Native Arizona Mesquite Trees – growing tips – Velvet mesquite trees, The Tree of Life

Honey and Velvet Mesquite Trees can take the extreme heat and the cold! This tree grows fast.  What is the most common tree of the Desert Southwest?  It is the Mesquite! Like many members of the Legume Family, mesquite trees restore nitrogen to the soil.

Mesquite Tree Arizona
Honey Mesquite Tree

There are 3 common species of NATIVE mesquite trees:  Screwbean Mesquite (Prosopis pubescens ),  Honey Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa), and Velvet Mesquite (Prosopis velutina).

Native Arizona Trees, Mesquite
Native Desert Tree – Honey Mesquite

These native trees are extremely drought tolerant. Honey Mesquites are more rounded with big, floppy, drooping branches.  The foliage is feathery and straight – paired with sharp spines on twigs.

yound mesquite tree
Arizona Native Mesquite Tree

This tree normally reaches 20–30 ft, but can reach as tall as 50 ft (15 m). The growth rate is medium.  Honey mesquite coppices  (it will make new growth from a root or stump if it is cut down), making permanent removal extremely hard.  If a single trunk is cut down the Honey Mesquite will replace it with a multiple trunk version.

Honey Mesquite Tree variety species
Tree with large needles, spikes in Arizona

The Honey Mesquite has pale, yellow, elongated spikes and bears straight, yellow seed bean pods. In this picture you can see how long and strong this mesquite’s spikes are. I’ve learned NOT to wear flip-flops when walking around our Honey Mesquite!

Caring for mesquite trees is a simple process after the tree has fully matured. Mesquite trees need a full day’s worth of direct sun light to grow. Make sure to plant your mesquite tree in a place where it will always have a lot of quality sun.

Good staking is crucial to the mesquite tree, especially in areas with severe summer storms, monsoon season, or high winds.

tree ties for young mesquite
Staking your mesquite trees

The shade from these native Arizona trees create a 10-15 degree cooler temperature!

 Mesquite tree for shade

 

The shortcoming of a Chilean or Honey Mesquite tree is wind damage. Proper staking and proper watering can help you avoid wind damage with your mesquite trees.

staking your tree
staking your honey mesquite tree helps prevent wind damage

Make your Mesquite trees “seek out” water and nutrients by careful arrangement of your irrigation emitters and scheduled DEEP irrigation. This will develop a more dispersed root system and reduces the risk of wind throw.

Pruning will keep your tree from becoming messy, while stimulating new growth on those branches that you pruned. The dead, diseased, broken or weak branches, drain the Mesquite tree’s energy.

Mesquite bean pods are rich in carbohydrates and have very low moisture content, making them an excellent source for harvesting, processing, and storage.  A variety of animals eat the seeds such as quail, dear, javelina, coyotes, squirrels and rats.

Historic records have indicated that almost every part of the mesquite tree has a use. The Pima Indians of southern Arizona referred to the mesquite as the TREE OF LIFE.

mesquite tree seeds bean pods
Mesquite tree leaves and bean pods 

During the inevitable droughts and deprivations of desert frontier days, the mesquite trees served up the primary food source for caravans and settlers.  Mesquite beans became manna from heaven.

Medical studies of mesquite trees and other desert foods, said that despite its sweetness, mesquite flour (made by grinding whole pods) is extremely effective in controlling blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

Mesquite trees have lateral roots that extend far beyond the canopies of the plants and tap-roots that penetrate well below the surface of the soil.  Some mesquites may live for more than two centuries;  according to U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.

(Prosopis Velutina) Velvet Mesquite is the most common of the North American varieties, it ranges from southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and most common to the Chihuahua and Sonoran deserts of Mexico.

Tree with ferny leaves and sharp thorns
Native Desert Trees, Velvet Mesquite Tree

Velvet Mesquite Trees are a deciduous plant that benefits by being able to retain moisture during the winter or exceptionally dry seasons better because water does not escape through the leaves.  These Mesquite trees have elongated bean pods that are sweet to taste when ripe ( reddish-yellow color).   This native tree has thorns with varying lengths even on the same branch.

