Low Water Use Trees and Shrubs

Rice-Canyon-Demonstration-Gardens-pg.10Palo-VerdeCercidium x ‘Desert Museum’

This gorgeous, thornless hybrid Palo Verde makes a fine, upright shade tree. The yellow blossoms give it a dazzling display of color. ‘Desert Museum’ grows to be about 15′ – 30′ in height and width, but can be pruned to be kept smaller. Cercidium loves full sun and is impervious to heat; it can take the wind and adapts to poor soil conditions. This tree can be affected by powdery mildew if planted near the coast; it’s much better suited for the warmth and dry inland areas. Once established it only needs occasional watering.

This hybrid Palo Verde has its origin in three parent trees: Parkinsonia microphyllum, Parkinsonia floribundum, and Parkinsonia aculeate.

Tecoma x ‘Sunrise’ ™

Rice-Canyon-Demonstration-Gardens-pg.11Rice-Canyon-Demonstration-Gardens-pg.12This heavy blooming shrub can stand up to the worst heat of the low deserts and the humidity of the tropics, it’s well suited for xeric landscapes, but also responds well to moisture and fertilization in the summer. Its only limitation is sensitivity to the cold.

These flowers have a burnt orange throat accenting the inside of the flower. Each flower bud has a burnished copper color on it, and also on the back of each bloom; it’s best used in oasis and transition landscape design settings, moderately attracts hummingbirds.

Cactus vs. Succulents

What’s the difference between a cactus and a succulent?

Well, there are two answers:

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First of all cactus are native to North and South America, while Succulents grow everywhere.  Second, there is a difference in the way the thorns of the plant are attached.  Cacti thorns emerge from a pad while Succulents thorns are an extension of the body of the plant.

2014-06-26 08.32.33Most succulents can only tolerate temperatures down to around 50 degrees F, but many cacti can only tolerate temperatures down to the 40s. The biggest mistake that I’ve experienced growing cacti and succulents is forgetting that they are plant and therefore have similar requirements to other plants, which is: water, food, air and light.  Cacti and succulents are adapted to fairly extreme conditions but cannot thrive no matter where they are grown, without these vital elements.

2014-06-26 08.34.15No succulent or cacti grow in a true desert setting compromised of only sand and no rainfall.  Most grow in what is usually described as a semi-desert. Most cacti and succulents grow where semi rainfall occurs for a limited number of months out of the year.

Many features of cacti and succulents are adapted to absorb and store water from rainfall when it’s present; so in turn plants can survive throughout the dry season.  These features include a ribbed stem structure to allow for expansion and contraction and a widespread root system for for rapid uptake of water.


Night Blooming Dragonfruit

dragonfruithylocereus-undatus-dragon-fruitFrom July to late October the Hylocereus blooms white flowers 10-12 inches in width, the flowers appear at dusk but only last one night. From these flowers comes a large oval shaped fruit that can weigh up to 2 pounds. The fruit has a tough outer pink skin with overlapping scales.  The interior of the fruit is white and fleshy with many edible seeds.

Hylocereus undatus is a species of Cactaceae that is one of the most cultivated species in the genus. Pitahaya or Dragonfruit is used as an ornamental vine or a fruit crop.

Chula Vista Open Space