Low water usage plants

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With rainfall amounts, in our state, at record lows, and most of our reservoirs at minimum capacity, we potentially could be looking at water rationing in the near future. It is also predicted that this drought mode could continue over the next 15 to 20 years.

If you have a yard that currently requires high amounts of water, this could spell disaster. Getting proactive and choosing plants that have low water requirements can circumvent future problems.

In the past years, I have found that many of our summer bloomers are easier and showier than most flowers found anywhere in the world. Take for instance, the Mexican Bird of Paradise. It takes little water, no fertilization and only requires trimming once a year (usually in January). This plant is probably this most spectacular bloomer you will find here in the desert setting. It flows 5 to 10 feet tall and foes dormant in the winter.

A couple of good companions to the Mexican Bird of Paradise would be the Red Yucca and the Desert Marigold. The Red Yucca has spiky leaves and red flowering stalks. The Desert Marigold is a favorite that reseeds easily and has small, yellow flowers, gray foliage and reaches approximately one foot in height. Plant these two plants in masses with the Bird of Paradise and you will have a winning combination.

A plant that starts on its own and takes little to no care is the Bougainvillea. I have found the worse you treat this plant, the better it blooms. In fact, the majority of the time I have seen it not blooming is because its owner was watering and fertilizing too much. I have cut off all water and fertilizer on my Bougainvilleas and enjoyed spectacular results.

For some low growers, try Gazanias (yellow or orange flowers), Blackfoot Daises (white flowers) and Lantana (comes in a wide assortment of colors -- the gold mound being my favorite). All do a great job attracting pollinators into the garden. Lantana especially draws a lot of butterflies, which adds a beautiful dimension to your landscape.

As for shrubs, you can use Desert Yellowbells (yellow flowers), Desert Ruellia (purple flowers) and Green Cloud Sage. All will grow anywhere from 2 to 4 feet tall, and have showy displays during the hottest months.

As you can see, you don’t have to give up a beautiful landscape by going with low water usage plants. Planting them now will allow a rush of color tomorrow and helps the environment at the same time.