Desert Bird of Paradise quick facts

Arizona’s well-known desert bird of paradise shrubs burgeon with vivid red flowers or delightful yellow blooms.  The red bird of paradise, Caesalpinia Pulcherrima, is our favorite and we have several constituting a border.

drought resistant shrubs with flowers
drought tolerant bushes with red flowers

This Red Bird of Paradise is a drought and heat tolerant shrub that relishes full sun with its lively red- orange flowers cultivating out of long, thin stalks.

drought tolerant shrubs
Desert Bird of Paradise with red flowers

All the Desert Bird of Paradise bushes are Perennial (only plant them once).  Pruning and trimming is standard since these desert plants are easy growers; reaching over 10 feet tall.  PRUNING your Desert Bird of Paradise

Looking for detailed information on the Mexican Bird of Paradise pictured below?

drought tolerant desert shrub
Mexican Desert Bird of Paradise with yellow flowers

Caring for your Desert Bird of Paradise:

  • Exposure: full sun,  gets leggy in shade and blooming is reduced
  • Water:  deep irrigation; twice a week while blooming; height & growth rate determined by water supply
  • Propagation: been pod seed, very easy; peat pots provide easy transplanting
  • Soil: very tolerant, needs good drainage
  • Hardiness: damaged at 32°F, with increasing damage as temperature decreases
  • Leaves: fern-like, normally bright green turning red in winter, sometimes leafless in winter
  • Range:  common throughout Arizona Sonora desert, Mexico and naturalized in Texas
  • Maintenance:   pruning every year; sometimes pruned to ground in winter, periodic trimming to keep it shaped
Texas yellow bird of paradise
Yellow Desert Bird of Paradise with long red stamen

More details for the Yellow Bird of Paradise shrub pictured below.

tucson texas bushes with yellow flowers
Yellow Bird of Paradise bush with red stamen

PROPAGATION:

Peat Pots are great and make growing and transplanting your Desert Bird of Paradise seedlings easy. Start your seeds indoors and when you are ready to plant simply put the entire pot in the ground. Roots will penetrate the peat pot and the pot disintegrates enriching the soil.

germinating seeds
dissolving pots for Bird of Paradise seeds

To germinate Bird of Paradise seeds,  soak the seeds from the bean pods (pods need to be brown) in water for 48-72 hours.  Next plant them in peat pots, barely cover the seeds.  You may prefer to use the paper towel method to germinate your seeds; if so, when a white shoot (root) appears, plant it with the white root DOWN. Cover the seeds lightly with damp soil.

germinating and planting seeds
planting the seeds from the bean pods

Bird of Paradise seeds need at least 8 hours of sun, but not direct sun; it will be too hot! You can start to give them a little more direct sun after the first leaves appear.

phoenix heat tolerant plant with flowers
Red Bird of Paradise shrubs with cactus

These resilient desert bushes THRIVE in intense heat and look stunning with cactus, succulents, Lantana, even Bougainvillea!

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Honeysuckles made # 5 – in the top Ten Heat Resistant plants for Arizona

Honeysuckles love the Arizona heat and the hummingbirds love the honeysuckle.  Now that is a desert garden delight!

As long as I water this thirsty honeysuckle shrub it will produce abundant blooms most of the year.  The narrow, orange, tubular flowers give enthusiasm to the garden with their bright colors.

heat resistant honeysuckle
heat-resistant orange honeysuckle

Our orange honeysuckles are fast growing perennial plants that are low maintenance.  Care for your honeysuckle with regular watering and pruning to keep the growth under control. With 180 species of honeysuckles, genus Lonicera, you can pick from pink, yellow, white, orange, red, etc., flowers.  Honeysuckles belong to the Caprifoliacea family which includes all types of woody shrubs and fragrant vines.

