The Q&A Archives: What to plant?

Question: I recently moved to Lancaster and am putting a yard into a new home. What kind of trees and plants are best for the extremes of temperature here?

Answer: In your high desert gardening region you'll want drought tolerant plants. Here are a few suggestions. You'll find even more ideas by visiting nurseries in your area.

Atriplex canescens, Saltbush, silvery leaves, fire retardant, with 3 - 6 foot growth, good for erosion control. Likes full sun. Use as a naturalizer to native surroundings. Tolerates saline soils.

Caesalpinia gilliesii, Bird of Paradise Bush, open, sparsely leafed shrub grown for interesting shape and spectacular flowers, long blooming--spring through summer. Fast growing to 10 feet, does best in full sun and well-drained soil.

Centurea cineraria, Dusty Miller, annual or perennial, with silvery white leaves and spring and summer yellow flowers. Use as a border plant and as a foliage contrast. Cut back if leggy.

Chilopsis linearis, Desert Willow, deciduous large shrub or small tree, drops leaves early and holds seed capsules until removed, showy summer flower clusters pink to white trumpet shaped. Use in full sun, does well in highly exposed and difficult situations.

Coreopsis lanceolata, Coreopsis, perennial herb to 5 feet with bright yellow daisy-like flowers spring to summer, start by seed then spreads by reseeding, water increases plant size. Use anywhere to get bright color--near buildings or as a naturalizer.

Cotoneaster species, Cotoneaster, evergreen, semideciduous or deciduous groundcovers and small shrub, arching branches with small leaves and red winter berries, good for erosion control, give north or east exposure with some shade, do not prune, looks best with natural growth, give room to spread.

Elaeagnus angustifolia, Russian Olive, large shrub or small tree to 20 feet, 10 - 15 foot spread, deciduous. Attractive silver gray leaves with pale yellow flowers in summer, producing olive-like berries. Hardy, takes nearly any conditions. Use as a screen shrub, small tree, or pruned on a trellis or fence.

Elaeagnus pungens, Silverberry, evergreen shrub to 10 feet with grayish foliage and rust colored undersides, can be shaped with pruning or allowed to naturally sprawl, could be hedge or screen. Sun to partial shade. Alkaline soils may need amendment to adjust pH for successful growth.

Hemerocallis species, Daylily, bulb-like small shrubs with showy summer to fall blooms, generally yellow to orange, use in borders, as mass plantings, near pools, best in shade or east exposure. Very successful in the High Desert, but may suffer some winter freeze damage and wind burn.

Juniperus species, Juniper, many varieties from prostrate form to medium sized shrubs, use as accent, on slopes, as a barrier, for desert appearance, avoid pruning, give each variety the proper room to grow, will do well in light shade or full sun. J. californica and J. ostosperma are native to the High Desert. Juniperous chinensis is more readily available in High Desert nurseries.

Rosa banksiae, Banks Rose, evergreen to deciduous climber to 20 feet, thornless, large clusters of yellow or white flowers spring to summer, use on slopes, fences and arbors. Full sun to partial shade. Can freeze back during High Desert winters.

Rosa damascena, Damask Rose, deciduous oldstyle spreading rose with pale to deep pink 3 - 4 inch fragrant flowers, grows 6 - 8 feet, prickly stoma, hardy and green during the hot season, good for erosion control on banks or as hedges. Full sun. Can freeze back during High Desert winters.

Salvia species, Sage, evergreen shrubs with fragrant foliage to 4 feet tall, flowers spring to fall in a range of colors from reds to blues, attracts hummingbirds. Remove dead blooms to prolong flowering. Some species are frost sensitive.

Yucca species, Yucca, recommended species include both Yucca chidegera (Mojave Yucca) and Yucca whipplei. These plants are native to Southern California, featuring a cluster of spine-tipped leaves, and white blooms on tall stalks. Fire retardant, needs full sun. Beware: leaf spines can be dangerous, particularly for children, keep away from walks or play areas. Use as accent with other desert plants. Each rosette dies after flowering, but the colony remains.

Hope these suggestions get you on your way to a glorious new garden!

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