Mesquite Trees
Velvet Mesquite Trees in Arizona

For the first year,  deeply water your mesquite tree every week or so until it has properly matured. Once your velvet mesquite tree has matured, it can survive with a little supplemental water in addition to natural rain. In case of droughts, do water your mesquite trees more often.

Velvet Mesquites hold the record for deepest root (160′); these tap-roots can tap into deep, underground water supplies that aren’t available to the average plant.

The seeds of mesquite trees need to be scarified (abraded in flash flood or digestive tract) to germinate. Coyotes, and other desert animals eat the bean pods regularly.

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Pruning Your Yucca Plant – Yuccas can be trimmed and shaped anytime

Like most plants, the best time for pruning a yucca is right before it goes into its growth period. This will be in early spring. While early spring is the ideal time, a yucca can be pruned anytime. Just make sure the yucca plant gets plenty of light while it is recovering.  Like all things about yucca plants, care and pruning is very easy. It may seem drastic, but I assure you that your yucca plant considers this to be a very normal thing.

arizona yucca desert cactus plant
Our Yucca is shaped and pruned at the bottom.
cutting and pruning cactus and yucca plants
garden shears and gloves

Wear gloves as you trim and shape your Yucca, otherwise you will get many cuts on your hands.  The pruning will be much easier if you have extra sharp garden shears.

cut your yucca desert plant
pruning your Yucca is easy

The yucca plant in the above picture was so large we could not walk to the front door.  Pruning your Yucca is a bit time consuming but is well worth it.   As I look  above at our Yucca I think it needs a little more trimmed off the top!

The difference between drought tolerant and drought resistant plants?

Define drought tolerant.  What is a drought resistant plant? Here is the difference between drought tolerant (true desert plant) and drought resistant (originated in semi-arid places).

A flower or plant that has naturally evolved to survive periods of drought with little water and has the ability to tolerate substantial dehydration of their tissues and organs is drought tolerant.  Xerophytes are the BEST drought tolerant plants, shrubs, trees, and cacti.

cactus plants use little water are heat tolerant
Drought tolerant Saguaro Cactus and Prickly Pear Cactus

Cacti and many plants survive on little water and make Xeriscape not only essential but pleasing to the eye. Derived from the Greek word “xeros”, meaning “dry” and combined with landscape, xeriscape means gardening with less than average water.

drought resistant landscape yard
flowering, hairy cactus with drought tolerant agave plants

Many xerophyte plants have specialized tissues for storing water, as in the stems of cacti and the leaves of succulents. Others have thin, narrow leaves, or even spines, for minimizing water loss.  Xerophyte leaves often have abundant stomata to maximize gas exchange during periods in which water is available, and the stomata are recessed in depressions, which are covered with fine hairs to help trap moisture in the air.

drought resistant tolerant bushes in yard design
xeriscape yard with XEROMORPHIC plants like cactus, yucca, ocotillo

Drought tolerant plants have adapted by making use of either C4 Carbon Fixation or CAM (crassulacean acid metabolism) a carbon fixation pathway that evolved in some plants as an adaptation to arid conditions.

xerophyte plants best drought resistant
A drought tolerant Joshua Tree and Yucca Cactus in this photo

In a plant using full CAM, the stomata, in the leaves, remain shut during the day to reduce the loss of water as vapor, but open at night to collect carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is stored and then used during photosynthesis, which is the process of capturing the suns energy.

what is drought tolerant and resistant plants
Saguaro cactus and Palo Verde Tree are well – adapted drought tolerant plants.

CAM is particularly good for arid conditions because CO2 can be absorbed at night, allowing the pores on the leaves to stay closed during the day and thus reducing water loss. A easy way to explain it is drought tolerant plants can slow down metabolism.

Blue agave cactus plant with spike leaves in desert
Lovely Agave titanota BLUE variety

High elasticity of the cytoplasm and the capacity to withstand compression of the cells during dehydration are characteristic of drought-tolerant plants. What is cytoplasm? An easy definition of cytoplasm is a gel-like casing, covering – containing all the contents of the cell’s organisms, except the nucleus. Most metabolic (chemical reactions) pathways occur in the cytoplasm.

ocotillo tall cactus for drought tolerant yard arizona
Ocotillo Cactus plant in the desert

Not to be confused with drought-tolerant plants, Drought Resistant plants are not true desert plants. Many have originated in semi-arid regions, the area around the Mediterranean, Latin America and sub-Sahara.

