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For The Garden

Updated Plant Options

Author: Cathy Cromell
Issue: February, 2014, Page 124
Photo courtesy Mountain States Wholesale Nursery

BRAKELIGHTS RED YUCCA
(Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Perpa’ Brakelights®)



New Versions of Old Faves

BRAKELIGHTS RED YUCCA
(Hesperaloe parviflora ‘Perpa’ Brakelights®)

Type: Succulent

Elevation: Low, mid; hardy to -20 degrees F

Blooms: Red; spring and fall (low elevations); summer (mid elevations)

Size: 2'H by 2'W

Soil: Any with good drainage

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Drought tolerant

Maintenance: Remove spent flower stalks.

Attracts: Bees, butterflies, hummingbirds

Note: Tall flower stalks seldom set seeds, so the plant continues to bloom for many months.

Why we like it: The “brakelights” red flower stalks provide more arresting color than the rosy-coral flowers that characterize the species. Its compact size suits varied landscape situations and also makes it a nice fit for containers.


Photo by Brian Lilley

CASCALOTE ‘SMOOTHIE’
(Caesalpinia cacalaco ‘Smoothie’)
CASCALOTE ‘SMOOTHIE’
(Caesalpinia cacalaco ‘Smoothie’)


Type: Tree

Elevation: Low; hardy to 20 degrees F

Blooms: Yellow; winter

Size: 15-18'H by 15-18'W

Soil: Well drained

Light: Full and reflected sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Light pruning is required to shape as a patio tree.

Attracts: Hummingbirds

Note: Psyllids, tiny sap-sucking insects, may appear in spring, producing tell-tale honeydew residue on foliage. Hose off insects and honeydew with water as needed. Do not spray insecticides, which kill beneficial insects that consume psyllids.

Why we like it: ‘Smoothie’ is a thornless version of the popular cascalote tree. Its bright flower spikes at branch tips and copper-colored seedpods add cool-season interest in the landscape.


Photo by Cathy Cromell

SPINELESS PRICKLY PEAR
(Opuntia cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’)
SPINELESS PRICKLY PEAR
(Opuntia cacanapa ‘Ellisiana’)


Type: Cactus

Elevation: Low, mid, high; hardy to 0 degrees F

Blooms: Yellow; summer

Size: 3-4'H by 6'W

Soil: Good drainage

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Low to moderate

Maintenance: None

Attracts: Hummingbirds and native bees (flowers); birds (fruits)

Note: This prickly pear tolerates both heat and cold.

Why we like it: Prickly pears are low-maintenance cacti that spread readily to create a wildlife habitat. This variety has no spines or glochids (hair-like bristles) to plague humans. After flowering, its attractive blue-green pads are loaded with edible red fruits, sometimes called tunas.


Photo by Kirti Mathura

PENSTEMON ‘RED-HEADED BEAUTY’
(Penstemon ‘Red Headed Beauty’)
PENSTEMON ‘RED-HEADED BEAUTY’
(Penstemon ‘Red Headed Beauty’)


Type: Perennial

Elevation: Low, mid; hardy to 12 degrees F

Blooms: Purplish-red to deep fuchsia pink; spring

Size: 2-5'H by 2-5'W

Soil: Requires excellent drainage; no clay

Light: Full sun to partial shade

Water needs: Low to moderate

Maintenance: Remove spent flower stalks.

Attracts: Hummingbirds

Note: Introduced by Tohono Chul Park in Tucson, this hybrid is a cross between three desert penstemon species: (P. palmeri x parryi) x superbus.

Why we like it: Flowers larger than any of its parents’ blooms are dramatically displayed on multiple stalks that stretch up to 5'H. Plants are vigorous and long-lived.

Other Favorites: Opuntia gomei ‘Old Mexico’; Pike’s Peak penstemon (Penstemon x mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak’); rock penstemon (P. baccharifolius ‘Diablo’); thornless Sonoran Emerald palo verde
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