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3 Bold, Blooming Desert Flowers That Make a Statement

“Mother nature puts on a great crescendo of spring blooms during April and May,” says Phoenix Home & Garden Masters of the Southwest award-winning landscape architect Greg Trutza. “Many of the flowering trees and shrubs explode with a bounty of blooms for pollination and seed set. The sheer abundance and diversity of blooming plants is a reason to celebrate!”

Here, Trutza shares his insights on plants that make beautiful focal accents ideally suited to Valley landscapes.

OKLAHOMA REDBUD

(Cercis reniformis ‘Oklahoma’)
The Oklahoma redbud is a drought-tolerant multitrunk, deciduous tree featuring silver-gray branches with thick rounded, glossy leaves. “When it blooms, it’s spectacular,” Trutza says. Cuttings can also make a dramatic interior decor accent. “You can force the branches to bloom indoors by cutting them when they begin to bud, just as the fuchsia color starts to appear along the branches.”

PLANT FACTS:

SIZE: 15′-20′ tall and wide
BLOOMS: Masses of magenta flowers
WATER NEEDS: Prefers moist soil; place near lawns or other mass plantings
ELEVATION: USDA Zones 9-12
ATTRACTS: Butterflies, bees, birds
SOIL: Well-drained, acid, alkaline, neutral
LIGHT: Full sun to part shade
MAINTENANCE: Minimal; will keep its domed canopy without pruning.

GROUND MORNING GLORY

(Convolvulus sabatius ssp. Mauritanicus)
This evergreen ground cover thrives in Phoenix landscapes, bursting into a showy blanket of light blue to lavender flowers spring through summer. “I love to have it cascade over retainer walls or raised beds but it is equally stunning as a low-growing mound in front borders,” raves Trutza. This fast-grower makes a showy statement in bloom or as a soft mound of round gray-green leaves, which contrast well with other desert plantings.

For more information, see  Sources.

PLANT FACTS:

SIZE: 9″H by 3’W
BLOOMS: Funnel-shaped flowers, spring through summer
WATER NEEDS: Drought-tolerant, prefers moist soil occasionally
ELEVATION: USDA Zones 7-9
ATTRACTS: Butterflies, bees
SOIL: Well-drained acidic, alkaline or neutral
LIGHT: Full sun to part shade
MAINTENANCE: Minimal pruning to contain area of growth. Can be semi-deciduous in colder locations.

RED OR PINK POWDER PUFF

(Calliandra haematocephala)
A source of delight for both hummingbirds and gardeners when it blooms, the evergreen Calliandra boasts colorful red or pink globes that measure
2 inches in diameter. Originating in the tropics and adapted to dry subtropical climates, this plant can be damaged by extreme freezes but will grow back in summer months. “This versatile showstopper matures to a 15-foot multitrunk specimen,” Trutza says, “or even be trained to be espaliered against a wall.”

PLANT FACTS:

SIZE: 11′-15′ tall and wide
BLOOMS: Spring through summer
WATER NEEDS: Moderate
ELEVATION: USDA Zones 9-12
ATTRACTS: Butterflies, bees
SOIL: Well-drained
LIGHT: Full sun to partial shade
MAINTENANCE: Occasional pruning if in proximity to other shrubs. Remove spent blossoms.

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