The Q&A Archives: Perennials for Low Desert

Question: Looking for blooming perennials in shades of purples and pinks that will grow well in Peoria Az in sunny locations, north side house.
Already have lantana and roses.

Answer: As you probably know, northern exposures are somewhat problematic in the low desert, because they are typically in full shade in winter and full sun in winter. There aren't many desert-adapted plants that can tolerate those two extremes and bloom reliably. Katie Ruellia (Ruellia brittoniana 'Katie') is a compact, mounding plant with dark evergreen foliage, that comes in purple or pink flowers, blooming spring to fall. It grows 1 to 2 feet tall and wide and takes sun or partial shade. Penstemon (P. parryi and P. pseudospectabilis) are perennial wildflowers in pink shades that will retain their greenery year-round in sun or partial shade. They bloom in spring and attract hummingbirds. Pink guara (it comes in white also) takes sun and partial shade. You might also try purple desert verbena, and treat it as an annual if it doesn't take the winter shade. Another thought is an artemesia, such as 'Silver King.' Silver foliage sets off nicely against pinks and purples, and this spiky foliage looks good in bouquets with roses. I hope these ideas help!

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