Top 100 Desert Plants

dessert willowHere is a list of 100 of my favorite desert plants. This doesn’t mean there aren’t other desert plants you can enjoy and do well in desert, but these seem to be the most fun to grow in desert gardens. They are in no particular order. This list took me over a week to line up, so I hope you enjoy!

1. Oleander (Nerium oleander) – Few things in the desert hold up to our insanely hot summers like the good old oleander. These guys grow quickly, withstand reflective heat, dry conditions, horrific soil and just about anything you can throw at it. They come in dwarf varieties in colors like pink, red and white. If you look around you might find double flower varieties as well, which looks almost like a carnation. We carry tons of oleander seeds and they germinate very easily.

2. Bismark Palmetto – This lovely palm is sure to stand out in any desert landscape. It has a gorgeous silvery-blue color with a deep mahogany colored trunk. The palm is drought tolerant once established, fast-growing and can get quite large. It looks amazing at night when lit up from the ground. These palms are hard to find at nurseries and big box stores. Moon Valley Nursery tends to carry them. They are pricey there. There are also a few shops online that carry them as well, a quick search will pull them up. I hope to be carrying palmetto seeds within the next few years once my host palms reach maturity.

3. Saguaro – A gentle giant that stands up to incredible climate conditions, poor soil and desert critters. The edible fruit matures in the summer and is enjoyed by birds and other desert dwellers.

4. California Fan Palm

5. Canary Island Date Palm

6. Queen Palm

7. Texas Olive

8. Desert Willow

9. Golden Barrel

10. Ocotillo

11. Pygmy Date Palm

12. Pindo Palm

13. Ficus

14. Orange Tree

15. Hesperaloe

16. Lantana

17. Bougainvillea

18. Lemon Tree

19. Lime Tree

20. Emu Bush

21. Mexican Bird of Paradise

22. Hardenbergia

23. Ponytail Palm

24. Desert Spoon

25. Geranium

26. Baja Fairy Duster

27. Medicinal Aloe

28. Prickly Pear Cactus

29. Grapefruit Tree

30. Palo Brea

31. Palo Verde

32. Chilean Mesquite

33. Red Barrel Cactus

34. Mexican Fence Post Cactus

35. Totem Pole Cactus

36. Penstemon

37. Eucalyptus

38. Foxtail Agave (Agave attenuata)

39. Jacaranda

40. Texas Mountain Laurel

41. Joshua Tree

42. Century Plant (Agave americana)

43. Soaptree Yucca

44. Teddybear Cholla

45. Ice Plant

46. Lady Banks Rose

47. Date Palm

48. Ironwood

49. Hibiscus

50. Golden Torch Cactus

51. Red Bird of Paradise

52. Plumeria

53. Guava

54. Avocado

55. Basil

56. Strawberry Hedgehog Cactus

57. Peruvian Apple Cactus

58. Salvia

59. Bottlebrush

60. Roses

61. Chuparosa

62. Old Man Cactus

63. Cardon

64. Senita

65. Fire Sticks

66. Senegal Date Palm

67. Soft Tip Yucca

68. Elephant Bush (Portulacarea afra)

69. Potato Bush

70. Mexican Heather

71. Chaste Tree (Vitex agnes castus)

72. California Poppy

73. Vinca

74. Pomegranate

75. Lady Slipper

76. Mediterranean Fan Palm

77. Trichocereus grandiflorus

78. Fishhook Barrel Cactus

79. Lavender

80. Torch Glow

81. Triangle Leaf Bursage

82. Natal Plum

83. Eve’s Needle Cactus

84. Candelabra Cactus

85. Dragon’s Blood Tree

86. Chainfruit Cholla

87. Pink Fairy Duster

88. Crape Myrtle

89. Bookleaf Mallee

90. Sago Palm

91. Red Gum Tree

92. Arizona Ash

93. Jojoba

94. Octopus Agave

95. Desert Agave

96. Desert Ruellia

97. Baja Ruellia

98. Almond Tree

99. Peach Tree

100. Rosemary

Should You Add Artificial Grass To Your Desert Landscape?

artificial grassOnly a decade ago the idea of putting ‘artificial turf’ in your backyard was almost silly. You pictured football field style crunch green carpet, which stunk when it got wet and bubbled up all the time. Today, fake grass is all the rage and I love it. Here is a brief list of why artificial grass is something to definitely consider:

1. It’s not as costly to get the ‘good stuff’ as it once was.

2. Artificial grass today actually looks like real grass, only better. Every blade is perfect.

3. There’s no messy smell. The synthetic products out there have breathable pores, allowing water to flow and drain. No piles of standing water.

