April 20, 2019

Good combinations of plants will pay dividends in your landscape

Just because your local climate doesn’t get a lot of rain doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a beautiful, drought-tolerant landscape. The good news is that you can create a beautiful outdoor living environment.

All it takes is applying the right design principles, along with a little ingenuity and creative thinking. Read all about how my inexpensive xeriscape is getting better every year, and how you can make your own good plant combinations.

March 9, 2019

Brittlebush makes my landscape look like the beautiful Sonoran Desert

I admit it — I love the desert. That’s why I include native desert plants in my landscape. It makes me feel like I’m right in the middle of all that natural beauty

To enhance that naturalized feeling in my landscape, I recently added a beautiful brittlebush. It has abundant, beautiful, daisy-like flowers for much of the year.

In addition, the brittlebush has many other benefits. Read all about those benefits, and why you should consider the brittlebush for your drought-tolerant landscape.

November 14, 2018

Earthworm castings have solved lots of problems for my landscape plants

During the hot early summer months, my agave plants had suffered from a persistent insect pest.

In fact, this pest had killed my favorite Weber’s agave. By the time I had discovered what was happening, it was too late to save the plant. The plant had withered up and died after being eaten from the inside.

That’s what compelled me to search for an organic solution to repel insects. Well, earthworm excrement was that solution. Read about my surprisingly positive experiences with earthworm castings.

November 4, 2018

I have to control my Texas mountain laurels and their persistent pests

The pests I’m talking about are the genista caterpillars, which might also be known as the Sophora worm.

Personally, I don’t like the idea of a “worm” crawling on my Texas mountain laurels and eating its leaves, so I’ll stick with the caterpillar designation.

No matter the term, I’ve found that it’s pretty easy to control this pest. While the three steps I cover are simple, this caterpillar requires constant monitoring. They can have multiple generations in a season from multiple moth mothers, so we must remain vigilant.

October 30, 2018

I dissected a flower to understand its anatomy

Flowers are so beautiful on the outside, and just like each of us, they’re beautiful on the inside, too.

Since I was a child, I always wanted to understand how ‘things’ worked. During my insatiably curious younger years, I took apart clocks and toasters to ‘figure it out.’ Today, I’m still interested in how man-made artifacts work, but I’m even more interested in our natural world.

Flowers, especially, seem so beguiling to me. They’re beautiful, fragrant, and are the precursor to the fruits and vegetables that many plants give us. To ‘figure out’ flowers, I dissected one and examined its anatomy. It was an interesting and revealing process that I think you’ll be interested in.

October 14, 2018

The Russian sage is an award-winning perennial plant

My guess is that the awards are because this aromatic and beautiful plant is so easy to grow.

When I lived in southern New Mexico, I used Russian sage throughout my drought-tolerant landscape. It thrived during the summer heat and even survived single digit winter temperatures. Read about my experiences when I learned how to grow Russian sage.

Now that I live in southern Arizona, the summers are even hotter. I don’t know if my newly planted Russian sage will survive the heat. I’ll post an update in about a year — by then, I’ll know if my Russian sage can be a perennial plant in the hot, low-altitude desert in southern Arizona.

September 20, 2018

What the heck is a Mexican fence post cactus?

When I think of a Mexican fence post cactus, my mind conjures up many images.

Of course, I think of the beautiful country of Mexico and its beautiful people. Then, I think of a fence and a post that might be used to control cattle, or provide a barrier. All those things might be true of this unique cactus, but it has many other characteristics, too.

Read all about the Mexican fence post cactus, and how you might use it in your landscape.

September 19, 2018

Problems and solutions for my Mexican fence post cactus

I’m new to growing the Mexican fence post cactus. They’re a beautiful cactus variety that looks striking in any xeriscape

However, I’ve had a couple of problems with my young Mexican fence posts. Throughout the summer, my newest one showed signs of stress. To remedy the situation, and keep my cactus alive, I tried some solutions. Read all about my problems and solutions for my Mexican fence post cactus.

August 16, 2018

Some inconsiderate bugs killed my agave!

A group of sneaky and pesky agave snout weevils killed my agave. Before they did, they used my favorite agave as a shelter where they ate, slept, and procreated. Now, that’s rude!

Throughout the summer, my agave was giving me signs that it was being invaded. Unfortunately, by the time I realized what was happening, my beautiful plant was dying. Read all the signs I missed at first, and how you can prevent this weevil from attacking your agaves.

August 8, 2018

Columnar cacti are easy to propagate!

I love all columnar cacti. They add dynamic height to any landscape. I especially love my Peruvian apple cactus. In fact, I wanted to have more of those spectacular plants in other areas of my landscape.

