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
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
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
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
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?
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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’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
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
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 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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
November 9, 2017
Easy-to-grow organ pipe cactus
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
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
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
October 20, 2017
Peruvian Apple Cactus and its tempting fruit
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
October 9, 2017
Purple Texas Sage
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.