4. You can give away your lawn mower. Save the environment by saving gasoline, fumes and noise pollution.

5. Zero maintenance. Your new lawn never needs work! No more seeding, raking, cutting, weeding and trimming.

6. Your dogs and kids will love it. After a hard day at play, they will be mud free, saving you time and effort!

7. Cut down on scorpions. Watered lawns attract insects. Mosquitoes love standing, pounding water. So do crickets. If you install fake grass the crickets won’t enjoy hanging out there. No crickets means less scorpions, as crickets are a delicacy for those scary little critters. We all love less scorpions!

8. Your town might give you money to rip out your old grass. Many municipalities offer water conservation rebates when you pull out water-hungry real grass and add artificial turf. Check with your area for full details. It could save you hundreds!

9. Cut back on your water bill. No more constant watering and lawn water run off.

10. It looks great. You’ll have maintenance-free, mud-free, gorgeous green grass every single day and the new products out there last 10, 15 or even 20+ years without fading.

Conserve water, make your yard beautiful and have more time to enjoy the outdoors by installing artificial grass!

How to Get Rid of Oleander Aphids

oleander-aphidsIt’s that time of year again, the oleanders that make up much of the desert landscape are starting to grow and bud, but some of you are noticing something odd: little, yellow dots on the leaves, buds and pods. These yellow dots are bugs, aphids actually. The oleander aphid is typically found in warm climates like Arizona, California and Florida. They are a golden yellow with tiny black legs and some have wings. Entire colonies can be found on an oleander plant, which tends to really creep out some newcomers to the region!

Rather than overwhelm you with scientific jargon about mating habits and genetic disposition I’ll let you in on the important stuff:

- Oleander aphids can also be found on citrus and milkweeds.
– The aphids eat the sap from the host plant and oleanders have lots of it. The sap is extremely poisonous to humans and pets (including horses) so be careful when handling clippings, seeds and flowers.
– For the most part, the damage these little pests create is aesthetic, but large colonies can stunt the plant’s growth in spots. It is best to try to get rid of the colonies as you see them.

aphis_neriiOleander aphids love the tender new shoots, so start there first for getting rid of them. Insecticidal soaps are effective but if you prefer something more natural, just a bit of dish soap and water in a spray bottle should do the trick. Spray down the infected plant generously and leave the soapy water on for an hour. Spray it off with a strong blast from your hose. Check back in a few days and if there are still aphids, repeat the process. In my own yard 80% of the aphids are gone by the first process and all are eliminated by the second spray a week later.

More Resources on How to Get Rid of Oleander Aphids:

How to Get Rid of Oleander Aphids

Oleander Aphid Control

Summer Desert Vegetable Garden

desert vegetable farmThere is still time to plant your organic desert vegetable garden

As the temperatures really start to heat up and our season changes from ‘pretty warm’ to ‘scorching hot’ you might think you missed the growing season for your veggie garden. That’s not really the case. You can still plant cucumber, pumpkin (will be ready in the fall), eggplant, melons and herbs. As I type this in mid August I have a very healthy raised garden that’s doing quite well. Herbs such as basil, oregano, sage and rosemary are still as healthy as ever, growing like crazy in full sun. The important thing is to keep your bed hydrated. Many of these plants can tolerate the heat if the roots are kept cool.

Tomatoes are a bit fickle in super heat but all hope is not lost. Few months ago I planted few tomato plants and today they are 4 feet wide by 4 feet tall, loaded with blooms and fruits. Birds and insects are going to love those tomatoes so make sure you protect them, either by planting things that critters hate nearby or putting up a fence made of mesh or wire. Chicken wire works well. Again, remember to hydrate!desert vegetable garden

One of the most impressive specimen growing in the summer desert season are sunflowers. There are dozens of varieties and they perform incredibly in our strong desert sun. The sunflower seeds attract birds which in turn helps the rest of your garden. Birds eat many of the insects that partner up to destroy crops and flowers.

