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