it’s size can be controlled with proper pruning.  Pruning should be done in late spring and should be performed with hand-pruners, NOT hedge clippers.

Baja fairy duster does require regular irrigation until established but then is relatively drought-tolerant.  However, proper watering is needed for it to look its best and flower regularly, which is what I do.  

Other than adding compost to the planting hole, no other amendments or fertilizer is needed.  Most native desert plants have been adapted to growing in our nutrient deficient soils and do best when left alone in terms of fertilizing.  I tell my clients to fertilize only if the plant shows symptoms of a nutrient deficiency.

So, go to your local plant nursery and get some of these beautiful shrubs for your garden.  Then, while you sit and enjoy its beauty, you can debate what you love most about it….the beautiful year-round flowers, the hummingbirds it attracts, it’s low-maintenance, or come up with your reasons.