So, all I did was cut off a couple stems, and planted them in the ground. That’s it! It was so easy to propagate my columnar cactus.

June 22, 2018

The American century plant makes lots of pups, and they are easy to transplant

In my landscape, I started with one century plant that I bought at the local DIY big box retailer. Now, I have at least 10 larger century plants, and each are producing offshoots.

Lately, I’ve had to throw out the pups I dig up because I’m running out of space to plant them. However, I think I will plant one in a spare ceramic pot. That way, I can enjoy a century plant inside my office.

June 21, 2018

Easily propagate your favorite cactus for your apartment, house, or landscape

The best part of this propagation process is that it is cheap and easy, just like me. After you follow this process, you’ll soon have so many cacti in containers and your landscape, you’ll have to give them away.

Or, maybe you can sell you new cactus plant cuttings on eBay. Of course, you should wait until they develop roots. Thankfully, the propagation process is so easy, anyone can do it.

June 13, 2018

The paper spine cactus has a uniquely odd look, and its flowers are uncommonly beautiful

There are two important factors to include to get your paper spine cactus to produce flowers.

The factors are easy to include for your outdoor paper spine cactus, and also easy to incorporate into your container-bound plant.

May 27, 2018

Paper spine cactus reminds me of an alien from outer space

This unique cactus specimen gets especially interesting as the days warm. That’s when new growth emerges. As they poke their heads out of their mature mother-segment, they remind me of space aliens.

They’ve got pointy antennas that will turn into long, white papery spines as they mature. Read all about the easy-to-grow paper spine cactus. Maybe you could grow one in a container or your landscape, too.

May 21, 2018

The menacing spines on a Canary Island date palm tree can be dangerous

If you’re considering this majestic date palm tree for your landscape, just remember it has nasty-looking spines. I mean, they are pretty trees, but the spines can be downright deadly.

Despite the potential danger, I have two smaller Canary Island date palms in my landscape. They are beautiful trees.

I had a third, mature specimen, but I sold it. The tree just got too big for me to safely prune. The ones I have now will outlive me. In the meantime, I will continue to prune them every year. And, to be safe, I will wear my safety goggles and protective gloves.

May 6, 2018

Trailing lantana stands up to summer heat

Your trailing lantana will stand up to the hottest summer heat and still produce beautiful flowers even while your other plants wilt.

I love using trailing lantana as an accent plant for my spiny agaves and tough cacti. No matter where you live and what you climate might be, trailing lantana will be a stunning annual or perennial plant in your landscape.

May 5, 2018

Cereus Peruvianus Monstrose is a cool cactus

I’ve seen a mature, monstrous Monstrose cactus that was amazingly large. It had what looked-to-me like hundreds of arms, and each one twisted as it competed to grow faster than its other arms.

This is an easy-to-grow columnar cactus that will be a unique and eye-catching addition to your landscape or container.

April 28, 2018

The praying mantid (mantis) and its short, dangerous life cycle

Maybe it is this insect’s large eyes, and the way it cocks its head as it studies us human beings. Or, maybe it’s the calm, polite, and all-knowing way this insect poses, almost as if it is deep in prayer with its creator. No matter what it is, I am obsessively interested in the life cycle of the praying mantid (mantis).

Read more about the praying mantid’s short life cycle, its dangers, and how it helps us get rid of nuisance bugs in our gardens and landscapes.

April 21, 2018

The prickly pear opuntia cacti family fits most landscapes

Even when I lived in cold and wet Pennsylvania, I had a prickly pear cactus. Of course, Pennsylvania has hot summers, too. It just shows you that no matter where you are, you might see a prickly pear cactus!

Read all about the prickly pear cacti group of plants. They are beautiful, have striking flowers, and are beautiful accent plants in any landscape.

April 15, 2018

Don’t fear the jumping cholla, otherwise known as the teddy bear cholla

Some of the most fearsome-looking plants in the desert can also be some of the most beautiful-looking plants in your landscape. The teddy bear cholla is one of those scary-looking, but also beautiful cacti varieties that will be a unique addition to your xeriscape.

Read all about the teddy bear cholla. This cactus has unique characteristics. It is one of those iconic-looking plants that belong in your xeriscape.

April 5, 2018

Torch cacti come with a wide variety of flower colors

Since I’ve lived in the southwest, I’ve included many hybrid varieties of the torch cactus in my landscapes.

No matter where you live in the world, you should grow a torch cactus. Most varieties grow outside, but depending on your winter temps, they might need extra protection.

Plus, they are spectacular plants for a larger container. Your torch cactus will reward you with its unique growth and spectacular flowers.

