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Gardening sheets accent plants

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Plant & gardening information for plants included in a talk on using Sonoran Desert plants as accent plant.

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Gardening sheets accent plants

  1. 1. *Beavertail cactus – Opuntia basilaris (O-PUN-tee-a ba-si-LAR-is) Family: Cactaceae (Cactus Family) Native to: Mostly in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts of CA, UT, NV & AZ and also in northwest Mexico; sandy valley floors, alluvial fans, and rocky slopes and canyons in many plant communities including Creosote Bush Scrub, Joshua Tree Woodland, Chaparral, Southern Oak Woodland, Coastal Sage Scrub, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland, Valley Grassland. Growth characteristics: clumping perennial cactus mature height: 2-3 ft. mature width: 2-5 ft. Striking succulent cactus with broad, paddle-like stems. Plant is blue-gray to gray-green. Habit is upright to sprawling. This species is much used in gardens due to attractive color and form. Blooms/fruits: Blooms in spring after rains – usually Feb.-April, but may be as late as May. Plants will have many flowers in a good year. Flowers are bright pink and large for Opuntia. This is probably one of the prettiest bloomers of the Opuntia. Flowers attract many pollinators. Birds and animals eat fruits (as do humans). Uses in the garden: Most often used as accent plant in desert landscapes. Does fine in rock gardens and can be grown in large containers. Does well any place that’s hot and dry in summer. Used as a hedge plant in desert Southwest. Fruits, buds, seeds and pads are all edible. Sensible substitute for: Non-native cacti, succulents. Attracts: Excellent pollinator and bird habitat: provides cover, nectar and seeds for food. Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Full sun to part-shade. Contain plants like part-shade in summer. Soil Quite tolerant, though likes sandy/gravelly soils; local pH fine. Water Supplement in winter as needed; no summer water. Fertilizer None needed in ground; single dose of ½ strength in spring for container-grown. Other Inorganic mulch only. Management: Dead pads can be removed. Use tongs to handle – hair-like spines wicked! Propagation: from seed: fresh seed by cuttings: smaller pads will easy root, spring Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 24, 68, 69, 78, 79 1/3/19 * California native, but not native to Western Los Angeles County © Project SOUND
  2. 2. *Nevada agave – Agave utahensis var. nevadensis (a-GAH-vee you-tah-EN-sis) Family: Agavaceae (Agave Family) Native to: Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Mojave Desert mountains of eastern San Bernardino County (3,000-5,200 feet); limestone ridges and outcrops in Creosote Bush Scrub, Joshua Tree Woodland, Pinyon-Juniper Woodland. Rare in CA. Growth characteristics: clumping perennial succulent mature height:1-2 ft. mature width: 1-2 ft. Evergreen, succulent agave with fleshy, blue-green to gray-green leaves. Particularly noted for smaller size and long (blunt) terminal spines. Leaves grow in dense, regular rosette. Very attractive accent plant. Slow growing; suckers slowly. Note: sap can cause mild skin allergy. Blooms/fruits: Blooms late spring (May-Jul). Plants mature slowly, bloom once, then parent plant dies. Flowers on 10-15 ft. slender stalks. Yellow, bulbous flowers attract hummingbirds, large butterflies and moths. Fruit a fleshy capsule that dries and splits to release flat, black seeds. Uses in the garden: One of the most attractive agaves to use as an accent plant. Small size and slow growth makes it perfect for containers and small planters. Does well along hot walls, rock gardens and on slopes. Appropriate look for contemporary, desert or Mediterranean-style gardens. Young flower stalks, heart and roots can be cooked for sweet syrup. Strong fiber used for brushes. Sensible substitute for: Non-native agaves and similar succulents. Attracts: Hummingbird habitat; seeds eaten by birds. Host to Mojave Giant-Skipper butterfly. Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Full sun. Soil Well drained (sandy or rocky best); pH 7.0-8.0. Water In ground, occasional to no summer water once established; in containers, once a month in summer (Water Zone 1-2) Fertilizer None needed in ground; ½ strength single dose in spring for container-grown. Other Inorganic mulch, or none. Management: One of easier native agaves to grow. Heat- and cold tolerant. Thrives on neglect. Propagation: from seed: easy with fresh seed by offsets: yes Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 6, 9, 46, 79, 81, Monrovia 12/30/18 * California native, but not native to Western Los Angeles County © Project SOUND