Grab a few survival seeds or tiny plants and give summer gardening in the desert a try. With ample water and afternoon shade (if possible although not mandatory) you will be pretty surprised by the results!

More Resources To Buy Vegetable Seeds For Desert Garden:

Heirloom Vegetable Seeds

How To Keep Animals Out Of Your Yard

desert animalsMany homeowners in the Vistancia area of North Peoria have been attacked by coyotes in their own backyards. One of the reasons this happens is our extremely dry winter. Typically when we have wet winters many of the desert animals can survive just fine with what’s in their typical territory. When the land dries up, the coyotes (along with rabbits, javelina, snakes and rabbits) head to our yards to get the food they need to survive. While most of these attacks on residents happened in fenceless yards it is not uncommon for a hungry predator to jump your fence. We aren’t talking about a little picket fence, either. That’s right, a coyote can leap right over our huge concrete block walls in search of food. They do it all the time and usually the end result is an attack on the pets in the yard. One summer morning while having coffee in the backyard a bobcat scaled a 12 foot retaining wall. My dogs were sleeping beside me and didn’t even notice her. In fact, she just sat on the wall, staring at me. I jumped up and screamed at her, which finally woke up the dogs! She was very frightened and immediately ran back down the wall and through the nearby wash. When you encounter a bobcat or coyote, make as much noise and possible. Stand up, the height will intimidate them as well. She never returned.

If a coyote can jump over your block wall then no where is safe, right? Not necessarily. There are several things you can do to protect your pets and small children. First things first: never, ever feed the wildlife. When a coyote gets fed by a human, the fear they have of people disintegrates. Would you be afraid of someone who gave you a meal? Not only does this break down their natural instinct to flee from humans, it can end up hurting our ecosystem in the long run. Coyotes who get food from humans put themselves at risk and it won’t be long before that animal can’t take care of himself in the wild anymore. Keep in mind pet food is also coyote food (and bobcat food and squirrel food and whatever else can make it into your yard), so never leave pet food outside.

Whenever possible keep your pets in a secure place, rather than out in the yard, especially when you aren’t home. You could come home to find your beloved pooch severely injured.

Make sure your gates are firmly closed, an open gate is an open invitation for just about anything out in the desert.

If you live in an area where coyotes are frequently jumping over block walls you can do a few things to lessen the chances of having one end up in your backyard:

- Add an extra row or two of blocks to your wall. Most HOAs won’t object provided you explain your case (living up next to a wash, backing to a mountain, etc.) and get permission ahead of time. Approval might be needed from your neighbors but in the end it is protecting their side as well! An extra 6 to 12 inches of wall could make all the difference in the world.

- Get creative with your gardening. The neat thing about the desert is many plants native to our region have already developed their own way to keep predators away. Thorny, sharp, spiny plants can act as a living wall to keep animals (and burglars for that matter) from entering your yard. Plant a row of ocotillos along your block wall, the sharp spines deter critters and they can get over 12 feet tall. Many types of thorny cactus can exceed the height of your wall as well, including prickly pear, organ pipe, saguaros and Argentine cactus. A row of tightly packed ficus or cypress can also be a barrier. Even things like oleanders and various native trees can act as an extended wall so coyotes can’t leap over top. Bougainvilleas can be trained up a wall and their thorns are great for deterring fence-hopping. Yuccas tend to have super sharp tips and can take the reflective heat that comes from your block wall in the summer. Browse some local nurseries and ask the folks that work there for living wall ideas. Not only will you cover up those unsightly concrete walls and beautify your backyard, you’ll be protecting your family as well.

More Resources on Protecting Your Garden From Desert Animals:

Clever Ways To Protect Your Garden From Hungry Animals

Ten Desert Landscaping Rules

Desert Landscaping RulesI’ve lived in the desert for over 8 years now and when I first started working in my arid garden I made mistakes. Lots of mistakes! Tired of having moments of silence for plants I’ve destroyed I hit the books and it wasn’t long before I had this whole desert gardening thing down. To save winterers and desert garden novices oodles of time I’ve created the Ten Desert Gardening Commandments. By adhering to these simple rules you are sure to save yourself hours of unnecessary work and hundreds of dollars in destroyed plants.

