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For The Garden

Non-toxic, Pet-friendly Plants

Author: Nancy Erdmann
Issue: August, 2010, Page 90
(Pittosporum tobira)

Best traits—Commonly referred to as mock orange, this evergreen shrub is known for its thick dark-green foliage, compact growth and small clusters of sweetly fragrant springtime flowers. It is heat- and drought-resistant, frost-hardy and salt-tolerant. Its natural branching form makes it ideal for hedges, screens and windbreaks.

Growing tips—Plant in full sun to part shade. It does best with moderate to regular watering and an application of a complete fertilizer in spring. Regular pruning after blooming may be required to keep the plant in check.

(Salvia coccinea)

Best traits—If you are looking for color, this self-seeding perennial puts on a show in late summer to early fall. Flower hues range from bright red to pink to white. It makes a good bedding, border or container plant, and attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. This spikey salvia is ideal for cottage-style desert gardens.

Growing tips—Texas sage prefers full sun to light shade and regular to moderate watering. Be careful not to over-water. Deadhead (remove) spent flowers to encourage rebloom and keep the plant compact.

(Echeveria derenbergii)

Best traits—Also known as painted lady, this clumping succulent consists of small blue-green rosettes that produce delicate yellow flowers with peach tips in spring to early summer. It is low-maintenance, requires little water, and can be grown in the ground or in pots.

Growing tips—This heat-lover does well in full sun to light shade. In summer, water moderately; in winter, irrigate just enough to keep the potting medium slightly moist. Be careful not to over-water, as this can cause root rot. The best color is achieved with minimal water.

(Callistemon species)

Best traits—Bottlebrush is grown for its unusual brushlike stamens, ranging in color from red, purple and pink, to green, yellow and white. Hummingbirds, butterflies and bees are attracted to the flowers, which appear in spring and early summer. This easy-to-grow species is drought-tolerant once established. Available in tree or shrub forms, some varieties also can be espaliered on walls.

Growing tips—Tolerant of moister soils but able to adapt to a variety of growing mediums, bottlebrush should be planted in full sun. Fertilize regularly to sustain good flower color.

Other favorites:
Bamboo, calendula, canna lily, grape ivy, ice plant, natal plum, sand verbena, star jasmine, wandering jew

Plants to avoid:
Aloe vera, bird of paradise, eucalyptus, geranium, hibiscus, lantana, lobelia, oleander, vinca, yucca
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