Hardenbergia – Desert Lilac Vine

Hardenbergia close view

In the Sonoran Desert this is a transition time of year as we are moving from the cooler winter weather where the temperatures can be relatively low to the warmer daytime temperatures of mid-to-high seventies. This year it seems as though we have been breaking records with temps in the eighties already; yikes!

This has encouraged our Hardenbergia vine (Purple Vine Lilac) to put on quite a show. The wet winter without a frost and the warmer temperatures have our plant strutting her early spring finery!

Late afternoon hardenbergia spray with beee

The late afternoon picture (above) shows that the bees (upper left-ish) enjoy this plant as well.

What makes this post extra sweet for me is that this particular plant was a box store rescue. They had it on a discount table for $1. Of course it looked nothing like its current self and was a leaf or two away from the compost heap!

The photo below is one of my favorite (even though the shallow depth of field has only some of the plant in focus) because the bright yellow anthers look like little eyes and with a bit of imagination, I can see a face in some of these small flowers.

Another close view of the hardenbergia

Hardenbergia originates in Australia and likes to dry out between waterings which is well suited for the desert landscape with just a bit of extra care. It is often used as a ground cover down under, but with the critters we have in the desert, we don’t need to create more hiding places!

Here is a picture of the complete vine which is more than six feet tall!

Full length picture of the hardenbergia vine; higher than six feet

You can read more about Hardenbergia violacea here

See more JBRish gardening and desert gardening posts here HERE

Desert Bloom – Tecoma ‘Orange Jubilee’

Tecoma - Orange Jubilee

Another interesting and worthwhile plant to have in the desert garden is Orange Jubilee (also called Orange Esperanza or Orange bells) or any of its variants.

How it grows in my garden:

The plant is trimmed to between three and four feet tall (+/-) because it grows in a large container. If grown in the ground, it will be much larger. It extends to about six feet wide. The showy orange flowers bloom in clusters at the end of the branches as you can see in the photographs. When I notice seed pods, I remove them to extend the long blooming period even more.

Tecoma - Orange Jubilee Closeup

Hardiness range (depending on where it is grown): 0 to 40 F. The key with desert plants is to wait until all danger of frost has ended before pruning any damaged branches as the new growing season begins.

How it grows in my garden:

Exposure: Almost full sun (8-10 hours per day during the hot desert summer). Our shrub has afternoon shade coming from the west courtesy of a nearby Foothills Palo Verde.

In General: The plant is trimmed in stages at the beginning of the growing season. I remove very long and spindly branches and watch for the new growth. Once it starts to get bushy again, I trim more to maintain an even shape. Another tenet of xeriscape gardening is to keep trimming to no more than one third of the total growth. I try to keep it a bit less than that as these plants will be under stress during the upcoming hot weather.

Watering: During the winter the plant gets watered once or twice a week. When the spring active growing season begins, it is watered every few days until the end of April, then every other day or so until the end of May and then every day until the end of September. Watering tapers off from there.(Remember, this watering schedule reflects our desert environment.)

Fertilizer: I use a standard desert tree and shrub fertilizer (16-8-8) along with a tablespoon of a “super bloom” – type to add extra elements.

The plant receives fertilizer on or about:

Valentine’s Day
Memorial Day
Labor Day

Tecoma - Orange Jubilee

If you like these orange clusters and a nice green, bushy plant give Orange Jubilee a try!

Read More:

My Texas Flower Garden

Via East Valley Tribune – (The pictures don’t do it justice)

Holiday Tree

Growing cultivated plants can be hard here in the desert; in fact we’ve used the term “Gardening on the Moon” to describe our ongoing efforts here in the Valley of the Sun. Most growth that arises naturally from the sand is subtle shades of green that frequently turn to grey and brown as the season progresses. Anything cultivated requires a delicate balance of watering, and protection from wildlife and the inconsistencies of a harsh climate.

Amaranth in the Desert

But occasionally small miracles happen! Years ago we planted an amaranth (Amaranthus) from seed that was short-lived because they proved perfect fodder for ravaging javelinas (think “wild pig”, although they are in the peccary family). Every spring, a “volunteer” from the original would surface; mostly to be met with the same fate as its predecessors. But this year’s candidate has been a “stayer”!! It has grown nearly four feet high and its thick red stalk has resisted the javelinas’ gnawing (teeth marks are evident!). It provides a bright splash of deep red color on our back deck and is a wonderful reminder of the perseverance of nature!