  3. 3. *Rush (Desert) milkweed – Asclepias subulata (ass-CLE-pee-us sub-u-LA-tuh) Family: Asclepiaceae (Milkweed Family) Native to: Desert Mountains, Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert of CA, NV, AZ northwester Mexico; Dry slopes, mesas, plains & desert washes to 3000 ft. in Desert Scrub plant communities. Growth characteristics: perennial/sub-shrub mature height: 2-4 ft. mature width: 2-4 ft. Evergreen perennial or sub-shrub. Leaves small, drought deciduous, often lacking. Many erect stems from a single root crown (looks somewhat like Equisetum). Stems evergreen. Striking accent plant! Blooms/fruits: Blooms off-and-on, year-round with the rains. Flowers yellow, with typical form for milkweeds. Flowers in rather open clusters (umbels) atop flowering stems. Good pollinator habitat. Uses in the garden: Often used as accent plant in desert or Mediterranean-themes gardens. Upright form provides useful contrast to other plants. Can be grown in large containers. Tough plant that can be grown on parking strips, along hot walls, other hot, dry spots. Monarch/Queen Butterfly habitat plant. Note: all plant parts mildly toxic if eaten. Sensible substitute for: Non-native milkweeds. Attracts: Excellent Monarch/Queen larval habitat; also provides nectar for range of pollinators and seeds for food. Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Full sun (best) to light shade. Soil Well-drained (sandy or rocky best); local pH fine. Water Best with occasional summer water once established (Water Zone 1-2). Fertilizer None need in ground; container plants need dose of ½ strength in spring. Other Inorganic or no mulch. Management: Little yearly maintenance once established. But back to 3-4 inches ever 5 years. Propagation: from seed: fresh seed; fairly easy by cuttings: ?? Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 8, 24, 47, 68 12/31/18 * California native, but not native to Western Los Angeles County © Project SOUND
  4. 4. *Nevada jointfir/Mormon tea – Ephedra nevadensis (eh-FED [FEED]-ruh nev-uh-DEN-sis) Family: Ephedraceae (Ephedra Family) Native to: Mojave Desert, Sonoran Desert, desert mountains and Sierra Nevada range from OR to UT, NV, AZ, CA and Baja CA. Locally Mojave Desert and desert mountains; common in a variety of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.), desert shrub, and pinyon-juniper (Pinus-Juniperus spp.) communities. Usually grows on rocky slopes. Growth characteristics: clumping perennial shrub mature height: 1-3 ft. mature width: 1-4+ ft. Drought-deciduous shrub that is leafless most of the year. Habit is upright to mounded. Stems are pencil-like and green in color (older stems become yellow). Unique accent due to form. Blooms/fruits: Blooms late winter to spring. Plants are dioecious (separate male/female plants). Flowers simple, wind-pollinated, small. Species is a gymnosperm, producing seeds in small, simple, scaly cones. Cones are small and not very conspicuous. Uses in the garden: Most often used as a green shrub or accent plant. Looks at home in many water-wise designs, including desert-themed, Mediterranean and desert-modern. Especially lovely against a wall of contrasting color – or in front of evergreen pines or junipers. Thrives on neglect on dry hillsides. Fresh/dried stems can be used to make culinary/medicinal tea. Seeds and young fresh stems can also be prepared (seeds dried & ground; stems steamed) and eaten. Sensible substitute for: Non-native water-wise species from S. Africa, S. America. Attracts: Excellent bird habitat: provides cover and seeds for food. In wilds, plants browsed by large mammals (deer, sheep, etc.). Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Full sun. Soil Rocky or sandy soils best; any local pH, even slightly alkali. Water Low needs. Probably best every 4-6 weeks in summer (Water Zone 1-2, 2) Fertilizer None needed. Other Inorganic mulch, or none Management: hardy, pest-free, required little maintenance. Looks better if pruned lightly in fall. Propagation: from seed: easy; fresh seed by transplants & cuttings: yes to both Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 6, 10, 16, 46, 61, 66, 77 1/2/19 * California native, but not native to Western Los Angeles County © Project SOUND
