Salvia darcyi, a hardy, heat resistant desert Garden Flower in a container!

RedSalvia darcyi,  survived well through the desert winter months that hit in the mid 30’s and does superb in the high heat as long as it is watered everyday! It is a thirsty plant during these temperatures of 100 degrees or more.  I recommend larger pots than the ones I used.

Salvia Darcii arizona plants
Red Salvia plants in containers
red salvia desert plant
remove the spent flowers from Salvia plants

This is by far the MOST hardy, successful flower in my Arizona Garden! This perennial Salvia will generally grow from between eighteen inches and thirty-six inches, yet there are some that are much smaller. Mine is averaging about 20 -22 inches. The red salvia in the picture is a young plant that actually started from a fallen seed. The photo above is just after I pruned the finished red flowers. From having Salvia (red and blue) for over 2 years now I have learned it is best to trim them quite far down the stem to gain a thicker shrub.  Best of all this flowering plant is critter proof.  Last year the desert rats, squirrels, and rabbits ate most of our flowers except the Salvia. Since then, we are determined to have a rat-proof, squirrel-proof, rabbit-proof thriving Garden.  Quick note: Hummingbirds love the flowers and will visit your garden often!

To keep your Salvia looking vibrant and encourage better flowering, deadhead the plant. You can do this by pinching or cutting off the flower spikes with spent blooms, I like to use small pruning shears.
red salvia heat resistant plant
growing Salvia plants in pots
Red salvia flowers can form a striking border when massed together. It is a good choice for a bedding plant. Some people call this perfect Arizona plant, Scarlet Sage.
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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

Canna Lily is my # 9 in the top Ten heat resistant plants

Our canna lilies were thriving during the intense heat that Tucson and southern Arizona experienced this summer.  Cannas are spectacular in our desert garden and I was thrilled it made the top 10 heat-resistant plants list.

We have several canna lilies that are growing in extra-large pots.  It is a joy to watch the leaves on this perennial plant shoot up and slowly unfurl into this tropical-looking foliage.

Canna lily heat resistant
heat resistant Canna lily

Caring for a canna lily requires low maintenance and is quite easy.  Ours receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight; which cannas prefer.  These lilies do well in large pots with good drainage.  When choosing a container, bigger is better!  This flowering plant does exceptional with some moisture so try not to let it dry out completely.

A canna lily is not actually a lily.  This exotic plant is related to the Ginger and Banana plants.  The flowers are beautiful but I have to admit my favorite part is the canna lily leaves.  The leaves are wide with a stripy pattern making cannas leaves the center of attention in our yard.

Order: Zingiberales, Family: Cannaceae, Genus: Canna

Canna lily flower
Canna lily flower

Infested cannas do not bloom, and generally look unhealthy.  Are bugs eating your canna lily leaves?  To address canna leaf rollers, cut off infested leaves or unroll leaves and destroy the caterpillar.  We spray bacillus thuringiensis, Bt, a few times a year when needed.  It is organic and easy to use if you follow the directions on the bottle.

bacillus thuringiensis
bacillus thuringiensis

To prune your canna lily simply cut the dead or damaged foliage at another leaf line to allow for new plant growth.

The rhizomes of Cannas are similar to potatoes but sweeter.  In South America they are grown for food.  Peel and cut the roots into chunks; place them in the oven and enjoy your delicious canna lilies.

canna lily leaves
canna lily leaves

If you live in climate, growing, zone 7 or warmer, your cannas can be grown outside year round.  In cooler climates the rhizome can be dug up and stored in a cool, damp environment.  Plant your canna lily in the spring by burying the rhizome 4-6 inches below the surface.

These over-sized gracious leaves and silky tall flowers make our front garden a tropical escape away from the arid Arizona desert.

the countdown continues with some unique plants ahead…

Old Man hairy Cactus – a cactus with white hair

There are over 1,300 species of cacti with many forms and textures.  Today I am highlighting one of my favorites called The Old Man Cactus, Cephalocereus senilis.  This hairy column cactus gets its name from the white strands that grow long side the yellowish spikes.

Old Man Cactus with his white hair

With all this white hair The Old Man Cactus is fittingly named.  There is a purpose to the hair on this popular cactus.  First of all it conceals the sharp thorns and second it gives  shade from the Arizona desert sun.

cephalocereus senilis hairy cactus
Cephalocereus senilis, Old Man Cactus

This old man is sitting comfortably in the xeriscape area of our AZ yard.  Cacti are the best drought & heat tolerant plants.  Caring for this white haired cactus is easy as long as it receives plenty of sun and is not over watered.  I placed the Old Man Cactus in soil that is well drained.

