Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

August, 2008
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Mexican Thread Grass
Mexican thread grass (Stipa tenuissima) is native to the Chihuahuan Desert and is cold hardy to 0 degrees F. It takes full sun at higher elevations, but does better with partial shade in low elevations. It is a little bit thirstier than some grasses (such as Muhlenbergia) in the low desert, but it is still considered a low-water-use plant. Leaves are a vivid green and the plant grows to 1-1/2 feet tall and wide. In fall, it is covered with feathery golden flower spikes swishing back and forth in the slightest breeze. It seems like it would make a soft bed!

Clever Gardening Technique

Revegetate with Seed Mixes
Green a large area economically with a revegetation seed mix containing some combination of grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs. Be sure to choose one with plants native to your growing region. A source for Sonoran Desert, Great Basin Desert, Mogollon Rim, and desert mountain regions is Wild Seed, from Tempe, Arizona. Call (602) 276-3536 or write P.O. Box 27751, Tempe, AZ 85285 to request a brochure (no Web site). Botanical gardens and arboreta gift shops are another good source for native seeds.

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