Here are pictures of drought resistant plants that are not native desert plants.

color ideas for your desert low water, garden
colors of flowering lantana drought resistant plants next to oleander bushes

Lantana

drought tolerant and heat resistant flowering plants of the desert
The New Gold Lantana along with Trailing Purple Lantana plants
drought tolerant flowering lantana plants
White, Red (Texas) and Gold Lantana drought resistant desert plants

Lantana, in the verbena family, is a highly attractive drought resistant flowering plant that originated in tropical regions of Africa and the Americas.

drought tolerant and heat resistant purple lavender plant
lavender shrub is drought resistant

Lavender

top best drought tolerant flowering plants
young lavender drought resistant plant

This plant has it all: Drought resistant, it looks great, it smells wonderful, and it’s as tough as nails (as long as it’s not too wet).  Lavender is in the mint family and originated in the Old World around the Canary Islands, Africa, India, and Asia.

best drought tolerant heat resistant desert plants
Yarrow, yellow flowering drought resistant plants

Yarrow

Not only does yarrow tolerate heat and drought like a champion, but this easy-growing perennial is also a great cut flower.  Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, originated in regions of Asia and Europe.

best drought tolerant heat resistant desert plants
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) drought resistant plants

There is a difference between drought resistant and drought tolerant plants. Knowing the difference can save you considerable heartache.

Drought Tolerant shrubs with Orange, Red and Yellow Flowers

The flowers on the Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise bushes are thriving in the sweltering heat.  Vivid energetic colors of this drought tolerant shrub are sure to catch the eye of any passer-by.

desert plant with red and orange flowers
drought tolerant flowering shrub in the desert

This is one of our favorite desert shrubs we recommend to people who want flowering plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), hardy, low care, and drought resistant.

arizona texas shrubs
orange flowering bushes can take the heat

With an abundance of fern-like leaves these delightful shrubs can add a tropical perspective to any desert landscape!

orange red yellow flowering shrubs
Mexican and Red Bird of Paradise bushes

Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise, Caesalpinia pulcherrima , should be in late winter or early spring. Use a sharp pair of garden shears.  Our Bird of Paradise bushes are pruned about 16 inches from ground level.

Phoenix Tucson bushes shrubs flowers
Pride of Barbados, bushes with red orange flowers

Caesalpinia gilliesii, Yellow Bird of Paradise or sometimes called “Desert Bird of Paradise” is a shrub that has been naturalized in Texas.

bushes with long red string things
Yellow Bird of Paradise Flowering Bush

The signature long red stamens adorn the clusters of charming yellow flowers. Originally from Argentina, this Yellow Bird of Paradise upright shrub is very fast growing.

varieties of bird of paradise plants
long red stamen on Yellow Bird of Paradise plants

This long-lived, drought tolerant plant is very durable along with cold and heat tolerant.  Exposure to full sun is best!  All parts of the bird of paradise plants are toxic.  Yellow Bird of Paradise can grow to the height of 10 ft.

bushes shrubs with bean pods
Yellow Bird of Paradise

Plant your Bird of Paradise in full sun locations.  These bushes do fine in any well-drained soil including rocky, native soils.

In the Spring, prune to remove dead or damaged stems.  In the summer water your Yellow Bird of Paradise every week.  Water it deeply to stimulate a long taproot.  Once established the Yellow Bird of Paradise will need less water.

Caesalpinia gilliesii, yellow bird of paradise

These desert favorites are easy to find, inexpensive, and provide exciting color over and over throughout the year.  All Bird of Paradise plants are winners for your Arizona or desert landscape!

Red Bird of Paradise, red, orange and yellow flowers

The Red Bird of Paradise is a fast grower, and will get large!  It is hardy and does well in any soil; but, the better drainage you have the healthier the plant will be.