Without further ado here it is, the Ten Desert Gardening Commandments:
1. Thou shalt not take gorgeous desert shrubs and butcher them into little balls or squares. In addition, do not over prune your palm trees, it makes them weak and more susceptible to rot.

2. Thou shalt not be succumbed to the promising beauty of delicate plants such as camellias and mandevilla sold at big box stores, for they are not meant to grow in our harsh desert conditions.

3. Digging shallow holes for plants only means you will most likely be replacing them after the first summer.

4. Thou shalt not place thy watering emitters up against the tree trunk, always follow the canopy of the tree.

5. Water is sacred to us and our plants. Water infrequently, but deep. Let the system run for several hours infrequently, rather than 30 minutes every day.

6. Thou shalt respect thy neighbor by pruning thick trees during monsoon so they don’t blow over and land on top of their house.

7. Thou shalt never feed wildlife, no matter how cute they are, as it messes with their entire habitat and in the end will do more harm than good. Not to mention you don’t want them to tell all their friends!

8. Thou shalt consider mature sizes of plants when planning out the garden. Canary Island Date Palms look ridiculous in 6,000 square foot lots.

9. Thou shalt not prune thy desert plants between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. When you prune you are basically taking away another layer of frost protection for the plant.

10. Use caution when dust storm warnings are issued. Working in the garden during a dust storm is not only unpleasant, it is extremely dangerous. Breathing in the dust can cause valley fever which has no cure. Pets are even more affected and it can be lethal so keep your furry ones indoors until the storm has passed.

Here is a detailed guide to desert landscaping.

Quick Desert Gardening Tips

desert gardening tipsHere are today’s handy tips for gardening in the desert:

1. Instead of disinfecting your pruning shears with a bottle of bleach and water, just keep some bleach wipes with your gardening tools. It saves having to mix the solution and you won’t get it all over your clothes!

2. Don’t throw away those plastic knives, they make great garden markers. Never forget what you planted where – just write on the knife handle with permanent marker and you have a placer for the garden that won’t rot or burn up in the sun!

3. To keep rabbits out of your garden, try sprinkling kitty litter granules around the bed. Hair clippings will also work (cat, dog or human). Pepper does the trick as well but if you have pets it could irritate their mucus membranes.

4. Remember it is much easier to kill a cactus from overwatering than from not watering at all. If your cactus is starting to get soft, split or develop brown spots, let it dry out for a while.

5. Used coffee grounds are an excellent way to stop your queen palms from developing ‘frazzle top’. Apply around the palm and water well.

6. Another tip for healthy queen palms – water from above. Queens find overhead water very beneficial and can use it from time to time.

Happy gardening!

Buying Desert Plants At Big Box Home Improvement Stores

buying desert plantsBig box home improvement stores out here in the desert have a lush assortment of gorgeous plants at rock bottom prices. The two big guys even have 1-year guarantees on their plants, no questions asked. I love this.

What I don’t love about these same stores is two-fold.

First, let’s talk about the people that work there. Every week I see the same lady working in the garden department. She knows my name. She is from Georgia. All of her answers usually end with “I’m not sure dear we don’t have this kind of stuff in Georgia.” Fantastic. Combine this with the stoner cash register attendant and it makes you wonder who even does the ordering at the store. I have checked out several different big box stores and there is only one where the woman really knows her desert plants. She knows where to plant them, how much water they need and what will not grow out here. Today she gets all of my business when I need a big-box type of plant. I still hit the little nurseries for the special stuff!

Second, the inventory at big box stores is very similar to going into a car lot and finding a bright, shiny Ferrari you just adore, buying it, driving it home and realizing the damn thing doesn’t fit in the garage. The same can be said for the plants here. Camellias? Mandevillas? Really? This isn’t San Diego, folks. Ever see what a camellia looks like out here in August? Do you see that dead thing in the corner? That was it. Camellias should really be sold as annuals here. They will look nice in the winter and unless you move them into your garage or something, forget it. The biggest threats to a camellia are hot sun and dry winds. These things look gorgeous and thriving in filtered sunlight at the store but the minute they hit the real desert environment, you might as well light a candle for them.