When choosing a honeysuckle to grow, be sure to check the label as some varieties are hardier than others and can cope with frost.  Also, there exists a few species of honeysuckle that are considered invasive such as Japanese honeysuckle.

common honeysuckle
Japanese honeysuckle is considered invasive

Pruning tips for honeysuckle vines:  Prune your plant in later winter when it is dormant.  With pruning shears, remove dead blooms from your honeysuckle as soon as you see them.

honeysuckle
honeysuckle flower

Tree, fence, trellis or wall; honeysuckle vines will climb on anything to seek out the sun.

orange honeysuckle flower
orange honeysuckle flower

Our garden has become a very busy place.  It is October in the Arizona desert and our honeysuckles are still blooming.  What a joy to sit quietly and watch the butterflies and hummingbirds feast on the bright tubular flowers.

Honeysuckle bush
Arizona heat-resistant Honeysuckle plant
Honeysuckle and Salvia plants for hummingbirds
Honeysuckle and Salvia plants for hummingbirds, butterflies

These heat tolerant honeysuckle plants did well even in full desert sun as long as they received their daily water.

native arizona honeysuckle
Lonicera arizonica Arizona honeysuckle

In the photo above is Lonicera arizonica which is a native Arizona Honeysuckle.  It is a perennial vine or shrub that you find in the open at elevations of 6,000 – 9,000 feet.  According to Northern Arizona University, this native honeysuckle was used by Native Americans to cleanse the bowels.  Navajo tribes used the leaves of the Lonicera arizonica  to induce vomiting.  Can I eat the red berries from the Arizona honeysuckle?  Yes you can eat the berries but it will have a purgative effect.

Pomegranate is #1 in our TOP 10 Heat Resistant Plants!

The bountiful pomegranate tree is native to the Mediterranean region which has similar growing conditions as the Arizona Sonoran Desert.  Pomegranates thrive in the drier climates of California and Arizona.  As a matter of fact, in 2009 the first commercial pomegranate farm started in Arizona. This fruit tree seems satisfied with our alkaline soil and experiences no deficiencies!

punica granatum red fruit
Pomegranate tree

Although the pomegranate originated in Iran, ancient records show it is one of the oldest known cultivated fruits.  Biblical Archaeologists discovered fruit such as the pomegranate,  was much more than a food; it had symbolic significance for the Ancient Israelites.  The antiquated Greeks believed pomegranate juice was the “symbol of love”.  The botanical name for pomegranate is Punica granatum belonging to the family Lythraceae. P. granatum has more than 500 cultivars.  In 1769, the pomegranate was introduced into California by Spanish Settlers.

fruit of love pomegranate
Juicy pomegranate seeds

In the sizzling, sunniest area of our yard we now have five pomegranate trees, shrubs ranging from six months to six years old.  “Wonderful” is our cultivar and is also the most common cultivar for Arizona.  Recently,  we had record temperatures of 113 degrees F; with higher temps forecasted for next week.  There was some vexing over the younger plants, but it proved to be unnecessary.  We are delighted to report our Punica granatum flourished in the extreme desert heat!

leaves of the pomegranate
Pomegranate seedlings 3 months old

The adamant pomegranate is drought tolerant and does best with well-drained soil, semi-arid climates and plant hardiness zones 8 to 10.  The fruit is adversely affected in wetter climates along with the plant becoming prone to root decay.  Tolerant to frost down to 20 degrees F.  Easy to grow, this deciduous tree can mature to 30 feet; but it is more common to see pomegranates at 12 – 15 feet.

p granatum blossoms flower
bright red pomegranate flowers

The leaves of Punica granatum are glossy, narrow, lance-shaped and deer resistant.  The lavish flowers are bright orange-red with a fleshy tubular calyx.  Some cultivars are grown for their flowers alone and used as ornamental trees.

red seeds in pomegranate
white membrane inside of a pomegranate

Pomegranate fruit is a berry filled with seeds numbering 200 to 1,400.  The seeds are in a white, spongy, acidic membrane.  The outer skin is a tough , leathery texture.

red pomegranate
ripe pomegranate

HARVEST:

The fruit is ripe when it reaches its distinctive color and it makes a metallic sound when tapped.  Overripe fruit will begin to crack and the seeds will become harder.

