Nevada Public Radio Listen Live

"Weekend Edition"
Facebook Twitter Follow Nevada Public Radio

Support Nevada Public Radio
November 25, 2008
Podcasts

DESERT BLOOM: Not Yellow

Listen

If you don't like yellow when it comes to your garden, Dr. Angela O'Callaghan suggests a few alternatives.

Desert flowers come in so many colors and make terrific accents against a bright gold background. Below is a collection of mostly non-yellow desert plants and trees. You can find colors most of the year in a landscape that uses very little water.

CACTUS

Claret CupEchinocereus triglochidiatus, called the strawberry hedgehog, produces a pink-magenta cup of many petals, which gives its other common name, claret cup. Flowers bloom April through June, from low to higher elevations. This is the first cactus to bloom in the spring.

Beaver TailThe flat pads of beaver tail cactus, or Opuntia basilaris,have a grey-purple hue and its flowers are deep pink. Both the claret cup and the beaver tail cactus produce all of its blossoms at once, which results in a bright deep pink bouquet (albiet one that you cannot handle without protection).

OTHER DESERT PLANTS

Joshua treeThe Joshua tree, a member of the agave family the same family where you find the blue agave stands watch over our wild lands. They are foreign to this regions, but the ones that do well in this area have lovely blossoms. When Joshuas and other native yuccas are in bloom, they produce dense clusters of white with magenta highlights.

Joshua treeRed yuccas, while they're not native, are good dry land plants with deep throated red flowers that are hummingbird magnets. This plant is a mid-summer bloomer and is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds. This drought-tolerant plant is suitable for xeriscaping.

Aloe veraAloe vera is another red-flowered member of the family. It does well here, although it will be damaged when temperatures drop below freezing. Fortunately, as long as the plant has a well-developed root system, it will revive.

SHRUBS

Apache plumeThe Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) is a member of the rose family. Its white flowers look like wild rose, but its seed plumes make the plant appear to be surrounded by a rose colored cloud. This plant's common name is derived from the fact that it resembles Apache war bonnets. Native peoples used their stems to make brooms and arrow shafts.

Desert Purple SageSalvias are often excellent dry landscape plants. The desert purple sage (Salvia dorrii) is one whose flowers are indeed purple. It is a western native gem that puts on its dazzling display in late spring. It is a fast growing, heavy bloomer best suited to the hottest, most challenging planting sites.

Autumn SageAutumn sage (Salvia greggii) is red-flowered (although occasionally white). Culturally undemanding, this plant tolerates a wide range of soils requiring only that they be quick draining. Just a bit of extra water during dry spells encourages more flowers.

Texas RangerNearly everyone is familiar with Texas Ranger and the froth of small purple blossoms it produces throughout the summer and fall. Sometimes the flowers are so numerous that the foliage is almost hidden. Several butterflies and bees are attracted by the flowers.

TREES

Most desert trees can be either a tree or a shrub, depending on how they're pruned. By the way, don't prune off all the side branches of the trunk if you're trying to get one of these plants to develop into a tree. The side branches help the trunk to become thicker faster.

Desert WillowThe desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) which can be a shrub or a tree, produces a fabulous show of pink and lavender flowers, reminiscent of small orchids. Hummingbirds love it.

Texas OliveTexas Olive, (Cordia boissieri) has spectacular white flowers and produces big green berries in the fall. The attractive blooms continue aggressively from late winter through mid to late summer. The rest of the year, the Texas Olive flowers sporadically.

Feathery CassiaIt's possible to have a glorious desert palette with no yellow, but with so many lovely golden flowered desert plants, it'd be a shame to eliminate them entirely. Who could possibly not appreciate the yellow blossoms on the feathery cassia (Cassia artemisioides)? These can be planted in pots or directly in the garden. The original Feathery Cassia is used as symbol in different cultures at some festivals and holidays.

MesquiteWe also cannot leave out the the yellow fuzzy flowers of one of the many mesquites (Prosopis) that has evolved around here. They are extremely adaptable and tolerant to a wide range of growing conditions. They adjust to little or abundant water, and will survive during times of drought by slowing down their growth.

See discussion rules.

Archives

NormOct 7, 2014 | Second Spring
The call it a "second spring" Norm Schilling has some plan ideas to make Fall colorful in your yard. He has a checklist of plants looking their best, because now is the time to plant in Southern Nevada.

