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For The Garden

Desert Blooms of Green

Author: Lori A. Johnson
Issue: October, 2017, Page 126
Photo by Michael Wolf
NYLON HEDGEHOG CACTUS
(Echinocereus viridiflorus)

Type: Succulent

Blooms: Green; spring or early summer

Size: 3-12"H by 2-6"W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy

Elevations: All

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Water only when dry in summer to avoid rot; keep drier during winter dormancy.

Attracts: Bees

Note: This hardy plant’s native habitat ranges from Mexico to South Dakota, at elevations up to 9,000 feet. It is cold-resistant to 0 degrees for short periods.

Why we like it: A small flowering cactus available in a number of subspecies and with spines in a variety of colors, nylon hedgehog makes a unique addition to container gardens. It can be easily propagated by seeds
or cuttings.




CHILEAN PUYA
(Puya chilensis)     

Type: Perennial

Blooms: Green; spring

Size: 6-15'H by 4-10'W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy

Elevations: Low, middle

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Water during summer growing season, but hold back on supplemental water during winter months.

Attracts: Bees and birds

Note: A native of Chile, this large, slow-growing bromeliad may take 15 to 20 years to bloom and produces flower spikes as tall as 6 feet. Due to its relatively high flammability, it may not be suitable for areas that are prone to wildfires.

Why we like it: The puya’s towering neon spikes can produce hundreds of nectar-rich blooms with bright orange anthers for dramatic contrast. Other species of puya are known for their unusual teal-colored flowers.




HAIRY GREEN ALOE
(Aloe tomentosa)

Type: Succulent

Blooms: Green; late summer

Size: 2-3'H by 3-4'W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy

Elevations: Low, middle

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: In hotter climates, plant in an area with afternoon shade; if grown in containers, move indoors during winter dormancy. To avoid rot, do not overwater.

Attracts: Bees and hummingbirds

Note: Unlike many other popular winter-blooming aloes, this Arabian Peninsula native is dormant in the cool season and sends up its flower spikes in late summer.

Why we like it: The hairy green aloe’s unique chartreuse flowers are soft and woolly to the touch. It makes an excellent xeriscape specimen or container plant.




STAPELIA
(Stapelia flavopurpurea)

Type: Succulent

Blooms: Green; summer to fall

Size: 2-6"H by 3-6"W

Soil: Well-drained, sandy soils

Elevation: Low

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: In winter, avoid watering and protect from frost.

Attracts: Flies and pollinators

Note: This winter-dormant succulent is easily propagated by laying stem cuttings on the surface of a gritty potting medium topped by a layer of sand or pumice.

Why we like it: Ideal for small containers, this succulent produces tiny green starfish-shaped flowers. Unlike other species of stapelia that smell like carrion, this species produces a sweet scent similar to beeswax, licorice or honey.


Other Favorites: Teddy bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii), butterfly vine (Mascagnia macroptera), Mexican passionflower (Passiflora mexicana), antelope horn milkweed (Asclepias asperula), puya (Puya mirabilis), Mojave milkweed (A. nyctaginifolia), silver spurge (Euphorbia rigida)
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