pomegranate fruit
over-ripe pomegranate with cracks

EATING:

The easiest way to eat a p. granatum is to use a bowl of water to separate the seeds.  The seeds sink and the white membrane floats.

seeds of p granatum
sliced pomegranate fruit

Slice the fruit in half and then hold it upside down and beat gently with a wooden spoon so the seeds drop down in the water.

flowering desert shrubs red
Pomegranate is a heat resistant plant

Another reason Pomegranates ranked #1 on our list:

Purple, Yellow, and Red Lantana are some of the best drought resistant plants

Lantana is the best heat resistant plant that can add a punch of color to any flower bed. Lantana flowers come in a variety of orange, white, pink, yellow, purple, red and bi-color options.

These hardy plants are native to tropical regions of Africa and here in the Americas.  Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the VERBENA family, Verbenaceae.

yellow and red flowers bush
Lantana mounds and shrubs with continuous flowers

Depending on where you live and the type grown, Lantana plants can be treated as annuals or perennials.

Verbena, Lantana, requires heat to do well, so plant them where they will get plenty of sunWell-drained soil is a must, as Lantana won’t tolerate wet roots.

yellow lantana to attract butterflies
yellow colors of Lantana plants
  • More nurseries seem to sell Lantana plants by color and not by name.
best drought and heat resistant plants
Lantana shrubs and mounds

Trailing are the more popular low-growing, spreading types of Lantana, VerbenaPurple trailing Lantana looks beautiful cascading over walls or in hanging baskets.

  • New Gold Lantana – has deep yellow flowers
perrenial flowering plant
Texas New Gold Lantana
  • Dallas Red or Texas Flame Lantana – has red, yellow and orange flowers
Irene species of Lantana plants
Red Orange Yellow Lantana species in the Verbena plant family
  • Lantana shrubs with pink and light yellow flowers is called Pinkies Lantana or Confetti.
plants to attract butterflies
pink and yellow Lantana

Can you grow Lantana in containers?  You bet!  Lantana does well in pots that are in a sunny location.

pink camara shrub lantana flowering
Lantana Camara Plant, called Confetti Lantana

Are you looking for low maintenance plants that are drought resistantLantana is a good choice that is worth a try!

color ideas for your garden
red and yellow flowering Lantana next to oleander bushes

Lantanas are planted in spring once the threat of frost has ended.  These flowering plants love warm temperatures so growth may be slow at first.

grow Lantana heat tolerant plants
Trailing Purple Lantana in containers

Do you want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your gardenLantana flowers are one of the best choices for attracting butterflies.

Heat resistant tolerant flowering plant
Flowering Purple Trailing Lantana

When should I water my Lantana, Verbena plants?  On average the ground Lantana need a good soaking twice a week. A good indicator is the leaves.

Lantana growing in containers may need to be watered more depending on the temperature.

flowering plants for borders
Very hardy Gold Lantana is great for borders

If your Lantana is wilting, then water it but try not to get water on the leaves.  The sun can burn Lantana leaves that have water on them.

The stems of your Lantana are HOLLOW so overwatering will cause your Lantana roots to rot.

Red Salvia is # 3 – in the top Ten Heat Resistant plants for the Arizona garden

Multitudes of people love Salvia.  These Salvia plants, better known as Sage or SCARLET sage, are indigenous to nearly all continents.

Most varieties of Salvia are heat resistant and drought tolerant along with providing colorful flowers that bloom lavishly.

Salvia varieties of sage
Red Salvia sage in pots, containers
drought tolerant red salvia
Red Sage, Scarlet Sage plants in containers

This plant is easy to grow and Salvias furnish over 900 species; offering amazing potential for your garden!  The lush green leaves of the Salvia plant are so attractive that this Sage looks handsome even when not in bloom.

heat tolerant plant salvia
growing salvia

Salvia is a member of the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family; the MINT family.  Hot temperatures are a considerable concern for our Arizona gardens and Red Salvia loves the heat!

