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PLANTING FOR YEAR-ROUND INTEREST

Lake Havasu Master Gardner

Dottie Holman is a Lake Havasu City Master Gardener Emeritus

Fall, winter, and spring are all about enjoying our beautiful outdoor weather.  As gardeners, the itch to dig in the dirt is satisfied during the seasons before our boiling summer.  Plants thrive with our cooler temperatures during these months, allowing them to set their roots prior to our summer season.  Let’s look at how to obtain more year around color to your landscape.

One of the first things to do is to see what “gaps” are now showing in your landscape from our hot summer.  Note where these gaps are located and analyze what could have caused these plants to expire (extreme reflected heat, sun exposure or too much or too little water?).  It is important to know this so you can correctly determine what to plant in these areas.  Take this as an opportunity to “redecorate” your landscape and add intrigue.

Now is an excellent time for planning for “year-round interest.” In other words, note what plants you have in your landscape surrounding the gaps and what seasonal interests those plants contribute to the landscape such as foliage, color, blooms, fragrance, fruits, textures, or other characteristics. Then decide what plants would bring additional color or texture to your landscape while the surrounding established plants are dormant.

When making these plant choices consider the plants requirements for sun exposure (full, partial, shade), height and width at maturity, cold hardiness, water requirements and foliage.  Roadways, swimming pools, utility wires, overhangs and existing tree canopies are elements that need attention so future problems do not occur.

Here are some suggestions of trees and shrubs that can add interest and color in one of our four seasons.

Spring: Mesquite, Palo Verde, Arizona Rosewood and Purple Orchid are trees that have their bloom time in the spring.  Also, Bush Morning Glory, Desert Hackberry, Globe Mallow, Lady Banks Rose and most cacti are springtime bloomers.

Summer: Chaste tree and Desert Willow trees are summer bloomers. Mexican Bird of Paradise, Baja Fairy Duster, Lantana, Firecracker Bush and Guayacan are shrubs that enjoy the heat and bloom throughout the summer.

Fall: Silk Floss tree, Golden Senna, Turpentine Bush bring in the fall colors.

Winter: Sweet Acacia tree, Cascalote tree along with Emu bush, Feathery Cassia, Black Dalea and Texas Mountain Laurel can add color in the winter months.

Year around color: Willow Acacia tree, Cape Honeysuckle, Mexican Honeysuckle, Chinese Hibiscus, Orange/Yellow Bells, Shrimp plant and Bougainvillea are continual bloomers throughout the year.

All the plants that are listed above are low water-wise plants and adapt well to our soil and climate.  Remember, even the most drought tolerant plants require some regular watering during the first year or two.  A booklet published by the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association entitled “Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert” is available through the Lake Havasu City Master Gardeners.  The plant guide of over 200 trees, shrubs, vines, groundcovers, cacti and succulents for the low desert is available through the master gardeners.  This guide shows the following for each plant: its water needs, cold hardiness, sun exposure, growth, foliage, flowering period and special comments concerning the plant.  It is a must have for any gardener and is at no cost to you.  A searchable database is also available online at www.amwua.org/plants.

Happy Planting!

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