Artemesia x ‘Powis Castle’ 'Powis Castle' Wormwood
2-4 ft. high x 4-6 ft. wide
Perfect foliage favorite. An adaptable evergreen perennial shrub with silver lacy foliage that forms a rounded mound. In low deserts, it performs best in afternoon shade with supplemental irrigation. Easy to maintain with periodic annual pruning or thinning to control size and shape. All Artemisia sp. require well-drained soils and avoid overhead watering to prevent issues with crown rot. Slow growing to start, with faster growth as root system develops.
Asclepias subulata Desert Milkweed
A vital vertical accent. Important nectar and host plants for numerous pollinators including Monarchs, this tough native perennial milkweed plant has narrow gray, mostly leafless stems. Cream colored waxy bloom clusters form on the ends of each stem from spring into summer. They occur in sandy soils or occasionally on alluvial desert plains and mixed scrub in far southern NV, AZ low deserts into CA and Mexico. They are extremely drought & heat tolerant. Excess moisture creates succulent growth that aphids cannot resist. Although stem tips can get covered by aphids, these pests are a cosmetic nuisance and do not harm the plant. For this reason, avoid using harmful insecticides to control the aphids that may end up harming Monarchs or other beneficial pollinators. If control is needed or desired, apply low to no impact insecticidal soap instead.
Asparagus densiflorus ‘Myers’ (syn. Asparagus meyeri) Foxtail Fern
Great color & texture. Dense, conical-shaped bright green leaves grow out from a central cluster to form a spiky-looking but soft mound. In the low desert foxtail ferns prefer morning sun with afternoon shade and regular irrigation. They are tougher plants than they look and tolerate high heat if they have regular deep watering, especially during summer. They require little to no maintenance, other than clipping off old or yellowed leaves periodically. They work well in containers or in-ground at entry points, as foundation plantings, mixed with other wide leafed tropical shrubs and offer striking silhouettes in raised beds.
Baileya multiradiata Desert Marigold
Reliable reoccurring color. These are true ephemerals living fast and furious to bloom then cast more seed to perpetuate their existence. Compact clumps of gray pubescent foliage sprout stems topped with bright yellow daisy-like blooms from spring into summer. Cut plants back completely as flowers fade. In well-drained soils Desert Marigold are quite persistent plants, although young plants can be tender to transplant, so manage them with care. These naturally occurring, tough low-water use plants are adaptable up to 5000 ft. but if mother plants freeze out, not to worry, spring weather will bring new seedlings. Complimentary flowering perennials for virtually all low desert landscape situations.
Dietes bicolor (Syn. Moraea bicolor) Bicolor Iris, Butterfly Flag, or African Iris
Long-blooming grassy green accent plants. Bicolor iris has long skinny, sword type leaves of rich green. Scapes form holding blooms above the foliage from spring to fall. Branched Scapes hold attractive buttery yellow, butterfly-like blooms with distinctive burgundy to black eye spots. Keep spent flower stalks removed to help perpetuate blooming. Tropical looking plants are well suited for mass plantings where an oasis feel is desired, such as around pools, backyard patios, or lush, shaded entryways. Good for average soils, but they do prefer well-draining soils. In the afternoon shade, they do not mind low desert heat.
Dietes iridioides (Syn. Dietes vegeta, Moraea iridioides) Fortnight Lily, African Iris
Bright white sentinel-like blooms. These are sturdy, rhizomatous perennials that form clumps of green, vertical sword-like leaves. They appreciate organically amended soils but tolerate average alkaline soils if drainage is good. In colder locations, plants should be grown in pots for blooming summer accent plants that can easily be brought in for winter. In low deserts, plants can acclimate to full sun, but they thrive in part sun locations where they have afternoon shade. Cylindrical, scapes or flower stalks form in spring and summer with distinctive Iris blooms rising well above the foliage. These are perfect oasis accent plants, filler around pool decks or water features, or use them for north or east facing entryways, borders or mixed perennial beds the need a care-free vertical pop.
Gazania sp. Gazania
Mounding to flat colorfully blooming groundcover perennials. There are many different selections of Gazanias. All are perennials or grown as tough summer annuals in colder zones. Along with flower color, some grow in clumping form up to 1 ft. tall and spread 1-2 ft. across. Others grow in a rhizomatic flat spreading habit, staying about 6 in. high, but can spread to 6 ft. or more. Selected forms can have gray pubescent foliage, while others are green and glossy. All leaf forms tend to be lance shaped but can vary by length. Gazanias are tolerant of low desert heat and bloom from spring to fall. All Gazania sp. require well-drained soils and are sensitive to planting too deep, otherwise they are care and problem free. Available flower colors are Yellow, Orange, and Red.
Hymenoxys acaulis (Syn. Tetraneuris acaulis) Angelita Daisy, Four Nerve Daisy
Cute mounding plant with yellow daisy blooms. Low, mounding and spreading from basal clumps, this high desert native plant is right at home in low desert landscapes. They do require well-draining soil. They also prefer regular supplemental irrigation initially to become established but less water when plants are mature. Too much water encourages rangy, vigorous growth that requires more maintenance. While they are in peak bloom from late winter to early spring, these plants bloom practically all year, which means removing spent flower stems will be the maintenance priority. Leaves are short, soft linear shape with slight pubescence and blooms are 1 in. wide pure bright yellow daisies. Plant in mass for big, showy flower displays, or in mixed perennial beds, containers, borders or singly for tight spaces to accent bold succulents.
Lavendula pinnata Fernleaf Lavender
Sweet herbal scented leaves & purple blooms. Small, rounded evergreen herbaceous to woody perennial shrubs typically grow 2 ft. x 2 ft. They must have well-drained soils and some moderate summer irrigation, but limited moisture during winter like most Mediterranean plants. Ferny, dissected short gray pubescent leaves have a sweet herbal fragrance, especially when crushed to release their oils. Likewise, the flowers that rise well above the foliage looking like lavender flags, are also sweetly fragranced. The stems are square. Deadheading spent flower stems is the only regular required maintenance. Avoid planting too deep as they are susceptible to crown rot and chelated iron or complete fertilizers with micronutrients can help prevent chlorosis symptoms. Use in containers on patios or poolside, for entryways where their fragrance can be appreciated, mixed in perennial beds or kitchen herb gardens.