Salvia splendens, Salvia coccinea, Salvia darcyi, Red Salvia, or commonly referred to as Scarlet Sage are hardy, impressive plants and our favorite choice because of their lovely red blooms.   These Red Salvia are not edible like the sage in your kitchen.

red salvia in container
growing Salvia in a pot

Like most Salvia, the fragrant foliage is deer and small critter-resistant.  One of our Scarlet Sage, RED SALVIA, gardens is growing in the open desert and available to all wildlife.  In the past several years, we can report that our desert sage was devoured 1 time by JAVELINA but has been left alone ever since.  Most likely the Salvia made them ill.

red salvia darci
red salvia is a heat resistant plant

A location with full sun is the best choice for most salvia varieties but some are shade tolerant.  Our Salvia located in part shade did not make it through the winter; on the other hand, the salvia plants in sunny locations come back year after year.

squirrel proof plants salvia
Salvia sage plants are critter proof

When the flowers are spent the Salvia will self-sow its seeds! Take a look at the photo below. No worries about Salvia being intrusive:  you can easily transplant the seedlings or share them with friends.  Simply pull up your unwanted plants.

baby salvia seedlings
salvia seeds itself

Sometimes called Autumn Sage, Red Salvia blooms continually from spring through fall. A garden plant “must have” that is perennial and hardy in Tucson and Phoenix.

Arizona red salvia in a pot
growing salvia in containers

Can you grow Salvia in pots and containers?  Absolutely! We have several different pots with gorgeous Scarlet Sage blooming throughout the yard.  Our favorite color of Salvia for our garden is red but many cultivars offer pastel blooms such as pinks and blues.

The main difference with growing Salvia in containers is:  1)  the plants need to be watered more often      2)  several of the small shrubs needed replaced after winter

red salvia in Arizona
salvia, Scarlet Sage plants in containers

The abundant showy flowers produce a good amount of nectar making them attractive to hummingbirds and some people have named salvia: HUMMINGBIRD SAGE.

red salvia plant seeds for finches
salvia plants attract small birds

Goldfinches and other birds visit the Salvia plant to pick out the tiny brown seeds hidden in the calyces.

garden plants to attract birds
birds eat salvia seeds

Deadheading Salvia encourages more blooms and more birds!  It can be so fun watching the Goldfinches pick out the seeds.  Salvia plants can get pretty tall and unshapely.  Prune the salvia stalks back for fresh growth and new blooms!  We trim often to keep a fuller shrub and nice shape.

red salvia desert garden plant
salvia, Red Hot Sally Sage varieties
colors of salvia heat resistant plants
red and blue salvia plants

Hardy Salvia has been a jewel in our garden and definitely worth a try. 🙂

desert plant with red flowers
Red Salvia, Salvia darcyi

 

Grow your Bougainvillea Plant in containers and pots. They LOVE IT !!

Will my Bougainvillea plant grow in a container?  Yes and it will be a very happy plant.  Bougainvilleas do great in most types of pots and containers.  These plants are not easy to transplant so make sure the pot you choose is big enough to last the Bougainvillea for years to come.

Although they like their roots crowded in a container, Bougainvilleas do not like standing water.  Make sure your pot has good drainage so the Bougainvillea does not get root rot.

Bougainvillea flowering bush shrub
Growing Bougainvillea in large pots

Fill your container with potting soil and place the bougainvillea plant inside.  Find a sunny location and it will be easy to keep your Bougainvillea happy and healthy.

growin Bougainvillea in pots
Bougainvillea plants on your patio

Bougainvilleas have beautiful red, pink and purple colored bracts, which are specialized leaves that contain the plant’s white slender flowers.