Texas bushes with orange red flowers
Red bird of paradise shrubs grow large

Bird of Paradise plants look bare during the winter but they always come back strong and healthy! The seeds and bean pods are poisonous so be careful your children and pets don’t eat them.

heat tolerant bushes with red flowers
Bushes with orange and red flowers

Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy and drought tolerant once the taproot is established.  With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.

Texas bushes with orange flowers
Red Bird of Paradise is also Pride of Barbados Bush
bushes with red orange yellow flowers
Arizona red flowering desert shrubs

Many people refer to this red and orange desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The actual Mexican Bird of Paradise has all yellow flowers and is larger.

yellow flowering bush heat drought tolerant
desert shrub with yellow flowers and round leaves

Being native to Mexico, Caesalpinia Mexicana  is the real Mexican Bird of Paradise.  It is larger with ROUND leaves and can be pruned into a small tree.

Mexican Bird of Paradise bush
round leaves and yellow flowers of the Caesalpinia mexicana

Bean pods on bushes with orange, yellow and red flowers – Growing tips

Using bean pods to grow your bird of paradise plants is uncomplicated and well worth the effort.

Caesalpinia pulcherrima, Red Bird of Paradise, is a species of flowering plant in the Fabaceae, pea family.

bird of paradise plants with bean pods
common desert bush with orange and red flowers

Other common names are Poinciana, Peacock Flower, Mexican Bird of Paradise, Dwarf Poinciana, Pride of Barbados, and flamboyan-de-jardin.

arizona bushes with red orange flowers fern leaves
Red Bird of Paradise drought tolerant shrubs

This is especially true for the Red Bird of Paradise bushes, genus Caesalpina,  along the roads in Tucson and Phoenix, also common in TX, Mexico and CA.

Red Bird of Paradise plants and shrubs
beautiful bushes with orange red flowers in the desert

This drought tolerant plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.

Are the Bird of Paradise Bean Pods edible?  NO, all Bird of Paradise plants and bushes are poisonous if ingested.

desert bush with red flowers and bean pods
bean pods on caesalpinia pulcherrima

Bean Pods on the Bird of Paradise bushes and shrubs need to turn brown before you can germinate the seeds.  The green bean pods pictured above and below are too young and need more time to dry on the desert plant.

desert bush with yellow flowers and bean pods
Yellow Bird of Paradise bush with bean pods

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.

red bird of paradise

PLANT AND GROW – How to grow bird of paradise plants, bushes, shrubs from seeds.

To germinate the seeds of your bird of paradise perennial plant first step is to score the hard outer coating.  I use sandpaper to lightly scrape the seeds then soak them in warm water for 24-48 hours.  They will germinate quickly like most seeds in the bean, Legume family, do.

To grow your Red Bird of Paradise, plant the soaked seed in peat pots.  Cover the seeds lightly with damp vermiculite or a good soil.

best way to grow seeds in peat pots
germinated seedling of bird of paradise bush

You should have bird of paradise seedlings in a few days to a week depending on how hard the outer coat of the seeds are.

peat pots
vermiculite

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 Mexican, Yellow or 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.

arizona orange red yellow flowers desert shrub
large flowering red bird of paradise desert bush

The Red Bird of Paradise is a deciduous (loses its leaves) shrub that thrives in  full sun and has bright red and orange flowers that grow on long, thin stalks. The leaves are lacy,  ferny-looking.

phoenix desert bushes red orange yellow flowers
grow Bird of Paradise shrubs from bean pods

This is an extraordinarily heat resistant, drought tolerant flowering bush that is a perfect addition to any yard.  The Red Bird of Paradise is a fairly fast grower, and can get large, so periodic trimming is suggested. See the photo above of large flowering bushes commonly seen along the streets in Tucson and Phoenix Arizona along with Texas and California.

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

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.

Choosing plants with colors, flowers, drought tolerant, heat resistant – white purple red orange yellow bushes

Adding splendid color and shapes to your low maintenance garden – Lets start with white and purple flowering shrubs.  TEXAS SAGES, Leucophyllums, are among the most reliable and fool-proof of the low water use plants available in Arizona!