I did a little digging and found out the majority of the plants they ship in to these stores out here in AZ come from sunny Southern California. Not the Palm Springs kind of California. The moist, not-too-hot part of California. They have never seen a minute of desert sun. The good part about most of the nurseries in this state is they are grown here. That means less transplant shock, less sunburn and a better chance of survival.

The big stores can be a great place to find nice plants for only a few dollars. Just keep in mind where they come from and make sure they grow in your zone before you take them home.

Here are a few resources to buy your desert plants:

www.phoenixdesertnursery.com

Top 5 Sites to Order Desert Plants

How To Get Rid Of Whiteflies

Easy ways to remove white flies

Getting rid of whitefliesWhiteflies are annoying little pests that suck the life out of your desert plants. Their larvae feed on the plant, sucking the water out of the cells. There are a few things you can do to reduce or eliminate these pests:

1. Blast the whole plant with water. Use soapy water if you can. This MUST be done at the end of the day (sundown) or our blistering desert sun will burn your leaves to a crisp!

2. Use sticky tape. Place some sticky tape (fly tape – you can get a 4 pack usually at the dollar store) on a stake, paper plate, etc and stick it in the ground next to the plant you are having trouble with. You should notice tons of whiteflies after a couple of days. Try to get yellow sticky traps because they are super attracted to the color yellow!

3. How is your ant population? In 90% of the whitefly cases we see the culprit is ants. Whiteflies produce a sugary substance ants absolutely love and the ants sometimes act like bodyguards, helping to ward off other insects. Get rid of the ants with some baits and your problem should lessen.

4. Get out your handheld vacuum and suck them up! They are the crankiest at dawn, when they aren’t fully up and running yet. This is the best time to try to catch them! Get under the leaves and foliage. We might add – this is a VERY good way to relieve stress!

5. Call the whitefly’s biggest enemy – the ladybug. Whiteflies are ladybug’s version of filet mignon. They are great for your garden…and good luck to boot!

6. Plant some things near your troubled plant(s) to deter whiteflies. Marigolds, for example, will help you get rid of them. The smell of marigolds to a whitefly is like a human smelling sewage. They will abandon your troubled plant, plus marigolds are very easy to grow!

You could just buy environmentally-unfriendly pesticide to kill them, however the guilt you will feel about ruining the environment might keep you up at night. ;) Besides, these little buggars are so used to being hated many types of whiteflies are resistant to pesticides!

Don’t get mad at the whiteflies…get even!

February Desert Gardening

February Desert Gardening To Do List

February Desert GardeningFebruary is a very exciting time in your desert garden! By the end of the month most of the frost warnings are gone and a lot of the garden is starting to wake up from its winter slumber. Here’s a checklist for February:

Plant:
– Gladiolus in various heights and colors. Stagger the planting for an extended bloom but remember, in most desert zones these do not make it through the summer.
– Ice plants can be planted before mid-February to give them time to develop roots before the summer heat gets to them.
– In Zones 9-10 at the end of February plant bulbs such as crinum, spider lily, Amaryllis and tiger flower. Tulips can still be planted this month as well.
– In Zone 8, plant gladiolus.
– In the garden, plant carrots, corn, eggplant, lettuce, cabbage, radishes, tomatoes and watermelon.
Care:
– In Zones 9-10 cut back canna to a few inches of the ground.
– Keep an eye out for aphids this month. If you spot these tiny critters a strong blast of water should eliminate them.
– To keep squirrels or other rodents away from bulbs try sprinkling red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper around the plant.
– Once frost danger is gone you can begin to prune your plants and remove any damaged parts that were ruined in the winter freeze.
Watering:
– Water bulbs and perennials when the soil is dry to the touch.
– Keep an eye on the garden in general as the days get longer. If anything appears wilted, up the watering a little.
Fertilize:
– If you’ve cut back your canna, apply a slow-release fertilizer. Canna will begin to grow very quickly.
– Fertilize iris and water thoroughly after initial application.
– Do not fertilize any plant that is dormant.
– Fertilize your citrus. It’s about to hit the big annual growth period.

Save up your energy in your February Desert Gardening projects, next month will be very busy!