Bougainvillea plants can grow rather large so they must be kept pruned in pots and containers.  You can train your Bougainvillea to grow up a trellis or in the shape of a tree.

growing bougainvilleas shrubs
Pink Bougainvillea thriving in a large container

During the winter, Bougainvillea plants can be most striking and provide gardens with abundant color.  Winter is when Bougainvillea Vines and Plants reach their peak color.

heat resistant plants Bougainvillia magenta blooms
Bougainvillias are tropical plants, magenta flowers, heat tolerant

The small heart shaped bracts of the Bougainvillea are quite delicate to the touch, and are crinkly in appearance.

can I grow bougainvilleas in containers
Bougainvillea potted plant growing up a trellis

How long will a Bougainvillea plant display their color?  The length of time depends on how much sun and heat it receives and how healthy the Bougainvillea plant is.

Typically, a healthy Bougainvillea will bloom for about 3 weeks.

Bougainvilleas love sun and more sun.  They are heat tolerant and the hotter the better.  At the very minimum Bougainvilleas need at least 5 hours of direct sunlight.

Desert flowering vines
Bougainvillea pink leaves and white flowers

Supply your Bougainvillea with regular monthly fertilization.  Nitrogen and phosphates are critical to flowering.  One of the best Bougainvillea fertilizers I’ve come across so far is BOUGAIN.

Pink flowers on Bougainvillea plants are leaves
large containers to grow Bougainvillea Plants

You can prune your Bougainvillea any time during the year because it does not affect bloom initiation.  If you want the Bougainvillea to grow up, then prune the outer branches.  If you want your Bougainvillea to grow out, then prune the new growth.  Trim your Bougainvillea drastically before bringing it inside for winter.

Bougainvillea tree plants
Bougainvilleas blooming in pots

Bougainvillea plants and vines have a BLOOM CYCLE followed by a rest cycle whether you trim them or not.

I recommend a little trim or pinching at the end of each Bougainvillea bloom cycle as it promotes more budding for the next one.  Our plants just ended a bloom cycle so I will be trimming Bougainvilleas this week.

Pruning Desert Bird of Paradise bushes and shrubs

flowering desert shrubs fern leaves Texas
AZ TX Desert Bushes with Red Orange Flowers fern leaves

When should you prune desert bird of paradise shrubs?

Caesalpinia pulcherrima plant with red flowers fern leaves
Red Bird of Paradise shrubs orange flowers and fern leaves in the AZ TX desert

Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise,  Caesalpinia pulcherrima , which is what I have, should be in late winter or early spring.

Arizona bushes with red flowers
Red Bird of Paradise is sometimes called Mexican Bird of Paradise

I pruned mine a few weeks ago with a sharp pair of garden sheers. Many people cut these plants almost to the ground. I don’t, I prune my Red Bird of Paradise bushes about 18 inches from ground level.

Red Bird of Paradise cutting
Trimming Caesalpinia pulcherrima – pruning desert Bird of Paradise bushes

Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise bushes, trees, and shrubs thrive in dry conditions; once established, they are drought tolerant plants, with fern looking leaves blooming with orange, red or yellow flowers.

Texas shrubs with orange red flowers
Red Desert Bird of Paradise, drought tolerant plants
bushes with bean pods orange flowers
Red Bird of Paradise shrub in AZ TX CA Mexico

The Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise need very little pruning.

Caesalpinia gilliesii is a drought tolerant desert shrub
Yellow Bird of Paradise has red stamens and yellow flowers

Caesalpinia gilliesii, or sometimes called Yellow Bird of Paradise or Desert Bird of Paradise is a shrub that has been naturalized in Texas;  planted as to give an effect of wild growth and may some year be considered native in the rest of the southwestern US.  In the photo below see the yellow bird of paradise, Caesalpinia gilliesii.

TX bush with yellow flowers and bean pods
Yellow flowering Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia gilliesii

This yellow flowering desert shrub has clusters of beautiful yellow flowers with long red stamens.  The Yellow Bird of Paradise is a fast growing, upright shrub that is originally from Argentina.  Pruning your Yellow Bird of Paradise bush will encourage dense growth.