AngelaSep 30, 2014 | Fountain Grass
A weed by any other name is still a weed even if it doesn't look like one. If only everything in our gardens thrived as well as weeds. Here is Angela O'Callaghan.

NormSep 15, 2014 | Desert Heat
Norm describes a significant casualty of the desert heat. There's going to be a big gap in Norm's Yard and a lesson on the reality of our desert landscape.

AngelaAug 12, 2014 | Organic Pesticides
Choosing a method for ridding your garden of an unwanted guest, be it bug or weed, is not always a simple choice. But the more you know, the better it goes. Here's Angela O'Callaghan

NormJul 28, 2014 | Lose that Lawn
We know, it's a desert out there including every place there's a lawn. Norm Schilling reminds us all the ways he wants you to consider losing the lawn... permanently.

AngelaJul 14, 2014 | Protect Fruit Trees from Birds
If you put a good deal of care into growing fruit trees, there are likely some birds who will take advantage of your effort. Here's Angela O'Callaghan.

NormJul 10, 2014 | Palm Care, Part 2
To keep, or not to keep. Norm Schilling ponders his palm trees, on this edition of Desert Bloom.

NormJun 10, 2014 | Palm Care
Norm Schilling has mixed feelings about how we use Palms in our yards. Full grown palm trees transplanted into the entry way of a mall is a common sight that tells Southern Nevadan's "something" is nearly open for business. He reminds us that those palms come with challenges.

AngelaJun 3, 2014 | Hot Weather Plants
As temperatures across the Valley begin to climb, you might be wondering what will survive in your garden in the months ahead and what probably won't. There are some 'sweet' options. Here's Angela O'Callaghan

NormMay 20, 2014 | Desert Color
Norm Schilling just got back from Belize and has some ideas for lush leaves in your desert yard. He reflects on some well suited plants to provide color and variety in this edition of Desert Bloom.

AngelaMay 6, 2014 | Emerald Ash Borer
Raising a healthy shade tree in the Mojave is not always easy. And if one particular insect makes its way here, it could get even harder. Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

NormApr 22, 2014 | The Right Plants
Our current warm spell gives the impression that some plants can thrive when they aren't really suited to our desert. Norm Schilling has some examples.

NormMar 24, 2014 | Spring Garden Party
Spring is here and the garden is blooming . . . so invite some friends to enjoy the rewards of gardening!

AngelaMar 10, 2014 | Lady Banks
If you love roses, but don't care for thorns, you may want to call on 'Lady Banks.' Here's Angela O'Callaghan with Desert Bloom.

NormFeb 26, 2014 | Signs of Spring
It may be February, but if you are paying attention, signs of Spring are visible. Dwarf peach and Mexican plum trees are in bloom. Vibrant Red Spraxis can be seen among the falling Almond blossom. Watch gardening expert Norm Schilling transplant an offshoot. Check out the slide show of photos taken from his backyard.

AngelaFeb 18, 2014 | Mulch is for Winter
Rewards for using mulch in your landscape can be had year-round. Mulch is about mulch more than just "good looks" according to Angela O' Callaghan. In any climate, and certainly in a desert, mulch is an ecologically sound way to conserve our limited soil moisture and to control weeds.

NormFeb 4, 2014 | Investing for Spring
Temperatures are scheduled to stay cool this week, but Norm Schilling finds his yard is ready for Spring. He reflects on techniques to keep older trees healthy even as the surrounding yard may change. Bigger, older trees may need more water.

AngelaJan 13, 2014 | Freezing Temps
If your garden looks like it's been zapped by Jack Frost, there's still a chance that all is not lost. Delicate desert plants can suffer chill damage even when the temperature stays above freezing. Well-established plants should survive.

NormDec 31, 2013 | Leave the Leaves
Just because most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, it doesn't mean you have to rake them all up. Norm Schilling says it's better to use the leaves as mulch to protect the plants and make rich soil. Some woody plants can be pruned now, while others should wait another month or two.

AngelaDec 13, 2013 | Winter Greens
It is the season to enjoy some winter gardening. In Southern Nevada, a cold-snap does not have to mean that your garden is done for. Angela O'Callaghan gives a few cold facts.

© 2014 NEVADA PUBLIC RADIO   
Web hosting facilities provided by Switch.