January Desert Gardening

January Desert Gardening To Do List

January Desert GardeningJanuary is typically the ‘cold’ month in the desert. Here are a few tips to keep you on track during the month of January:

Plant:
– Set out hybrid tulips and hyacinth bulbs that had been prechilled (Zones 9-10). They need at least a month and a half of chilling before planting.
– Plant winter-growing aloe somewhere that protects them from afternoon sun.
– This is the best time to plant bare root trees and shrubs.
– African daisies, calendula, California poppy, hollyhocks, larkspur, pansies, roses, snapdragon, sweet peas and verbena can be planted this month.
– In your garden, plant asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, potatoes, radishes and strawberries (and other berries).
Care:
– Check to see birds and squirrels haven’t attacked bulb gardens. If they are getting at them, protect with wire or mesh.
– Protect frost-sensitive succulents during freeze warnings with sheets, frost cloth or cardboard boxes overnight. Citrus should be protected as well.
– If you experience frost damage this month on your cactus or succulents, leave it on the plant until next month. Cutting off the dead or damaged areas will make the tender wound opening susceptible to further frost damage, disease and rot.
– Prune roses, grapes and deciduous fruit trees.
– Harvest ripe citrus.
– The most important thing for January Desert Gardening is to control winter weeds. A good bout of rain will push those seedlings right up, best to take care of them now before the heat comes and they get out of control.
Watering:
– Check the moisture in bulbs this month. Water only when the soil is dry. The same also applies to potted plants and most perennials.
– Cactus should be watered every 4-5 weeks if it hasn’t rained. The same applies to summer-growing succulents.
– Winter-growing succulents should be watered about every 2 weeks. Increase watering to 10 days if the weather has been warmer than average.
– The biggest tip for watering this time of year – when in doubt, let it dry out! It is a lot harder to kill a cactus via drought. Over-watering leads to rot and disease.
– The drier a cactus or succulent is the less chance they’ll have of being damaged by frost.
Fertilize:
– Irises at the end of January (Zones 9-10). If it’s extra chilly this month, wait until early February to do so.
– Fertilize overseeded Bermuda lawn.

Do a few new things on your January Desert Gardening to-do list each weekend and you’ll be done before you know it!

How To Fix Frost Damaged Desert Plants

The New Year brought along good cheer and bitter cold temperatures across the California, Arizona and Nevada desert floor. We had rain followed by wind and cold. Temps in the Phoenix area dipped into the upper 20s and many of us are left with a yard full of frost burned palms, crunchy lantana and frozen bougainvillea.  I’m here to tell you it isn’t as bad as it looks!  Here are some tips on how to fix frost damaged desert plants.

frost damage arizona

The lantana (front) sage bush (right) and pygmy date palm (center) all have frost damage, which will be trimmed away in late February.

Plant Help For Frost Damaged Desert Shrubs

Let’s get the bad news out of the way. If you’ve planted anything in the past 12 months and it looks dead, it just might be. It didn’t have a lot of time to develop deep roots so be prepared to replace it. HOWEVER…wait until the end of March before you pull it out, as it could possibly grow back. Read below.

For established trees and plants, chances are the majority of what looks bad will come right back once it warms up. While a plant such as a lantana might be cold hardy to around 30 degrees, the roots themselves can take much colder temps before they die off.

In a few weeks it will be safe to start hard pruning. By hard pruning I mean cut off all of the frost burned stems/branches/damaged parts. Some things you can even cut back to the ground. In a couple of weeks you will notice it starting to grow back and by the summertime you won’t even be able to tell we had a hard winter.

I cannot stress enough the importance of waiting a little longer to trim these things. If we get a cold snap in early February and the frost comes again if you’ve hard pruned you could completely kill your desert plant. So play it safe and start cutting back around Valentine’s Day.

Here are a few more specific pointers for how to fix frost damaged desert plants:

Bougainvillea
These probably don’t look so hot right now. All of the bougainvillea in my yard look like someone put them in the freezer. The roots of a bougainvillea are frail but extensive. Cut off all damaged canes or any branches that have all the leaves killed off. If the entire plant looks frozen, trim it like you would a rose bush. Trim all the peripheral branches/twigs off and leave a few larger branches. It will grow back very quickly once it warms up, but be very careful NOT to trim back anywhere that looks like it is growing/unharmed. You want to keep as much of the living stems as possible.