White and Purple Texas Sage

Texas sage bushes have silvery gray leaves and purple or white flowers that bloom from summer through autumn. These sage plants are relatively carefree after they are planted, but good sunlight and proper drainage are essential to the Texas Sages success.

sage with prickley pear cactus

The purple and white flowers look amazing next to a prickley pear cactus.  In areas with poor drainage or with high average rainfalls, plant Texas sage brushes in raised beds.

Purple sage and oleander

The picture above has some of the best ideas for choosing plants with colors and different shapes that can be used in xeriscape or any low care, heat resistant yard.  Prickley Pear cactus are unique in gardens and add an architectural flare.

In the photo background is a Red Oleander, Nerium oleander, bush.  Oleanders make a popular divider or hedge, and can even be trained into a tree.

Of course we must mention the ever so popular Purple Texas Sage, also called Texas Ranger Plant.  The White flowering species of Texas Sage is called White Cloud and is a heavenly white bush that blooms commonly throughout Arizona and adds dazzling color to any garden.

white cloud texas sage

In the above photo you will see an Ocotillo Cactus standing tall behind the white flowering bush.  This White Cloud Texas Sage shrub could be trimmed; therefore creating a contrast between the magnificent Ocotillo cactus and the white blooms.

purple sage and new gold lantana

Texas New Gold Lantana and Purple Texas Sage are considered two of the best drought tolerant, easy care, heat resistant, flowering desert plants in Arizona, California, etc…  The yellow lantana mound looks dazzling next to a well pruned purple sage shrub.

add cacti to any flowering bush

Pictured above is part of the xeriscape area of our yard.  Cacti come in a variety of shapes and colors.  Some species of cactus have glorious flowers that bloom in the summer.  Grow a flowering desert plant, bush next to a cactus to create a beautiful desert garden.  The Bougainvillea shrub looks amazing next to a barrel cactus in the picture below.

bougainvillea and barrel cactus

 If desertscape makes you think of sparse, ugly gardens and cacti, think again!  Desert gardens can be gorgeous and cascading with color; all one needs is a little imagination

Red Bird of Paradise

Red Bird of Paradise plant is the best choice for orange, red and yellow flowering bushes.  Add a Saguaro cactus next to your desert shrub to create an unique design.

Pictured below is a common Arizona Wildflower called White Stem Paper Flower.  During Arizona Monsoon, (rainy season) the wild flowers paint the desert and many desert gardens.

white stem paper flower

Paint your own desert; the choices are endless!

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.

The Texas Ranger Sage shrub – bushes with purple or white flowers

What is that blooming sage shrub or plant that is overflowing with purple flowers in the AZ desert? Humidity from Monsoon season brings a purple explosion for the Arizona Desert. The Texas Sage, Texas Ranger Plants are in full bloom! Take a look at the gorgeous purple sage pictures.

Picture of The Texas Ranger Plant. In Arizona it is commonly called Purple Texas Sage.

One of the best drought tolerant, heat resistant desert plants is the Purple Texas Sage bush / shrub (Texas Ranger Plant). Texas Sage is mostly evergreen (meaning it keeps its leaves), drought resistant, perennial, cold resistant, hard to kill and fits well in a low maintenance xeriscape garden.  These blooming desert plants thrive in the hot, humid monsoon season of Arizona.

Flowering Texas Ranger Shrub (Texas Sage Bush) in our yard. Gorgeous Purple!

Because the showy purple flower display coincides with high humidity, Texas Purple Sage is sometimes nicknamed a barometer plant.

Tucson bushes with purple flowers
Purple flowering bushes in the desert

Mostly you will hear this Arizona desert plant referred to as Texas Sage.  Actually it is not a true sage.  Texas Ranger Shrubs are related to penstemons and snap dragons.  This desert bush is native to Mexico and Texas.

Chihuahuan SageLeucophyllum laevigatum

The picture above is a variety of desert Sage bushes, called Chihuahuan Sage, Leucophyllum laevigatum. All of our sage bushes are blooming with brilliant purple flowers and lots of bees. These desert bushes are perfect for bees.

