Master Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate
|A border of white roses, red
fountain grass, society garlic, flax and star jasmine is
sophisticated, simple and very water-wise. (Well,
the roses need extra water.)
Beautiful Borders in Hot
Yes--you can create beautiful flower
borders like the ones we all see in magazines -- even though you
live in a desert or desert-like climate. You can have flowers to admire in the
garden for months on end or cut for fresh bouquets in your home.
And it is easier than you might imagine. Simply select
drought-tolerant plants that are suitable for our climate
extremes, such as the ones we have listed and shown below.
Now here are some secrets to those
lush-looking borders you see in magazines: 1) group 2 or 3 of
the same plants close together. When the grow they will give the
appearance of one large plant. And 2) plant your flowers fairly
densely. If you plant them far apart it may take several years
before the border fills in and looks good. You can always
transplant if your border gets too crowded. Densely planted
borders keep down weeds and help maintain moisture, too -- which
is particularly important in a desert garden.
A Lavender and Yellow Border
Try some of these as a basis of a
drought-tolerant, xeriscape border that has predominantly
gray-green foliage with purple, blue, lavender and yellow
blossoms. These plants need some water, of course, but many are
considered to be at the heart of a low water-usage garden. The
taller ones go in the back of the border; medium height in the
middle; then the short ones at the front edge.
grandiflora) - expect golden yellow blooms for
months if you pick off the old flowerheads. These
daisy-like flowers stand 1 to 2 feet tall and grow
easily from seed. Coreopsis self-seeds, so all you
have to do is plant it once.
The coreopsis, right, are tucked into a terra cotta
pot between a trailing Licorice plant and Dusty
(Stachys byzantina) - a low grower that is
good for edging borders and it grows fast and
spreads quickly. Soft, fuzzy gray leaves. Small
purple flowers bloom from thick erect stems.
This lambs' ear in bloom shares a border with
turf lily (Liriope
muscari) and a
|Artemisia (Artemesia 'Powis
Castle') - artemesias are native to the
American west, and many are known by the generic
common name of sagebrush. The "Powis Castle" variety
was developed for use in areas that get regular
watering and can grow to 6 feet wide or more. The
'Silver Mound' variety does not do well in a desert
||Lavender cotton (Santolina
incana) - not related to lavender at all, this
low growing gray or green lacy-leafed plant has a
burst of yellow button-like flowers in early summer.
Should be trimmed back after blooming and even then
it is a short-lived perennial and quite
The purple petunias won't last long in hot
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||Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia
leucantha) - another drought-tolerant
gray-green plant with soft fuzzy leaves topped by
spires of intensely purple blossoms. Long blooming.
It grows to 2 or 3 feet tall and flowers both in
Spring and Fall/Winter. Hummingbirds love these
blooms and will feast on them from dawn to dusk.
- a hardy native plant with very fine gray-green
leaves. (Shown here in front of golden day lilies)
The flat flower heads stand 3 feet tall on slender
steams. Yellow and white are the traditional colors,
but new varieties come in pinks, purples, even a
coppery red variety.
(Perovskia atriiplicifolia) - soft gray
leaves with small lavender blue flowers that give
the appearance of a blue cloud above the plant.
Grows to 3 or 4 feet tall and is ideal for the back
of a perennial border
yellow blooms stay in flower into early Winter.
Lantana also comes in purples, pinks, and brilliant
orange flowers. A new Lantana hybrid has variegated
leaves with chartreuse green edges. Very
- a lovely favorite in Mediterranean gardens. Sweetly
fragrant purple flowers. Will reseed itself and hummingbirds
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- select from dozens of yellow, purple or white iris. After
the short bloom period in the spring, the leaves of bearded
iris provide a nice vertical element. A vigorous grower in
our climate with relatively little water needed, so give it
some room to grow or you may find yourself dividing the
- various hybrids) - this low growing plant makes a pretty
edge along a xeriscape border. Both annual and perennial
varieties are readily available in lots of colors, including
purple and lavender.
Then, for variety, tuck in clusters
of annuals like zinnias or marigolds in sunny orange, gold
and yellow. Include dark green herbs such as rosemary or
scented geraniums for fragrance and leaf color contrast. Or
shrubs such as white roses or tall yellow hollyhocks for an
(Check out our
guide to picking healthy plants in the nursery)
To see beautiful
cactus and succulent borders
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Our 8 Most Popular Hot Gardens Newsletters:
Flowering plants that reliably bloom in scorching mid-summer heat.
Australian plants and trees that grow well in hot, dry climates.
Weather-proofing palms for winter; cold weather palm trees.
A white garden for night time
Topiary can be easy to create
and add charm to your garden.
Techniques to combat death by heat exhaustion of plants in pots.
7. Cactus as security barriers
for your property.
South African aloes for
brilliant late winter color in your garden.
Frugal gardening tips to save you money.
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