March 22, 2018

Desert lavender can add a relaxing fragrance to your landscape

Desert Lavender is easy-to-grow and drought-tolerant. Plus, it has a heavenly fragrance.

Please read about all the delightful characteristics of this under-utilized plant. It’s got lots of benefits and no drawbacks for your landscape.

March 18, 2018

Pups from an agave plant can be the beginning of a beautiful relationship

Agave plants can survive almost anything — drought, heat, and neglect. As a gardener, I am great with the neglect part. Agave pups are equally tough.

Read about how easy it is to separate agave pups from their parent plant, and then transplant them to another location. Soon, you can have a large grouping of beautiful and interesting agave plants.

March 6, 2018

The Spanish lavender is drought- and heat-tolerant

I love the uniquely-shaped flowers and their vibrant purple color. The Spanish lavender contrasts beautifully with yellow daisies.

I’ve grown Spanish lavender in southern New Mexico where winter nights dipped into the single digits. It survived, and as things warmed up, it thrived. My hope is that this lavender will survive Phoenix, Arizona’s blistering summer heat. Time will tell.

February 18, 2018

Plant an easy-to-grow senna in your drought-tolerant landscape

The silver leaf cassia, or senna, is a unique bush to include in your landscape.

I like how its light, airy leaves contrast with different cacti in my xeriscape. Read all the reasons you should plant a senna.

February 8, 2018

This cold-tolerant palm tree adds a lush tropical feel even in cold hardiness zones

The windmill palm tree is cold-tolerant, heat-tolerant, and one of the easiest palm trees to grow.

Read more about the windmill palm and its growing requirements.

February 6, 2018

The Desert Cassia shrub fits well in any landscape, xeriscape, or pot!

This tough shrub produces beautiful, bountiful flowers. Its wispy, feathery foliage balances well with cacti, agaves, and other drought-tolerant plants.

This is one of the easiest plants I have grown. Read more about the Desert Cassia and why you’ll love having one for yourself.

February 2, 2018

If you love flowers, you will definitely love this daisy!

The golden shrub daisy is an easy-to-grow plant that will add dynamic color and texture to your landscape.

Depending on your local climate, the golden shrub daisy might only be an annual. Or, it may reward you year-after-year with perennial flowers. Read more about this beautiful daisy.

February 1, 2018

Darn it! I made some mistakes when I planted my pygmy date palms

Despite my embarrassment, I had to admit that I made some errors when I planted my pygmy date palm trees.

I am hopeful that the easy-to-implement remedies will ensure a long life for my pygmy date palm trees.

January 28, 2018

The fruit from the devil’s tongue barrel cactus tastes good

The flowers from this fishhook barrel cactus bloom for a long time. Then, if the pollinators did their job, the fruits will produce seeds and tasty pulp.

While there are some cactus fruits that I don’t care for, I love the fruit from this fishhook barrel cactus. Read more about this beautiful-looking cactus, its bright purple flowers, and its burgundy-colored fruit.

January 4, 2018

You’ll love your new Mediterranean fan palm tree for many reasons

I love the shape of this diminutive palm tree and its family of offshoots.

You might like that it loves lots of heat, and can stand up to cold temperatures. Read more about the Mediterranean fan palm tree and why you’d love it so much!

January 2, 2018

Your new pygmy date palm tree will make your landscape feel like a tropical island paradise

Best of all, your pygmy date palm tree can be grown in a pot as a house plant, or outdoors in your landscape.

This diminutive, tropical palm tree has leaves that will gently sway with the wind. With this palm tree in your home or landscape, you might just imagine yourself on an enchanted tropical island. Read more about how to grow this beautiful palm tree.

December 6, 2017

It is easy to plant a Canary Island date palm tree in your landscape

All you need is a shovel, deep bucket or wheel barrow, some fertilizer, and a small and inexpensive Canary Island date palm tree.

There is no need to spend lots of money for a larger Canary Island date palm tree. They can be hundreds of dollars and difficult to transport to your landscape. Plus, these palm trees grow fast, so if you don’t need instant gratification, you can save hundreds of dollars.

December 5, 2017

Despite its name, the Agave horrida is a beautiful plant

While strolling through my local big box DIY store, a dangerous-looking agave caught my eye.

It had beautiful green leaves. On the edges or margins of the leaves were large, sharp-looking spines. Read more about my experiences with the Agave horrida and how it did in the record-breaking Arizona summer.

December 3, 2017

The dwarf variegated butterfly agave is a diminutive beauty

I don’t remember how much this Agave potatorum ‘kichiokan marginata’ cost, but it was worth every penny. I love its small size and how it contrasts beautifully with larger agaves.