  5. 5. *Baja spurge – Euphorbia xanti (yu-FOR-bee-uh ZAN-tee) Family: Euphorbaceae (Euphorbia Family) Native to: Central to Southern Baja CA; grows on sea bluffs, dunes, rocky washes and slopes. Growth characteristics: perennial shrub mature height: 4-6 ft. mature width: 6-8 ft. Drought-deciduous shrub with many, pencil-thin branches. Dense with age; mounded to irregular form. Leaves small, succulent, lost in dry conditions. Sprouts from roots, spreads. Note: sap is toxic and allergenic. Avoid contact with sap. Blooms/fruits: Blooms after winter/spring rains, anytime from winter through early summer. Flowers small, white-pink in open clusters. Flowering plants may be literally covered in blossoms – extremely showy in bloom. Uses in the garden: Most useful in small, hot places. Often used as large background shrub or for hedge/hedgerow/screen. Makes a nice accent on slopes, out of the way places. Can be pruned up as a small tree, even used on parking strips. Can be grown successfully in large containers. Sensible substitute for: Non-native, pink-flowering shrubs like Cotoneaster. Attracts: Excellent pollinator habitat: provides cover and seeds for bird food. Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Full sun. Soil Most well-drained soils; any local pH (even alkali). Water Very drought tolerant, but looks best with occasional summer water (Water Zone 2). Fertilizer Needed only for container-grown plants; single dose ½ strength fertilizer in spring. Other No thick organic mulches Management: Remove the many seedlings and root sprouts (can take over). Prune to shape in fall. Wear eye protection, gloves, long sleeves and pants when handling this plant. Rinse off skin that come in contact with sap right away. Propagation: from seed: easy by cuttings: like yes Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 3, 13, 14, water-wise nurseries 12/29/18 * California Floristic Province native, but not native to Western Los Angeles County © Project SOUND
  6. 6. *Baja pitchersage – Lepechinia hastata (le-peh-KIN-ee-uh hass-TAH-tuh) Family: Lamiaceae (Mint Family) Native to: Western coast of Baja CA, Mexico; in slightly moister areas in hilly landscapes, near coasts in chaparral or low woodland plant communities. Growth characteristics: perennial/subshrub mature height: 4-6 ft. mature width: 4-6+ ft. Evergreen or mostly so. Sub-shrub that spreads via rhizomes to form a ground cover. Foliage is gray-green to mint-green, with scented, fuzzy leaves. Leaves and flowers on upright stalks – unusual and attractive. Leaves can be used to tea; also produce anti-microbial chemicals. Blooms/fruits: Blooms in summer, usually August-October. Flowers grow along upright, 12 inch stalks. Flowers have typical ‘hummingbird flower’ trumpet shape with reproductive organs exserted. Flower color a bright magenta – very striking and attractive. A real show-stopper when in bloom! Uses in the garden: Makes a showy accent where ever it’s used. Fine as a tall ground cover, including on dry slopes, in light shade under trees. Fine as an accent mid-bed, with other plants that take a bit of summer water. Striking in large containers. Good for aroma, habitat gardens. Sensible substitute for: Non-native Salvias. Attracts: Excellent hummingbird habitat: plant where you can enjoy them. Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Full sun to light shade. Soil Most local soils except those with very poor drainage; any local pH. Water Moderate to low summer water (Water Zone 2 or 2-3 best). Fertilizer None needed in ground; yearly light fertilizer in containers. Other Light organic mulch OK. Management: Prune back lightly in winter to tidy. Can dead-head after bloom to encourage longer bloom season. Easy to manage plant. Propagation: from seed: fresh seed in fall/winter by cuttings: semi-soft in late spring Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 9, 13, 46, 71, 73 1/1/19 * California native, but not native to Western Los Angeles County © Project SOUND
