Caliche

Caliche is defined as a crust or a succession of crusts of calcium carbonate that form within or on top of stony soil in arid and semi-arid regions and is often combined with clay. Caliche is lacking in organic matter. Its crusting tendencies often prohibit drainage.

Common Name: Engelman's Daisy, Cut Leaf Daisy

First class native wildflower for your low water-use location whether you live in the city or country. No soil amending is even needed for Engelman's daisy, but you might want to improve the drainage if you soil is compact, or amend with some organic matter for caliche soil. Toowell amended soil will cause E. pinnatifida to grow too tall and gangly. If this happens, cut down nearly to the ground at the end of June, or mid July. It will grow back and begin flowering within 3 - 4 weeks. Will reseed some.

Common Name: Algerita, agerita, desert holly, Paisano Bush

Native evergreen shrub that makes an excellent hedge plant and wind break. Its blue-green prickly leaves keep the unwanted out (to a point). Please allow room for its spread.

A habitat plant for shelter and as a food source of food for birds and other wildlife that is an attractive addition to the home landscape, where an evergreen shrub is called for in a sunny spot. Sun yellow flowers in March. Cold hardy to -20°, algerita can be found growing from 4000 to 7000 ft. in elevation in Texas, the southwest and Mexico.

Common Name: Gro-Low Sumac

Sumacs are known for brillian fall foliage. Ground cover woody shrub 24-30" tall with dark shiny green leaves that turn a thrilling orange-red in the fall. Small yellow flowers at springtime.

Common Name: Tansy Aster, Tahoka Daisy

Tansy aster is an annual native to the Southwest and throughout the Plains even into Canada. Fernlike, or tansy-like (tannacetifolia) light green foliage with beautiful aster-like lavender flowers with yellow disks about 1 1/2 to 2 inches across. Blooms from late spring through fall. A once a month watering will keep the blooms coming throughout the summer. It will keep its compact shape in lean, poor soil but will become much larger in well amended soil. Minimal amending is recommended. Tansy aster is another example of our natives plants giving so much, asking so little in return.

Common Name: Prairie Dropseed

Prairie dropseed is smaller than both alkali or giant sacaton, more fitting for the city garden. A warm season bunch grass, prairie dropseed is a most attractive low or medium water-use grass with graceful green foliage. The seed heads emerge in late summer into fall with light pink seeds, that is said to naturalize some, but not invasively. A slow grower. Foliage turns a pleasing golden orange in the fall. Native throughout the Great Plains, including Texas. Tolerates most soil conditions.

Common Name: Three Leaf Sumac, Skunkbush, Squawbush

Three leaf sumac is medium height woody shrub native to the Texas Panhandle and throughout the Southwest. Three  distinctive cleft and lobed leaves (trifoliate) are medium to dark green. Small greenish yellow flowers in spring are followed by tart red berries in summer, which are used to make a lemonade-like drink. The shrub's flowers have a pleasant fragrance, even though it is called skunkbush by some. Beautiful golden and reddish fall foliage. Cold hardy to Zone 4, yet extremely heat and drought tolerant. Prefers sandy and well drained soils.

Common Name: Burgundy Gaillardia, burgundy blanket flower.

Sometimes referred to as Gaillardia x grandiflora ‘Burgundy’.  A cross between G. aristata and G. puchella. I’ve not been able to determine whether these are 2 different varieties, or just name confusion. They must be quite similar, nonetheless. It reseeded once for me, so I'm not sure at all. Medium water for this plant through the heat of summer will prolong blooms, as will afternoon shade. A stunning plant and prolific bloomer for your border.

Common Name: Big leaf sage

Wagons Ho! Rugged, ragged and windblown --  a true picture of the western and southwestern landscape. If you have a skeleton of a steer's head, now is the time to use it, along with that wagon wheel.

Pair with Opuntia imbricata, cholla; Vauquelinia corymbosa var angustifolia, Chisos Rosewood; Apache plume and Salvia greggii .

Artemisia tridentata grows over a wide range throughout the west from 1500 - 10,000 feet in elevation and is cold hardy to -30°. Because of the wide adaption range, buy plants from seeds of natives nearby for best adaptability.

Common Name: Desert Willow

Summer flowering low water-use native tree, several varieties to choose from. Willow like green leaves. Cold hardy reliably in Zone 7, will winter over most years in Zone 6. The variety pictured in the close-up flower photo is "Lucrecia Hamilton", the variety in the third photo is 'Art's Seedless'. During early autumn snows, be quick to shake snow off the branches to avoid breakage.

Common Name: Bigelow's Tansyaster

Bigelow's tansyaster is easy to confuse with Tahoka daisy but is not as showy. Bigelow's aster is a fall blooming biennial, with far fewer purple rays and a smaller, yellow brown center disk. It populates plains in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. In the fall, whole fields will wear a purple haze due to this tansyaster.

Common Name: Utah Serviceberry

Utah serviceberry is a quite beautiful shrub extending from the Southwestern states northward throughout the Rocky Mountains and through various ecosystems between 4000 and 8000 ft in elevation. Deep green leaves, large oval shaped and toothed at the margins, many intricately branched, smooth gray to maroon bark. Large white flowers with five widely spaced petals open in May and June. Berries appear in the summer, ripening to pink, then red, then finally dark blue. Leaves turn red and orange in the fall.

Common Name: Gayfeather, Dotted Blazing Star

Gayfeather is one of the High Plains jewels of autumn, sending up grasslike leaves or stalks that bloom gloriously in September and October to fuzzy purple spikes. At maturity, one plant can grow a dozen or more, size and number depending on rainfall amounts. Drier years, the stalks are few and short, but with monthly or twice a month watering, the plant displays much more vitality. The purple flowers contrast nicely with the many yellow flowers that bloom on the plains. Liatris punctata is the most drought tolerant of the genus.