Arizona bush with purple flowers
Purple Sage Shrub Plant

I could even say that the Texas Ranger Shrub is the best plant to attract bees!  We have so many bees in our purple shrubs that you can hear the buzzing from across the yard. Texas Ranger plants and all the different varieties of sage would be a great benefit to bee hives.

Purple Sage bush, Chihuahuan Sage

Our Chihuahuan Sage, more commonly called Texas Purple Sage, is along the back of our yard where it receives full sun.  The hotter it gets the more this drought tolerant flowering shrub loves it!

The Chihuahuan variety of sage has an informal, relaxed growth habit. You can see in the pictures that I missed this seasons pruning. The best time to prune your Sage bush is in the spring because the summer desert heat brings a flush of new growth.

Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season. Once your Arizona Desert bush establishes a deep root system you can reduce the water.  Feed your Texas Sage with a general purpose fertilizer before the new growth in spring.

Our Purple Sage Bush alongside a Red Fairy Duster blooming desert plant

It is amazing to wake up and see your desert yard explode with purple flowers and the loud symphony of buzzing bees.  One of the best parts of Monsoon season is the blooming desert plants with our Chihuahuan Sage, Texas Purple Sage, Texas Ranger Plant, whatever you choose to call it, being at the top of our favorites list.

purple sage
Purple Texas Ranger Plant

To grow your sage bush – plant them in full sun with lots of room to grow.  If you prune your Purple Sage, do it in the spring.  They prefer well-drained soils and will rot if given too much water.  There are many different varieties of Texas Ranger Plants (Leucophyllum frutescens), Texas Sage, Sage bushes. Your desert landscaping will look beautiful with these fragrant lavender flowers.

Texas Ranger plant
purple flowering shrubs

In the photo below I included a picture of our Red Fairy Duster plant. Fairy Duster, Calliandra,  is an evergreen, desert shrub that I recommend for people who want plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), low maintenance, hardy, drought tolerant, and provides lovely color next to your sage bush.

White Cloud Texas Tanger Plant
White flowering Texas Sage bush
Purple Sage and Fairy Duster, blooming Arizona Desert plants

Once these desert plants bloom, get your camera and take pictures. The sage flowers do not last long especially if an AZ monsoon rain comes.

Phoenix desert plants purple
Texas Sage
Texas Ranger Shrub
Purple flowering sage bush

   

Can you grow Bougainvillea in pots? Growing Mandevilla Vines, Dipladenia in Containers

Why doesn’t my bougainvillea bloom?  Bougainvilleas like their roots to be crowded in a pot. If planted in the ground, the Bougainvillea may not bloom as much. If you want more color in your garden, grow your Bougainvillea in containers!  Its vivid color is formed in the three bracts that surround the little white flower.

mandevilla in a container
Bougainvillea vine in a pot

Bougainvillea does well growing on a trellis.  The 2 vines in the picture are a Bougainvillea vine in a pot next to the Mandevilla Vine growing in another container. I trained both vines to continue growing up the trellis.

do bougainvilleas grow in containers
Bougainvillea growing up the trellis

The pictures of these plants growing on our front porch gives you and idea of how happy the Mandevilla Plant is in the large container and how well the Bougainvillea Bush does in a pot.

Bougainvillea flowering bush shrub
Growing Bougainvillea in large pots

To grow your flowering Bougainvillea shrub/vine choose a very sunny place. Be sure your pots have good holes in the bottom, so you will have good drainage. Fertilize with Hibiscus food as it has more potash than many other fertilizers. Be sure to measure exactly the amount of food according to the size of your pot. Bougainvillea comes from a hot humid climate, and they love the heat!

Be sure the dirt in the pot feels dry before you water your bougainvillea. Water large pots until water runs out the drainage holes in the bottom. There are exceptions to watering and caring for your Bougainvillea. Here in the southern Arizona desert we have had some temperatures above 110 degrees F. When I saw any of our plants wilting, including the Bougainvillea plant and Mandevilla vine I watered them. Being very careful not to get water on the leaves so they do not get burned from the Sun!

The Bougainvillea and Mandevilla vines

The Bougainvillea is climbing up the bamboo sticks to the trellis and combining with the Mandevilla vine.