  7. 7. *Baja nightshade – Solanum hindsianum (so-LAN-num hind-see-ANN-um) Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family) Native to: throughout Baja California and northwest Mexico. Occasionally in southern AZ; rocky hillsides, bajadas, arroyos, canyons and other hot, dry places, Sonoran Desert in Mexico. Growth characteristics: perennial shrub mature height: 3-6+ ft. mature width: 3-6 ft. Winter-deciduous shrub or sub-shrub; dies back in cold weather & re-sprouts quickly in spring. Growth form open, prostrate and up-right, mounded with age. Moderately fast growth rate. Leaves light gray-green with many gray hairs. Note: all part of plant are toxic to humans/animals. Blooms/fruits: Blooms off-and-on with good water; mostly in cooler fall and spring weather. Flowers have typical shape for Solanum (like a tomato flower). Flowers bright violet in color, about 2 inches across. Plants can be covered in blooms – very attractive. Buzz pollinated by large bees. Fruits are small, look like tiny tomatoes. Uses in the garden: Most often used as an accent plant in Sonoran- or Mediterranean-themed gardens. Use where ever a large Solanum is needed – background plant, hedge plant, etc. Can even be pruned up as a small tree or planted in a large container. Great for hot, sunny conditions. Sensible substitute for: Non-native large Solanum (‘Potato trees’). Attracts: Excellent Bumblebee habitat plant. Birds eat fruits/seeds. Larval food for sphinx moth caterpillars. Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Full sun to part-shade; tolerates sun, heat well. Soil Any well-drained, including clays; pH 6.0-9.0. Water 2-4 times a month during hot, dry periods (Water Zone 2-3); to daily in containers. Fertilizer Only needed in container grown (yearly ½ strength dose) Other Management: Prune lightly to shape, any time of the year. Propagation: from seed: fresh seed; winter by cuttings: ?? Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 13, 14 12/29/18 * California Floristic native, but not native to Western Los Angeles County © Project SOUND
  8. 8. *Common wooly sunflower – Eriophyllum lanatum (air-ee-OFF-i-lum lan-AY-tum) Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower Family) Native to: Western North America from British Columbia to Baja. In Ca, mostly in northern & Sierra Ranges, but also San Gabriels; mostly in dry, open places below 10,000 feet, but it also grows on rocky slopes and bluffs in many plant communities from coastal scrub to mountain woodlands. Growth characteristics: herbaceous perennial mature height: 1-2 ft. mature width: 2-4 ft. Annual, biennial, or generally perennial herb to subshrub (depending on where it grows). Locally, treat as perennial. Gray-green plant with fuzzy foliage. Plants may be erect or sprawling, but commonly form loose mounds or cover ground as groundcover. Plants and leaves quite variable. Blooms/fruits: Blooms spring to summer – generally May to August. Flowers in heads typical of the Sunflowers. Both ray and disc flowers yellow (disc slightly more gold). Plants may be covered in blooms – nice bright accent. Attracts a wide range of pollinators including sulfurs, red admiral and skipper butterflies. Birds eat the seeds. Very much looks like a cultivated plant. Uses in the garden: Most often used as a bright accent in mixed beds, under trees or along walkways. Excellent choice for habitat gardens. Right at home in Mediterranean-type gardens. Combines well with other native plants with similar needs. Good choice also for containers. Cultivar ‘Siskiyou’ is low (< 12 inches) with nice foliage; cultivar ‘Takilma Gold’ forms a gray 12 inch mound. Sensible substitute for: Non-native bushy sunflowers. Attracts: Excellent pollinator & bird habitat: provides cover, nectar and seeds for food. Requirements: Element Requirement Sun Full sun (with water) to afternoon shade. Soil Fine in most local soils. pH 6.0-8.0. Water Water 1-2 times a month in summer (Water Zone 2); container plants require more. Fertilizer None needed in ground; dose of half-strength in spring for container-grown. Other Modest mulch is fine. Management: Deadhead flowers to prolong bloom, improve appearance. Propagation: from seed: easy with fresh seed by cuttings: likely yes Plant/seed sources (see list for source numbers): 11, 13, 46, 62 12/29/18 * California native, but not native to Western Los Angeles County © Project SOUND

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