Hibiscus
Typically established hibiscus are pretty hardy but every once in a while the cold snap will cause your plant to lose its leaves. Trim this only to shape. It will start to grow back around early April.

Sage Bushes
Frost tends to turn parts of the sage bushes brown. The leaves will drop. You can selectively trim off the frost burned branches, otherwise just trim to shape.

Lantana
It is often said you can’t kill a lantana! While this isn’t completely true lantana will most likely return. Every late winter I cut all of our lantana back to a couple of inches off the ground. This may seem harsh but believe me, they will grow back. This is called a ‘hard prune’. Hard pruning your lantana will also allow it to grow in thick and full, eliminating that leggy look lantana often develop.

Ficus
The poor, poor ficus in the desert! It seems these big, marvelous guys just can’t get a break. Frost will burn the ficus in patches, you’ll notice a big patch of brown, dead leaves while the rest of the tree looks untouched.  You can trim off the dead or just wait for the old leaves to drop off.  Once the dead stuff drops you’ll have an easier time seeing which parts of the tree were damaged/dead and which parts are thriving.  Trim off the dead and leave the rest alone, it will recover.  Sometimes they will even lose every single leaf and start growing from out of the ground again.

Cactus
If your cactus is damaged from the frost the tip or sides will turn from green to purple or black. If it’s purple, leave it alone. Chances are it will come back. If it is black, chop off the tip where it’s black. Yes, I am telling you to decapitate your cactus. The black means it is dead in that part and if you do not remove the dead it will rot and eventually kill the entire cactus. Chop off the black and in a few months it will start to sprout a few new pups off the chopped part, leaving you with a unique looking specimen. Do this on a warm, sunny day, the later in the season the better. If the cactus is jointed (like cholla, prickly pear, etc) you can cut at the joint as much as you need.

Agave and Aloe
Remove any wilted arms/leaflets about an inch from the center of the plant. It will harden up around the cut part and continue growing on its merry little way.

Ornamental Grasses
These probably have turned into straw. Hard prune down to about 4 inches. They will grow back fuller and healthier than the year before.

Yellow Bells, Honeysuckle, Bird of Paradise and Orange Bells
These two are semi-dormant during the winter anyway, you can remove the frost bitten stems and prune to shape. If it’s really damaged, cut it back to about a foot from the ground.

Oleander
If you have frost damage on oleander you really got hit hard, because they are usually the last to show signs of damage. Remove the dead/damaged parts and prune to shape. Always wear gloves, as all parts of the oleander are poisonous!

Palm Trees
If the bud of the palm tree is healthy then your palm is fine. Cut off the dead frond or the damage only, do not cut more than you absolutely have to. Palms need these green fronds to photosynthesize, which gives them the ingredients they need to be healthy.

Remember don’t start hard pruning until after Valentine’s Day, so save this list for mid-February and keep your chin up!

Huge Fall Desert Plant Sale

Don’t forget, this weekend (Oct 16-17) is the fall desert plant sale at the Botanical Garden in Phoenix. This thing is MASSIVE. There are hundreds of different desert plants for sale! Get there early or the parking lot becomes a zoo.

Huge Fall Desert Plant Sale

The Desert Botanical Garden Has Thousands Of Heat-Hardy Plants For Sale

Desert Plant Sale At The Desert Botanical Garden

The Desert Botanical Garden Plant Sale Festival is a one-stop shopping experience featuring the largest variety of arid-adapted plants available in one location. Garden volunteers and horticulturists are all on hand to answer questions, assist in plant selections and offer advice. There is also a used book sale offering a wide variety of subjects with all proceeds benefiting the Garden’s library. Specialty retailers offer pottery and other garden accessories.

No admission charge to enter the Fall Plant Sale.

October 18 Update: The Fall Plant Sale was great! Thousands of plants all in one place! The prices were very reasonable, you can purchase 1-gallon hard-to-find plants for just $6.50 and 5-gallon plants were around $20. Even older plants, such as a 10-year-old cluster of golden barrels were inexpensive. The huge cactus was only $40! They also had a book sale and on Sunday all the remaining books were only 25 cents! Proceeds benefit the Botanical Garden. Keep an eye out for the Spring Sale, you don’t want to miss it.