southwest garden

Welcome to Southwest Gardening


Welcome to Southwest Gardening. We launched this blog to help make gardening easier and more fun in the varied geography and climate of the Southwest. We’re four long-time garden bloggers from Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas; Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona; and New Mexico.

In addition to weekly posts from our contributors, we’ll have announcements on social media for tips and ideas along with upcoming workshops or book launches. So please follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter.
We look forward to celebrating the Southwest and giving you information specific to growing in the dry Southwest climate.

Ann, Noelle, Jacqueline and Teresa

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  • Virginia Allison

    After having 3 Lantana plants spaced around my from patio in-between pots and rose bushes for several years, I have concluded that the strong ropey nature of the roots are invasive and may strangle other plants. These ropey roots have even gone under a side walk and emerged on the other side to invade the roots of an old large Mr. Lincoln rose bush. I am thinking of digging out the lantana to protect the other plants. I am considering planting the Mexican Petunia, Ruellia brittoniana in their place. But I am unfamiliar with this plant. I have two of them in little pots from the nursery to use somewhere.
    Another thing I am considering is topping a huge Desert Broom that is in full bloom, just to get rid of the mess of falling fuzzy blossoms. Smaller Desert Blooms always put out new green shoots from the cuts. These newer shoots are nice for “filler” in my rose bouquets. Do you experts have any comments on these ideas? I live at 1085 foot altitude in the Rio Verde Foothills, a little higher and cooler than the Phoenix valley. I tend 200 rose bushes around my house.
    Here’s another challenge you might comment on. I have citrus trees and the greedy desert birds peck and ruin most of the tangerines and oranges. Christmas garlands and hanging CD’s don’t help to deter them much. Last winter it seemed to me that the birds went south after a freeze and weren’t as much of problem but this year they are still around and have just about finished my citrus crop.

    • Noelle Johnson

      Hello Virginia,

      It’s nice to hear from you. I am very familiar with the Rio Verde area and it’s a beautiful area!

      Mexican petunia (Ruellia brittoniana) are quite invasive unless restrained in a container. They start out small, but then continue to spread and even when they are removed, they seem to keep coming back. You may want to consider Baja ruellia (Ruellia peninsularis), which is not invasive, has attractive green foliage and produces purple flowers spring through fall.

      Desert broom is native to the Sonoran desert and they spread easily from seed, often taking root in recently disturbed soil. Once they take root, they are very difficult to remove, which is problematic if they spread where they aren’t desired (often next to a desirable plant). They can cause allergies, but despite that, their bright green foliage is attractive.

      To deter the birds, you may want to use bird netting around your citrus trees, which can be removed once you have harvested your citrus fruit.

      I hope this helps!