Caesalpinia gilliesii mistaken for Mexican Bird of Paradise
Yellow blooming Bird of Paradise desert bush in AZ TX CA

Yellow Bird of Paradise is drought tolerant and very durable, also cold and heat tolerant. Exposure to full sun is best for ALL Bird of Paradise Plants.   The yellow bird of paradise shrub is toxic.  

drought tolerant desert bush shrub
Yellow Bird of Paradise bush with Red Stamens bean pods

This Hardy Bird of Paradise shrub can grow to the height of 10 ft.

In the early Spring, prune to remove dead or damaged stems.  In the summer water your Yellow Bird of Paradise every week.  Water it deeply to stimulate an effective root system and tap-root.

The Mexican Bird of Paradise bush can be pruned and trained into a small tree, see photo below.

Bushes with round leaves yellow flowers desert
Mexican Bird of Paradise bush yellow flowers round leaves
desert shrub with yellow flowers in Arizona
Caesalpinia mexicana, Mexican Bird of Paradise with yellow flowers round leaves

In the photo ABOVE see the yellow flowers and rounded shape of the leaves on the Mexican Bird of Paradise bush or tree.

Caesalpinia mexicana yellow flowers
Mexican Bird of Paradise tree shrub with yellow flowers

Whether you pick the Yellow, Mexican or Red Bird of Paradise shrubs or trees,  you are certainly choosing a winner for your desert garden!

shrubs with bean pods red flowers
Desert bush with orange red yellow flowers, bean pods

The daisy-like bush, Euryops are # 4 – top Ten Heat Resistant plants our Arizona garden

Do you want a flowering plant that can take the hot heat and last through the winter?  Euryops are low maintenance and good on the budget!  I waited over a year before writing about this daisy like plant so I could document what animal critters would eat our Euryops.

shrub with daisy flowers in Arizona
Daisy like bush that is perennial

It is a pleasure to state Euryops are CRITTER proof;  NOT even the Javelina ate our daisy bushes!  Replacing desert plants can become costly; therefore this Euryops cultivar VIRIDIS rates HIGH on our list!

drought heat tolerant daisy plants
bushes with yellow daisy flowers, Euryops

Euryops is a genus in the Asteraceae family –  Daisy family.  The Green leaved variety is Euryops pectinatus Viridis.  This robust heat resistant plant is native mostly to rocky sites in southern Africa.

low cost drought tolerant plants
Euryops are heat tolerant daisy-like plants

They produce cheerful yellow daisy flower heads from fern-like leaves.  Euryops are perennial and a very hardy plant, bush or shrub.

heat resistant daisy bush
yellow daisy flower of the Euryops bush

When winter comes to the Arizona desert, our Euryops still look amazing while other desert plants go dormant.  This daisy bush is cold tolerant to 20 degrees F or -7 Celsius.   Plant your daisy shrub in a sunny location that is key!

Yellow is the only flower color, but it’s a bright, sunny yellow bloom that enlivens your garden in the winter. 🙂

heat resistant desert plants
Euryops look attractive next to Brittlebush

Because Euryops are an evergreen, perennial plant they are an ideal choice for flower beds and borders.

drought heat tolerant plants
Euryops daisy like plant

Euryops will tolerate being cut back quite hard after flowering or if you want them to develop some height give them a light pruning.

drought heat tolerant plants
Euryops daisy like plant

Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system.

**Euryops Viridis generally keep its deep green color leaves even in the heat of summer, although lower leaves may become brown and need to be removed.  Once the yellow flowers have faded, trim off the dried ones to help encourage the Euryops to produce more blooms!

drought tolerant arizona plant
yellow flowers of Euryops shrub
  • Water Needs — water regularly; do not OVERWATER
  • Flowers are good for cutting and displaying in vases
  • Perennial and Evergreen
  • Loves to grow in containers and pots

We had 2 healthy Euryops planted in large containers that died over the winter.  The reason was the shade in their location.  Lesson learned:  when planting Euryops pick an area with the most sun!

