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  A Master Gardener's guide to gardening in a hot dry climate 
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Mexican bush sage salvia leucantha
A favorite of hummingbirds is the Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia Leucantha), a vigorous grower in a hot climate. Better yet, it blooms twice a year in spring and early winter.  One year, we picked the blooms and used them to decorate our Christmas tree!

Plants To Attract Birds and the Bees

How easy it is to attract birds to your hot climate garden! Simply plant some shrubs, trees and flowers and, almost immediately, birds appear. The shrubs offer nesting sites, trees will provide shelter from predators like peregrine falcons and your neighbor's cat, and the flower seeds can be a food source for many wild birds. Birds also feast on insects in the garden. The real trick is to attract the birds you want in your xeriscape garden -- say, for example, hummingbirds, without attracting pest birds like pigeons.

chitalpa tree blossoms The blossoms of the long-blooming Chitalpa tree (Chitalpa x tashkentensis) are favorites with hummingbirds.  The Chitalpa is one of the best small trees for hot, dry desert gardens.

A Hummingbird Garden

Shades of red and orange are the colors and tubular is the shape that attracts these tiny acrobatic birds, so plant a drought-tolerant border or flower bed with the vibrantly blooming plants hummingbirds really love. 

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Penstemon (Penstemon species and hybrids) - these Western native perennials grow as low, ordinary-looking clumps of leaves, but come Spring, spires grow to heights of 2 feet covered with tubular shaped red, orange and yellow blooms. The bushier Garden Penstemon hybrid (Penstemon x gloxiniodes) blooms later, larger and in a wider range of colors.

trumpet creeper on arbor The Trumpet Creeper (Campsis radicans) from the eastern U.S. is a self-attaching vine with bright yellow and orange blossoms. This vine can grow as much 40 feet in one year! Because it is such a vigorous grower and can become invasive, it is best planted in a large container beside the trellis or arbor. It is tolerant of a variety of soil conditions and of heat and cold. Needs moderate water in summer.

California Fuchsia (Zauschneria californica) - another western native perennial, it is low growing with narrow gray-green leaves. In late Summer and Fall, it bursts into bloom with orange, red or yellow flowers to liven your xeriscape garden.

Coral Bells (Heuchera sanguinea) - coral bells have relatively large and colorful leaves. On many newer hybrids the leaves are bronze. These perennials prefer some shade. Dainty flowers bloom in Spring on slender spire-like stems. 

Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) - you will find this popular Western native with tiny red flowers in every nursery in town. It needs some shade during the hottest part of the day, but is a drought tolerant plant.

Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica) - the deep red blooms on this shrub look like mini powder puffs. Will bloom almost year round with moderate watering. Grows to 5 feet tall. 

mexican bird of paradise Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii or Poinciana pulcherrima) - A fast-growing shrub with fine feathery foliage, it blooms yellow or red/orange almost all summer long. Grows to 10 feet tall. Needs very little water once established.

Lion's Tail (Leonotis leonurus) - you may have to search out this South African evergreen shrub that grows 4 to 6 feet tall. From Summer to Fall it blooms with whorls of tubular, vibrant orange and yellow flowers.

You could also plant salvias (sages), desert willow, hollyhock, columbine, and butterfly bush and lantana to attract birds and bees to your garden.


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Dangerous Honey Bees?

90% of the honey bees in Southern Nevada, Arizona, Texas, southern New Mexico and southern California are already Africanized. These bees are the so-called "killer bees" and can be dangerous to humans and animals.

If you see honey bees nesting in or around your home or swarming in a nearby tree, do NOT try to deal with them yourself.  Call a pest control company.

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Our 8 Most Popular Hot Gardens Newsletters: 

Mixed lantana Flowering plants that reliably bloom in scorching mid-summer heat. Australian acacia shrub. Australian plants and trees that grow well in hot, dry climates
Mediterranean fan palm Weather-proofing palms for winter; cold weather palm trees. White roses for night garden A white garden for night time viewing.
Trimmed myrtle and boxwood Topiary can be easy to create and add charm to your garden. Geranium in pot on patio Techniques to combat death by heat exhaustion of plants in pots.
Octopus cactus Cactus as security barriers for your property. Aloe in bloom South African aloes for brilliant late winter color in your garden.

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