The leaves are variegated with a beautiful blue, yellow, and white. Its spines deepen to a blood-red hue as the leaves age. Plus, the pups are cute as they stay tucked in close to their parent agave.

Read more about this agave, and then try it out with your succulents or other potted plants.

November 26, 2017

The Pythium pathogen rotted my golden barrel cactus from the inside-out

First I saw a yellow patch on my golden barrel cactus. Then, it turned brown and slowly spread. I loved this old cactus and would hate to see it go.

But, the Pythium pathogen did not care about my feelings. It slowly rotted my golden barrel’s roots, then spread into the dense white flesh that was behind the hard, green outer skin. For the sake of my other golden barrels, I had to get rid of this one. Ironically, it was my favorite golden barrel.

I guess that’s life — sometimes life is a pain.

November 25, 2017

My toothpick cactus will grow tall and be a focal point

The toothpick cactus is evocative of the great southwestern United States spirit of adventure and freedom. Plus, it has really long spines!

Just put the Argentine toothpick, as it is sometimes called, in a sunny and dry location. Soon it will grow arms, and later it will bear flowers and fruit. Grow it outside, or inside in a pot or other container. You will be happy you did.

November 11, 2017

4 things you must know about the century plant

While I love the distinctive look of my century plant, this agave does have some drawbacks. It’s best to keep those things in mind as you place the century plant in your landscape.

This agave gets huge. It is one of the biggest agaves you will likely grow. While the Weber’s agave and blue agave come close to its large size, they cannot compete with the century plant.

November 9, 2017

Easy-to-grow organ pipe cactus

I have only had my organ pipe cactus for a couple of years, but it has tripled in size. It grows fast.

Despite living in Phoenix, Arizona, I still have to protect this cactus from freezing temperatures. That’s why it only grows naturally in southwest Arizona, parts of northwest Mexico, and Baja Mexico. This cactus needs sun and protection from frost.

If you live in other parts of the world, however, the organ pipe cactus would make a fantastic houseplant. Just order your cactus through the mail, put it in a beautiful pot, and watch it grow!

November 3, 2017

Amend your soil with coffee grounds

Every single day I end up with used coffee grounds. Instead of throwing them out in the trash, I started adding them to my soil.

Here in southern Arizona, my soil can get hard as concrete. Since I’ve been adding my used coffee grounds to the perimeters of my xeriscape plants, their roots have become robust. And, healthy roots mean a robust, drought-tolerant plant in my xeriscape!

October 29, 2017

Blue Agave is a work of art

My blue agave is a symmetrical work of art. It is growing fast and in a few more years will be a showcase plant in my xeriscape.

In Mexico, farmers grow this agave for the starches and sugars that are fermented into tequila. When I was younger, I tried tequila a few times. As I remember, I did not care for the taste very much. Now that I have aged and hopefully my tastes have matured, I might find tequila more appealing. I guess I will never know unless I give it another shot.

Either way, I love my blue agave plant — it gets better every year!

October 25, 2017

5 reasons you should grow an Aloe Vera plant

The Aloe vera succulent plant is an excellent starter plant for a new gardener. They are tough and will survive neglect. Above all, they are beautiful!

I started with one little plant that my neighbors donated to me. Now, I have many clumps that are still producing little pups. Soon, maybe I will have to give some of my Aloe vera plants away, too.

October 20, 2017

Peruvian Apple Cactus and its tempting fruit

The Peruvian Apple Cactus has flowers that tempt pollinators. This columnar cactus also has sweet, exotic fruit that tempts man, woman, and bird alike.

When the fruits on my Peruvian Cactus Apple ripen, I have to beat the birds to the grand prize. The fruit is sweet-tasting but subtle. I love their delicious pulp, and I even eat the outer skin.

October 16, 2017

My Prickly Pear Opuntia cactus and the cochineal bug

My prickly pear opuntia cactus has been attacked by the cochineal bug.

In fact, it looks like an infestation. The solutions should be simple, though. Then, my prickly pear opuntia cactus can live its life to its fullest potential again.

October 9, 2017

Purple Texas Sage

The Purple Texas Sage is a drought-tolerant and heat-loving Texas native plant.

It might be one of the easiest plants to successfully grow — at least for me. Like most Texas Sages, the purple variety requires little water and no fertilizer. Just show up to admire the cloud of flowers and maybe prune now and then. That’s it! It’s a great addition to any xeriscape.

October 8, 2017

Fishhook barrel cactus

The fishhook barrel cactus provides sharp, strong hooks for any angler.

