Plant Spotlight

Plant Spotlight: Texas Ranger

Texas Rangers are a welcome respite during the dog days of summer. Referred to as barometer plants, Rangers blooms occur with high humidity and rain. When this happens, the plants are covered with purple or magenta flowers.
tx ranger
Photos by Stacy Doolittle
A native of the Chihuahuan Desert and other locales in Texas, Leucophyllum frutescens is a powerhouse of a shrub for Morongo Basin gardens. When young, hungry rabbits can find this sage appealing, so cage it in hardware cloth for protection. Once mature, it is ignored by foragers. Here is a handy guide (pdf) to the different varieties, which you can buy at big box stores and local nurseries. 
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Plant Spotlight: Desert Willow

close up of Desert Willow tree
Photos by Stacy Doolittle

Willow-like in appearance, the Desert Willow (Chilopsis linearis) is actually a catalpa tree, hence its other name: Desert Catalpa. No matter what you call it, this tree is ideal for Morongo Basin landscapes. Attributes such as fast growth, heat tolerance, ease of care, and drought adaptation make it a desirable addition to the water-wise garden. It can be pruned into a shrub or allowed to grow into a tree. 

 

Desert Willow tree in public garden

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Plant Spotlight: Sugar Bush

A workhorse of a shrub for Morongo Basin gardens is the native Sugar Bush (Rhus ovata). Use this plant as a windbreak, for hedging or by itself as a specimen plant. It enjoys full sun and plenty of space to spread out. 

 

Young Sugar Bush in 29 Palms, CA. Photo by Cole Gibson
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Plant Spotlight: Mojave Aster

A delightful native wildflower for Morongo Basin is the Mojave Aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia).  Featuring pale purple daisy-like flowers, Mojave Aster blooms from March to May in our area. After flowering, it often dies back but will return the next year. 
mojave aster creative commons image
Creative Commons Generic 2.0 License, Tom Hilton photo
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Plant Spotlight: Cleveland Sage

A spectacular blue-flowered sage, Cleveland sage (Salvia clevelandii) is native to the Southern California coast and Baja. This highly-aromatic plant is a fast grower and a spring bloomer (dried blooms are showy throughout the year). Showcase this plant either by itself as a specimen plant, or create groupings in the landscape. Allow room for this plant when siting as it gets larger. 
close up of Cleveland sage flowers
Photo by Stacy Doolittle
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Plant Spotlight: Rosemary

Rosemary (Rosemary spp.) is native to the dry, rocky areas of the Mediterranean, yet it performs so well in our climate that we consider it a "desert-wise" plant and worthy of the spotlight.
 
rosemary clipped
Clipped rosemary in Yucca Valley,CA. Photo by Heather Sommerfield
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Plant Spotlight: Brittlebush

This fast growing desert native is a favorite among gardeners in the Morongo Basin and it is easy to see why. Brittlebush's (Encelia farinosa) grey leaves offset its profusion of yellow daisy-like flowers in a mounding habit. It has a long bloom cycle if given enough water. But not too much water as it is a true desert native and is used to an arid environment. 
Photo by Stacy Doolittle
 
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Plant Spotlight: Desert or Rush Milkweed

We love the structural quality of Desert or Rush Milkweed (Asclepias subulata) in the garden. This plant thrives in all Morongo Basin elevations (hardy to 10-20 Fahrenheit). Can tolerate some shade. 
 
flowering desert milkweed
Photo courtesy of Stacy Doolittle
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