If your Old Man Cactus is not growing hair it may need more sun.  The sunlight stimulates the hair growth on these desert plants.

Keep an eye out for mealy bugs.  If your cactus is infested you will see a white cottony area. There is a species of mealy bug that attacks the roots of cacti.  If your cactus is sick and not growing take it out of its container and check the roots.  Insecticides work fine to eliminate the mealy bugs and white patches they create.

white hairy cactus
Old Man of The Andes, hairy cactus

Another hairy cactus species we have is the Old Man of the Andes, Cleistocactus trollii above.  The Old Man of the Andes or Old Man of the Mountain is doing nicely in a pot with direct sunlight.

round cactus with pink flower
old lady cactus, Mammillaria hahniana – hairy cactus

The above photo is The Old Lady Cactus, Mammillaria haniana, that is gracing the area by our mailbox.

Old Man Cactus hairy
Old Man Cactus – hairy cactus

The Old Man Cactus is native to central Mexico and is a columnar species of the family Cactaceae.

It may take 10-18 years for the Old Man Cactus to bloom with white, red, or yellow flowers.  This white haired cactus has personality and is a very popular potted plant.  If you have your old man cactus indoors place it in a area of good sunlight.

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.

Flowering Lantana Mound – Drought tolerant – Texas New Gold, Trailing Purple, Radiation, Yellow, Orange, Camara, Lantana Pictures

Lantana is the best drought resistant, heat resistant, desert flowering perennial.  Lets just say Lantana is perfect. With a genus of 150 species and numerous colors,  this perennial flowering plant in the verbena family, Verbenaceae, will certainly help create a perfect Arizona, Texas, Georgia, California garden that will attract butterflies!  Lantanta is one of the best choices for xeriscape yards.

New Gold and Texas Flame Lantana

This desert flowering perennial is native to tropical regions of Africa and here in the Americas. It comes in plants and shrubs commonly called Lantana and shrub verbenas. Some types of Lantana are considered invasive, the trailing plant spreads easily because the leaves are somewhat poisonous to most animals and critters leave Lantana alone.

Trailing Purple Lantana, Texas New Gold, Radiation, Yellow Verbenas

This is precisely why Lantana is a large part of my Sonoran desert garden. Not only is Lantana resistant to the extreme hot temperatures in Phoenix, Tucson, and Southern Arizona, but also drought tolerant and the small animals leave this verbena shrub alone!  Our dogs are not interested in the Lantana Plant, flowers or the Lantana poisonous leaves.

Lantana field where I shop

This photo above is a flowering Lantana ocean!  Periodically I shop in this strip mall only to find an enormous Lantana,  field of Red, Yellow, White, Trailing Purple, Texas New Gold, Confetti, Camara, Texas New Flame and more.  Honestly I drive out of my way so I can enjoy this colorful display.  This Lantana mound is truly a butterfly magnet.

Lantana Camara, in the verbena family, has sometimes been called red, yellow, or wild sage, even though it is in a completely different family than sage.  Camara colonizes new areas when its seeds are transported by birds. Once it reaches an area, L. camara spreads quickly. Camara grows so well, that efforts to eradicate it have completely failed. Lantana Camara is fire resistant, and quickly grows in burnt areas.

Trailing Purple, Trailing White and Texas New Gold Lantana Mound

Camara has become naturalized in tropical and warm regions worldwide.  Livestock foraging on the plant has led to widespread losses in the United States, South Africa, India, Mexico, and Australia.

Lantana Camara In a container or pot

In the photo above is my lantana camara that I’ve grown in a large pot – container.  The planter is a ceramic type which I do not recommend as it gets very hot in 100 – 110 degree weather. Most of my lantanas are growing in pots or containers.

Yellow, Texas New Gold Lantana in a Container

The bright yellow Lantana pictured above is the Texas New Gold I have growing in a pot.  The Lantana container sits nicely on the side of the pond and at night the solar lights give an amazing atmosphere!  A separate article is coming with my personal verbena plants, shrubs.

Orange and Yellow Lantana is called Radiation

TIDBITS:  Lantana plants are a perennial flowering plant with hollow stems.  Pruning tip for Lantana – careful NOT to over prune your Lantana because water can drip down into the hollow stems and rot the crown.

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.