Common Name: Indian Blanket, basket flower, firewheel.

Our showiest native wildflower; an annual. Little care required. Grows along roadsides and in natural areas throughout our region. Gaillardias are popular these days, with many new introductions all the time. G. pulchella is a good choice for seeding in prairie areas with other native grasses and wildflowers.

Common Name: Mullein

Verbascums make a presence in the wildflower or cottage garden and mixed border, whether it be this common mullein, or another species with showier flowers. Verbascums can be either biennial or perennial, but will make enough seeds you’ll never be without. Some are drought tolerant and thrive in poor, but well drained soil, others may need medium water use and a richer soil.

Common Name: Perky Sue, bitterweed

Small but tough is Perky Sue. Woody base with thin short green leaves from which many stems shoot up to display many yellow daisy like flowers from April into fall. Many people know this plant by the genus name Hymenoxys, but has been changed to Tetraneuris in the last decade. There are a few relatives that look quite similar and are all equally valuable in the garden: T. acaulis and T. odorata.

Common Name: Desert Four O'clock

Rounded mounds of green leaves on multi-forked stems put forth multitudes of fragrant purple/magenta flowers from summer into autumn. Flowers open in late afternoon (perhaps around four o'clock) and close in early morning. Cold hardy and heat and drought tolerant, after freezing in the fall, the top growth breaks away. Desert four o'clock emerges in the spring from a large root. Will not transplant well once established. Southwest native perennial is usually found in somewhat shaded areas.

Common Name: Narrowleaf Mountain Mahogany, Littleleaf Mountain Mahogany

Littleleaf mountain mahogany is the shortest of the mountain mahoganies usually sold. Small, narrow, leathery looking evergreen leaves on many intricate branches. Small yellow flowers in springtime and feathery seed plumes in the fall. The shrub is densely branched and slow growing.

Common Name: Prairie Verbena, Purple Prairie Verbena, Dakota Vervain

Prairie verbena is one of my favorite plants, it is one of the first to bloom in the spring and one of the last to be affected by freezes in the fall. Small in stature, but it has my respect for giving so much with so little given (from me) in return. It's short lived, maybe just one year or three. Green, finely cut hairy leaves, with several branched stems that put on clusters of tiny lavender, purple, violet or pink flowers. Blooms from spring to fall. Readily reseeds, not invasively so. Its volunteer seedlings are easy to dig up and transplant.

Common Name: Blackfoot Daisy

Native wildflower that likes it lean and mean. Over watering and well amended soil will usually cause Blackfoot daisy to die a premature death, even for a short lived perennial, such as it is. It would be an ideal border plant, similar to alyssum, if not for its tendency to move about where it will (that is, die where you plant it and seed somewhere else). Still, it’s worth a try. Our Panhandle xeric gardens should never be without Blackfoot Daisy. In fact, once you plant Blackfoot daisy and let it seed, you should never be without it (and that’s a good thing).

Common Name: Fringed sage

Lower growing Southwestern native shrub, both cold and heat tolerant. Finely cut greenish silver leaves. Flower stalks with insignificant flowers. Grows best in soils with good drainage. Will grow in heavy clay soil if grown among grasses.

Common Name: Coneflower, Mexican Hat

You can't have just one. As soon as you plant one, you'll have a drift, then a sweep, then a field if you have the space. But I still don't consider the prairie coneflower to be invasive, merely pleasant. Next to the Indian Blanket, the Mexican Hat shouts Southwest prairies. And its a tough hombre. If your stand becomes too dense or too much, just weed some out. They're adaptable to most native soils and will thrive on available or once a month supplementation. Coneflowers bloom yellow, reddish or brown late spring into fall and make an attractive display when mixed.

Common Name: Virginia Creeper Vine

Virginia creeper, one of our pernicious native creepers, is a worthy low care vine for brilliant fall foliage and deep blue berries (highly toxic to humans) loved by birds. Virginia creeper normally spread by seeds in bird droppings, which is the method it came to my landscape. When spotted early, Virginia creeper easily pulls out, but if not spotted, within no time, it will cover a fence, climb a pole or cover an area. Which can be either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on one's view.

Common Name: Mountain Mahogany

Mountain mahogany is native to the Texas Panhandle and throughout the Southwest, found in elevations from 3000-9500 ft. Another common name is Alderleaf mountain mahogany, because its leaves resemble that of an alder. Mountain mahogany, whose wood is very hard (Palo Duro) is found in Palo Duro Canyon. Extremely drought tolerant, it will survive on 10 inches of rainfall. An aromatic shrub with shredding reddish bark, but can grow to tree size. Mountain mahogany's flowers are small, rayless and insignificant, as they are in the other species.

Common Name: Mohave Sage

Beautiful xeric sage with aromatic soft gray green leaves, mostly evergreen. Summer to fall blooming with mauve/purple sticky but fragrant flowers. Takes a few years to reach mature height. Requires good drainage and dry soil in the winter. A Plant Select® Plant. Native to California and will grow in the High Desert regions. Cold hardy to Zone 5 and quite heat tolerant.

Common Name: Silky Thread Grass

A mid height grass suitable for any low water-use garden, city or country. It does self-seed somewhat, but I hadn’t noticed it to be a problem in a xeric setting (simply remove or transplant them). It's greatest attribute is it's gently flowing nature int he wind. It is native to Texas and the southwest. I saw it growing along the slopes of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park. It pairs well with yucca, agave, Calylophus and any native shrub.

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