Most importantly, those fishhook spines help deter predators who would love to nibble on some cactus flesh. I felt safe putting my new fishhook barrel cactus in the front of my house. I new there would be no rabbit willing to risk serious injury just to take a bite.

October 7, 2017

Butterflies, hummingbirds, and the Wooly Butterfly Bush

The Wooly Butterfly Bush will attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your drought-tolerant landscape.

This a unique drought-tolerant plant that is easy to grow. It’s a perfect addition to any xeriscape because it is drought-tolerant and loves the heat.

October 2, 2017

The beautiful White Cloud Texas Sage

I love the beauty and hardiness of the White Cloud Texas Sage.

This outstanding shrub is a great addition to your xeriscape. The White Cloud is drought-tolerant, cold-tolerant, along with being deer- and rabbit-resistant. To top it off, the White Cloud rewards us with a white cloud of flowers.

September 28, 2017

4 reasons I love the Soaptree Yucca in my xeriscape

The Soaptree Yucca is another icon of the Old, Wild West. It’s also a hardy plant that is easy for any person to grow.

Besides adding a unique focal point or accent to any landscape, the Soaptree Yucca is drought-tolerant and cold-tolerant. It’s found in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts, and captures the interest of people from around the world.

September 26, 2017

My growing Saguaro Cactus

The Saguaro Cactus is the icon of the Old West. That’s why I wanted one for my xeriscape. I bought mine at a Phoenix, Arizona Lowe’s. They had dozens of small saguaros for sale. Sure, saguaros grow slow, but they’re still interesting and pretty to look at.

September 19, 2017

My Paper Spine Cactus

A cactus with menacing-looking, but harmless spines sounds perfect. It is perfect — it’s the Paper Spine Cactus.

This cactus is an interesting addition to any xeriscape. Just like most cacti, the Paper Spine Cactus is drought-tolerant and does best with only a little water.

September 18, 2017

Drought-tolerant Desert Spoon

Read about the drought-tolerant Desert Spoon. This tough plant can handle lots of heat, cold overnight temperatures, and a deluge of monsoon rain.

The Desert Spoon, or Sotol, is a great addition to any xeriscape. Watch out for the spines, though. They can be nasty!

September 9, 2017

The Weber’s Agave is my favorite agave plant

The Weber’s Agave is one of the most beautiful agaves. Discover what I love about this agave that makes it so appealing.

Of course, it is drought-tolerant. And, I appreciate that it gives lots of runners or offshoots. This can grow to be a big agave, so give it enough room.

September 8, 2017

Too much water can kill a Variegated Century Plant

I’ve tried growing a Variegated Century Plant a few times. Each time I was unsuccessful. However, I’ve finally figured out what I was doing wrong.

The Variegated Century Plant is an ornately-colored relative of the regular Century Plant. It’s one of the largest-growing agaves, and I love it. All agaves are drought-tolerant and perfect in a xeriscape.

August 31, 2017

5 reasons I love my Vitex tree

Here are the 5 reasons I love my Vitex tree in hot Phoenix, Arizona.

Some of the reasons are that the Vitex blooms for three seasons, and the tree especially loves the hot summer days. My tree is only 2-1/2 years old, but already it has distinctive bark and shape. The bees loves the flowers as much as I do.

August 30, 2017

Red Bird of Paradise loves summer heat

The Red Bird of Paradise gives any landscape a lush, exotic vibe. Plus, it thrives in the summer heat.

In Phoenix, Arizona, we had a couple summer days that hit 120 degrees, and maybe a little higher. The heat jump-started my Red Bird of Paradise, which was already blooming. Two months later, we still have above-average degrees of 108 or so. The Red Bird of Paradise loves the heat.

August 2, 2017

5 reasons to xeriscape your landscape

Xeriscaping adds beauty, value, and function to your landscape design.

By using drought-tolerant native plants you can dramatically reduce your monthly water bill. Add in some boulders, rocks, agaves, flowering plants, and your xeriscape will have beautiful curb appeal.

July 21, 2017

Cactus flowers attract pollinators

Beautiful, show-stopping cactus flowers are designed to attract their specialized pollinators.

Many cactus flowers are large, and all have beautiful colors that somehow complement the cactus plant. Above all, cactus flowers attract pollinators who ensure there are hundreds and even thousands of fertilized seeds.

July 20, 2017

Argentine Giant Cactus with its spectacular flowers

The Argentine Giant Cactus has a beautiful flower that only lasts for 24 hours.

It grows about 3 feet tall, with smaller pups sprouting out all around the base of the main cactus arm. This is an easy-to-grow cactus. It has so far survived 122 degree summer days in Phoenix, Arizona.