Euryops bush with yellow daisy flowers
heat resistant daisy shrubs

This jubilant plant tolerates drought well; but doesn’t mind if it gets regular water.  The daisy blooms give personality to cacti in Xeriscape yards.  Euryops are frost tolerant down to USDA zone 8.

daisy flowering plants in containers
Euryops daisy plant in pots

Even without flowers, the feathery leaves of Euryops give the garden interest and a sense of lushness. The Viridis cultivar has deep green leaves, while the Euryops Munchkin cultivar has gray-green leaves.

best desert winter plants with color
Euryops are critter proof plants

Euryops have it all!  This foolproof plant is  HEAT, DROUGHT and ANIMAL resistant.

If you want to add color to your winter garden, consider Euryops!  This easy on your budget, yellow daisy bush is hardy and flowers through winter while planted in a sunny location.

Propagation:

Euryops stem cuttings root reasonably easy.  Summer is the best time to take cuttings.  You can also allow seed heads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds.

*HONEYSUCKLES made #5 in Top HEAT Resistant Plants

Red Geraniums made # 7 in my top Ten Heat Resistant plants for southern Arizona

Zonal geraniums can last for years with the right growing conditions.  The red geraniums pictured in this article are the first plant my husband and I acquired when we were married.    They are very unique and add a velvety, radiant color to our desert garden even with the record-breaking 2012 temperatures.

This red flower is called a zonal geranium.  What is a zonal geranium?  Zonal geraniums are the genus Pelargoniums, and are NOT true geraniums. This species of flowering plants work well in Arizona and Texas because they are drought resistant, perennial and heat tolerant.  Zonal geraniums originated from South Africa and have become very popular as bedding and container plants.

Important fact:  Geraniums, Pelargoniums, are poisonous to dogs and cats.  If your pet eats a geranium contact your local veterinarian right away.

Zonal Geranium in Arizona
planted zonal geraniums in Arizona

I’m always on the lookout for a plant that adds a softness to a thorny, spiky desert garden.  Amazingly, a red geranium can thrive almost as well as a cactus.  We have several throughout our Arizona yard that are either in full sun or sparse shade.  All of our zonal geraniums are doing well; but, the ones with semi shade have larger leaves and more flowers.

zonal geraniums bedding

Caring for geraniums is easy:

  • They love the sun but do well in sparse shade especially with high temperatures
  • Plant Pelargoniums when there is no danger of frost, they do not like the cold
  • In the fall plants may be dug up and brought indoors by a sunny window away from your dogs and cats
  • Water geraniums when the top 2 inches of the soil feels dry
  • Zonal geraniums are critter proof and virtually insect free 🙂
heat resistant geraniums
hanging basket of Red Geraniums in Arizona

Pelargoniums are low-maintenance and a great choice for xeriscape yards.  Grow your geraniums from seed or plant cuttings.

If your geranium has yellow or red leaves it is experiencing stress in some way.  The most common causes of red or yellow leaves are:

  1. your geranium – pelargonium is over-watered
  2. phosphorus deficiencies, are you fertilizing?  If it has gotten cooler at night and the temperature drops below 55 your geranium will not be able to absorb trace minerals.
  3. another possibility is too much sun
  4. or planted too close together

Too diagnose the problem simply look at the exact conditions your plant is growing in.

Red Geranium is a zonal geranium
Pelargonium is a zonal geranium

Even with the best of care a few leaves will inevitably turn yellow; simply remove them along with spent flowers.

In the fall temperatures drop and red leaves on pelargoniums are a sign that it is time to move indoors or to take cuttings from annual cultivars.

October is barely here and I’m already daydreaming about plans for a colorful, lush spring heat-resistant garden.

