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For The Garden

Blue Plants

Author: Nancy Erdmann
Issue: June, 2012, Page 98
SANTA RITA TUBAC™ PRICKLY PEAR
(Opuntia santa-rita ‘Tubac’)



Blue-Hued Plants for the Desert

SANTA RITA TUBAC™ PRICKLY PEAR
(Opuntia santa-rita ‘Tubac’)


Type: Cactus

Pads/flowers/fruit: Soft blue-gray pads in summer that turn purple in winter; yellow flowers in spring; purple fruit in summer

Size: 4'H and 6'W

Soil: Loose, well-draining

Light: Full sun; reflected heat

Water needs: Minimal once established

Maintenance: If a white cottony substance called cochineal scale appears on pads, spray with water to remove.

Attracts: Bees and hummingbirds

Note: Due to its spiny nature, this plant should be located away from high-traffic areas.

Why we like it: It is waterwise and provides year-round interest with pads that change color with the weather. It is cold-hardy and fire-resistant.


BISMARCK PALM
(Bismarck nobilis)
BISMARCK PALM
(Bismarck nobilis)


Type: Evergreen tree

Foliage/flower: Silver-blue; pale-yellow flowers in spring

Size: 15-40'H and 10-20'W (canopy)

Soil: Well-draining; sandy

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Irrigate regularly; do not over-water.

Maintenance: Feed four times a year with palm fertilizer.

Note: Transplant shock is common, but the tree recovers once acclimated. When planted in mass, it creates natural screening; be sure to space at least 15 feet apart. Bismarck palm also can be grown inside, but will eventually need to be transplanted outside.

Why we like it: This fan-leafed palm specimen makes a dramatic focal point, loves the heat, is cold-hardy, offers shade and is fast-growing.


BUTTERFLY AGAVE
(Agave potatorum)
BUTTERFLY AGAVE
(Agave potatorum)


Type: Perennial succulent

Foliage: Grayish, steel-blue

Size: 18-24"H and 12-24"W

Soil: Handles most types, but must be well-draining

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water needs: Allow it to dry out between waterings.

Maintenance: When transplanting, do not place deeper than originally planted, or it may not survive. Occasional misting with water keeps leaves free of dust.

Note: Butterfly agave lives about 10 years, then sends up a flower-bearing stalk. After the bloom dies, so does the plant.

Why we like it: Its tightly packed leaves form a striking rosette that looks like a work of art. This low-water-use agave also makes an excellent container plant.


BLUE CHALK STICKS
(Senecio mandraliscae)
BLUE CHALK STICKS
(Senecio mandraliscae)


Type: Perennial succulent

Foliage/blooms: Chalky-blue; whitish flowers in summer

Size: 12-18"H and 24"W

Soil: Well-draining; sandy

Light: Full sun to part shade

Water needs: Irrigate regularly until established; then let soil dry out between waterings. Do not over-water, as it is susceptible to root rot.

Maintenance: When transplanting, be careful not to damage the delicate stems. Feed in spring and fall with a slow-release fertilizer.

Attracts: Butterflies, bees and hummingbirds

Note: Also known as blue finger, it is fire-resistant and makes a unique ground cover.

Why we like it: Reminiscent of sea coral, this unusual succulent is fast-growing and looks great in containers.
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