Our native plants, like all the Mediterranean-climate-zone plants, tend to grow during the Winter rainy season, flower in the Spring, and then go into “conservation mode” through the Summer and into early Fall. In nature they thrive in perfect sync with the native pollinators, the browsers, the nest builders, and the fruit and seedeaters. They form the basis for our native ecosystem. If yours is a purely native garden, you too are in sync with these seasons.
Many local native plant enthusiasts however, are now successfully including in their gardens a few plants here and there, whose origin is just outside the boundaries of our region. The plants are from the heart of the Sonoran Desert. They can be incorporated into the California Garden on patios, in pots, in planter beds, plazas, and around pools, courtyards, and fountains. They will adorn these areas with many flowers in the hot months of Summer.
Plants from the low elevation deserts of Baja California, Arizona, and northern Mexico are truly adapted to extreme heat. They thrive in those regions because of an interesting climatic phenomenon known as “bimodal rainy season.” Unlike our plants on the cool continental coast, Sonoran plants get their rain in both Winter and Summer. And they bloom accordingly. The gentle winter rains cross over from the Pacific; we know all about those. But those unique Summer rains march in from the direction of the tropics, often in the form of violent thunderstorms. The vegetation responds in kind with an intense show. The desert blooms.
This bit of plant ecology works in the favor of the California gardeners who don’t mind providing a little summer irrigation to their southwestern gardens. The plants reply with colorful blooms during the hot months, thus providing an extended welcome to butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinators. When used in and among California natives, southwest plants will brighten any garden with beautiful color Spring through Summer and well into Fall.
At Casa ‘La Paz’ we have expanded our Southwestern House to include a large area in the full sun. These sturdy plants are just beginning to show their colors around May at Tree of Life. Visit us soon for a closer look at some wonderful desert varieties. You can use them dramatically with large stones, Agaves and other succulents, or more subtly with native grasses, perennials and shrubs. They are quite striking in pots or raised planters and will create a bright, carefree, south-of-the-border feeling in even the hottest part of you garden.
It’s Flower Power that helps you and your garden beat the heat.
Photos courtesy of Laura Camp
40 Southwestern Plants you can find in production at Tree of Life Nursery
|Agave||century plant (we have several types, a dozen or so Sonoran species)|
|Anisacanthus quadrifidus||desert honeysuckle|
|Antigonon leptopus||San Miguel coral vine|
|Asclepias curassavica||Tropical milkweed|
|Brahea armata||Blue Hesper palm|
|Caesalpinia californica||Vara prieta|
|Calliandra californica||Baja fairy duster|
|Chrysactinia mexicana||Damianita daisy|
|Cupressus Montana||San Pedro Martir cypress|
|Dudleya brittonii||Baja chalk dudleya|
|Euphorbia xantii||Baja confetti flower|
|Galvezia juncea ‘Punta Banda’||Baja bush snapdragon|
|Galvezia juncea ‘Gran Cañon’||Baja bush snapdragon|
|Hesperaloe parviflora||Red yucca|
|Hunnemannia fumariifolia||Mexican tulip poppy|
|Hymenoxys acaulis||Angelita daisy|
|Justicia purpusii||Chaparosa del Cabo|
|Lobelia laxiflora||Mexican lobelia bush|
|Lysiloma candida||Palo Blanco|
|Oenothera speciosa||Pink evening primrose|
|Oe. Stubbei||Saltillo evening primrose|
|Perityle incana||Guadalupe Island rock daisy|
|Philadelphus microphyllus||Little leaf mock orange|
|Rhamnus crocea ssp. Insula||Santo Thomas redberry|
|Rhus lentii||Pink-flowering sumac|
|Rhus microphylla||Lima de la sierra|
|Russelia equisetiformis||Coral fountain|
|Salvia||Sage (we have several types, a half dozen or so Sonoran species)|
|Senna lindheimeriana||Showy cassia|
|Sphaeralcea ‘La Luna’||La Luna desert mallow|
|Tagetes lemmonii||Mountain marigold|
|Tecoma stans||Yellow Bells|
|Tecoma ‘Orange Jubilee’||Jubilee Tecoma|
|Vaquelinia californica||Arizona rosewood|
|Verbena lilacina||Lilac Verbena|
|Yucca elata||Soaptree yucca|