If you want your Bougainvillea to grow up and not out you must trim/prune the stems that grow outwards. Keep them short around the bottom.

I found that the plants we cut back are growing straight up the bamboo garden stakes, look at the picture of our bougainvillea. The Bougainvilleas I do not prune, have many leaves but fewer blooms, color.

During this winter, both the Mandevilla bush/vine and the drought tolerant shrub, Bougainvillea, did ok. The winter temperatures dropped to the mid 30’s.  I removed all the dead leaves.

mandevilla in containers
bougainvillea and mandevilla vines

Bougainvillea is drought resistant, I do not call it drought tolerant because it is not a desert native plant. Bougainvillea are native to South America. This flowering bush or is heat resistant to the extreme. Probably the best heat resistant desert plant is the Bougainvillea.  Caring for and growing a Bougainvillea takes more effort but it is worth it. Note how short I prune the bottom branches of the Bougainvillea in the front pot.

Growing a Mandevilla – traditionally it is called a Dipladenia, but they are different in how they grow and look. For basic purposes they are vines with the Dipladenia growing better as a shrub or bush and being planted in a container or does well as a hanging plant. The Mandevilla is a climbing vine and does well twining and growing on a trellis.

Mandevilla growing up a trellis
Mandevilla, dipladenia vines in containers

Our Mandevilla Vine prefers part shade. It receives bright light but is also partially protected from rain and the Arizona Monsoon season. It is NOT drought tolerant or drought resistant. But the Mandevilla plant is HEAT RESISTANT. Our Mandevilla is doing incredible and growing well in the pot. Please see the attached photos.

mandevilla growing in a pot
In this picture is a Mandevilla Vine growing on a trellis.

It has bloomed continually most of the year. As far as pruning the Mandevilla Plant. I remove the Mandevilla yellow leaves, and trim a few branches that may have died but that is about it. This Mandevilla vine, bush, plant takes very little pruning. Although it is NOT drought tolerant, it doesn’t seem to have any problems with the desert heat as long as I water it every day. If your Mandevilla vine/bush can be planted in part shade… I would recommend this tropical flowering bush for any garden, from planting in Florida to growing in Texas, Arizona and California.

In this picture, we took 4 large trellises bending the top 2 to form the arch. As the Mandevilla Plant grew I used garden tape and ties to gently connect it to the trellis. The Mandevilla vines grow back and forth along the top of  the trellis giving our desert yard a tropical, lush look.  Our trellises were purchased from Home Depot.  http://www.homedepot.com/

Our Chilean Mesquite Tree provides shade for the mandevilla.

Mandevilla is a genus of plants belonging to the Dogbane (attributed to its toxicity) family. Native to South America. It has about 100 species, mostly tropical and subtropical flowering vines (any plant with a growth habit of climbing, stems or runners).

The Mandevilla flowers come in a variety of colors, including white, pink, yellow, and red. The Hummingbirds and butterflies visit our Mandevilla often.  It is a pollen yielding plant that is fast growing and high flowering. In conclusion, Mandevilla is easy to care for as long as it gets watered regularly, has a trellis to climb on, is in part shade and protected from winds and rain.

Oleanders Are Low Maintenance

The plant has a leaf like that of the almond tree, but smaller, and our flower is light pink. Oleander grows well in warm subtropical regions, and thrives here in Arizona. It is widely used in landscapes, in parks, and along roadsides. The Oleander is drought resistant, hardy and easy to care for.  You can see it along freeways and medians in California, Texas and other mild-winter states in the Continental United States because it is upright in habit and easily maintained. Its toxicity renders it deer-resistant. The flowers are showy and compliment our yard! We have not shown any allergies to Oleanders but I know many people who are allergic.

Oleanders come in many colors including red, purple, pink, and orange; white and a variety of pinks are the most common. Young plants grow best in spaces where they do not have to compete with other plants for nutrients. We have 3 small Oleanders that will grow very big eventually providing some shade in the garden during the hot summer days.

 

Oleander is commonly grown all over and is one of the most poisonous plants including all its parts.