 

Our Desert is cascading with purple flowering bushes

This weeks rain invoked shrubs with purple flowers everywhere.  Arizona’s most popular perennial, drought resistant,  desert shrub is the Purple Texas Sage or sometimes call Texas Ranger Plant.

tucson purple bush
Purple Texas Sage

Texas designated Texas purple sage (Leucophyllum frutescens) as the official state native shrub in 2005.  The Texas Sage desert shrub is sometimes referred to in Phoenix, Arizona as Purple sage.

texas sage with red bird of paradise

While driving through the city of Tucson, Arizona I came across a field of purple, red, orange, and yellow blooming bushes.  The picture above is a Texas Ranger Plant, purple texas sage, next to a Red Bird of Paradise desert plant. What a perfect combination of two of the best flowering drought tolerant bushes available.

purple sage bush

This gray leafed desert shrub adds interest to your garden even when it is not in bloom because of the color of the evergreen leaves. Purple Texas Sage is deer resistant, heat resistant, drought tolerant and a good choice for xeriscape gardens.  Watch for purple blooms from May through October.  Your Purple Texas Ranger Plant does best with full sun.  This Purple flowering bush is a very hardy desert plant with low maintenance and is easy to find.

purple texas sage

Those beautiful dazzling purple flowers, pictured above, will come out after rain or when it is humid. You can also encourage flowering by giving them extra water. Let the ground dry out between waterings so you do not cause the roots to rot.

purple Texas Sage as a hedge

The main challenge for your Purple flowering desert bush is the fact you will want to prune them to keep your Purple Sage plant looking neat.  So if you want to trim your purple sage shrub into a hedge just remember – the best time to prune your purple Texas Sage is when it is NOT flowering.  It is best NOT to trim it when the purple flowers are in bloom.

Desert Shrubs – Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Lacy leaves and continually blooming red, orange with a splash of yellow flowers on my Bird of Paradise Arizona shrub. I was worried that the monsoon rains from this week would damage my young Red Bird of Paradise plant. No worries! I have new orange, yellow and red flowers decorating our driveway and the hummingbirds love it.

Arizona and Texas bushes
bushes with bean pods and orange flowers

The Southwest including California, Arizona, and Texas are cascading with these flowering desert plants and hardy drought tolerant bushes.

orange flowering arizona bushes
Bird of Paradise shrub with orange flowers

Some my even think the Red Bird of Paradise is a native plant of Arizona. Actually,  Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima,  is native to the tropics and subtropics of the Americas and is also the NATIONAL flower of the Caribbean island of Barbados, which is why you may hear it called Pride of Barbados.

This flowering perennial shrub is one of the easiest desert plants to care for. Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy, drought tolerant once established. (they can have very long taproots) With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.

The Red Bird of Paradise

I’ve heard many people in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona refer to this orange and red desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The real Mexican Bird of Paradise has yellow flowers and is larger. The Mexican Bird of Paradise is native to Mexico.

Mexican Bird of Paradise is native to Mexico and has yellow flowers
Red Bird of Paradise in Tucson

The Red Bird of Paradise is a deciduous (loses its leaves) shrub that thrives in  full sun and has bright red, yellow and orange flowers that grow on long, thin stalks. The leaves are lacy,  ferny-looking. The Red Bird of Paradise is a fairly fast grower, and can get large, so periodic trimming is suggested.

yellow and orange flowering bush

A few bean pods are appearing on the Red Bird of Paradise bushes in our yard.  I look forward to propagating the seeds later this season as I’ve already located a sunny spot in our xeriscape desert garden to grow more. Red Bird of Paradise plants are a species in the FABACEAE Family, more commonly known as the pea, bean or legume family.

Bean Pods on Bird of Paradise bush
Bean Pods on Red Bird of Paradise

To germinate the Red Bird of Paradise seeds, I simply soak the seeds from the bean pods in water for 24 hours.  I put them in peat pots, barely cover the seeds. They germinate. Red Bird of Paradise seeds need at least 8 hours of sun, but not direct sun it will be too hot! You can start to give them a little more direct sun after the first leaves appear.

Peat Pots are great and make growing and transplanting your Red Bird of Paradise seedlings much easier. Start your seeds indoors and when you are ready to plant your Bird of Paradise just put the entire pot in the ground. Roots will penetrate the peat pot and the pot disintegrates enriching the soil.