Best Plants For The High Desert

By Ashka Patel

(Victor Valley)– Spring is here and it’s the perfect time to start your luscious garden. There are several types of plants which are recommended, however we have  put together a short guide and list of which plants are suitable in the High Desert. Our zone is 8b. It is also recommended to always plant perennial plants  since they will last you several years compared to annuals which only last about  a year. All of the plants below are for full sun exposure since we get a whole  lot of sun in the High Desert. These plants will bloom in mid  summer.

Butterfly Blue Scabiosa is on the top of the list as  it’s  Lavender-blue flowers with pincushion-like centers bloom in spring;  continue all summer into fall. For those of you looking for a great fragrant  flowering plant Liily of the Valley is your best bet. Wonderfully fragrant  petite, white nodding bell shaped flowers are surrounded by deep green oval  leaves. Spreads nicely as a ground cover for a shaded area or woodland setting.  Another beautiful flowering plant is the Apricot Princess Rose with Long-lasting  double blooms deepen from a vivid apricot to coral from midsummer to frost.  Glossy, dark green foliage on sturdy stems sets the stage for these robust  roses. Creates a lovely border, ground cover, specimen or container planting. Perfect for both fresh and dried arrangements.

The Sorbet Peony is  also great for the High Desert. The unusual pink and white 5-7″ double blooms of  this hybrid are as delectable as an elegant dessert. Fragrant flowers provide  breathtaking beauty in early summer, and handsome foliage turns red in fall.

Perfect for the smaller landscape are Hollyhocks are charming hollyhocks need no staking! Dainty, rose red flowers cover the  sturdy 30-32″ stems for 2 to 3 months, beginning in early to midsummer,  attracting butterflies all the while. A splashy accent for borders and bouquets.

One of the most elegant plants for the High Desert is the Blue Wisteria. This is a great plant to train among your fences, arbors, and gazebos. Blue Wisteria  Vine provides an unparalleled grand show that has been known to stop traffic!  It’s a Hardy, fast-growing, free-flowering vine is loaded with 12″ clusters of
blue-violet flowers in late spring to early summer. Magnificent when trained as a tree form.

A great flowering shrub is the hydrangea. One of the best colors is purple. This variety has an excellent dense, compact growth habit  which not only
makes it suitable for small garden spaces, but gives it a full, dense look. The richly colored flowers are produced in great abundance for  several weeks. They remain on the plant in an attractive dried state that provides fall and winter interest, or they can be cut for dried flower arrangements. This is a wonderful shrub to use in naturalized setting,  mixed borders or as an informal hedge.

Another great vine is the clematis. A Sea of Gorgeous Double Blue Flowers! Hardy vines are literally covered with flamboyant blooms. To create privacy, highlight an architectural feature or hide  an unsightly area, there is no finer choice than clematis vines. Attaches itself  to fixtures such as fences, arbors or pergolas using twisting and twining leaf petioles.

How to Plant

Purchase a potted flower! You can get it at  a retail store or a greenhouse – it’s up to you. Look over the plant well before  you purchase it, though, to make sure it doesn’t have pests and that it is healthy and vigorous. If a plant is wilted and has a lot of yellowed leaves,  it’s best to pass on it and look for a better specimen. Also check the label to ensure that you’re buying a plant that will survive in your climate  zone.

Choose your planting area according to the sun/shade  requirements of the plant you purchased. Work the soil to a depth of at least  12-18 inches all around the planting area. If the soil is too hard or dry, you  can amend it with peat moss, commercially bagged soil, and/or compost to improve  the texture. Powdery or extremely sandy soil may too fine or porous to hold  water.

The other extreme is heavy clay that holds too much water and can smother the roots. You want soil that is crumbly and soft and that can be packed
tightly  around the rootball.

You can add fertilizer if you want your plant to flower  more vigorously. Most plants, however, have fertilizer crystals or beads already  in the soil
when you purchase them. There are products that boost root growth  that you can add at the time of planting. Read the label carefully for the appropriate dose. Be sure not to over fertilize, which can burn the plant roots.

Dig a hole, about twice as large as the diameter of the flower’s pot. If the plant is root bound (the roots are tightly wrapped around the rootball), take a sharp garden knife and slit the side of the rootball from top to bottom  on at least four sides, also slicing off the bottom of the rootball if it, too,  is tangled with roots. Place the plant in the center of the hole. If the roots  are loose, spread the roots gently under and around the plant.

Spread a layer of loose dirt around the base of the rootball. With your garden hose or  bucket, add enough water to cover the dirt. Add another layer of dirt to the  hole and more water to cover. Repeat until enough soil has been added to the  hole to completely cover the root ball. The soil may be soft and muddy. Let it  sit for a bit until the water drains down, and then press down all around the  edge of the root ball with your fist or your foot until the plant is tightly  held in the hole. Then add dirt up to the point on the stem of the plant where  its natural soil line would be (you can usually tell because the stem will be  darkened with dirt up to that point and then clean above it). Do not add dirt  above the soil line or the plant’s roots may not survive. Press down again all  around the rootball.

Mulch the plant to a depth of about two inches with a good dense mulch, about two inches out from the stem to the edge of the outer leaves or branches. Don’t mulch right next to the stem to reduce the possibility  of insect or rodent activity. Press down again all around the root ball. To test whether the plant is securely in the hole, grab it at its base and gently tug. If the plant comes loose or wiggles around, you haven’t packed the soil tightly enough. If it holds firm, the plant is situated correctly.

Water your  plant one more time through the mulch and then periodically every three or four  days or so if you find that the soil is becoming dry. Don’t over water. That can drown the roots. Sun and warmth and the plant’s own energy will do the work from here on out with just a little help from you. Enjoy, because your garden is your sanctuary!

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