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Weekly Gardening Tips for Your Area


Fall Annuals and Shrubs for the West

Lynn Coulter
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The flower show in your Western garden doesn’t have to end with summer. By late September or early October, you can replace the tired, faded flowers and foliage in your landscape with fresh fall annuals and shrubs. Use our recommendations to find the best plants for autumn.

Annuals For the west and western desert

Petunias: Use sun-loving petunias everywhere: in garden beds, window boxes and containers. Wave petunias, which have a trailing growth habit, are especially beautiful in hanging baskets.

Pansies: These cheerful flowers with “faces” thrive in cool weather. Give pansies a sunny spot and keep them well-watered but not soggy.



Dianthus: Low-growing dianthus, or pinks, have a spicy scent. Grow them in full sun and well-drained soil. They’re also great for rock gardens. Available in red, pink, white or bicolors, dianthus are deer-resistant. 

Snapdragons: These plants are fun for children, who squeeze the sides of the blooms to make them “snap.” Snapdragons prefer part sun to full sun and come in almost every color except blue.



Garden mums: Chrysanthemums, or mums, come in jewel-like colors and many forms. Some flower heads are round; others resemble daisies. The plants bloom for weeks in sun and well-drained soil. Not recommended for Western desert areas.




Gardenias: Grow these evergreen shrubs on a patio or near a window, so you can enjoy their fragrance. They like full sun to part shade and slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.0 to 6.0. Use a soil test kit to see if you should amend your soil.

Hibiscus: Watch for hummingbirds and butterflies to visit these big shrubs, which can also be grown as small trees. Give them full sun and at least 1″ of water each week if there’s not enough rain.



Bougainvillea: Feed these sun-lovers with a bougainvillea fertilizer that includes micronutrients, and they’ll reward you with lush, exotic blooms in pink, purple, magenta, yellow, red, orange and white.



SHRUBS FOR THE Western desert

Hibiscus and Bougainvillea

Tecomaria: Also known as Cape Honeysuckle, this shrub bears red-orange to scarlet blooms. It’s moderately drought-tolerant once established and loves full sun. Grow it as a hedge, or, if it becomes vine-like, let it cascade over a wall or spread along a slope.

Caesalpinia mexicana: This large evergreen, sometimes called Mexican Bird of Paradise, bears beautiful yellow flower spikes and can be pruned to use as a shrub, or allowed to grow into a small tree. It needs very little water and prefers full sun.

Leucophyllum: Sometimes referred to as purple sage or Texas sage, this evergreen shrub produces bell-shaped, lavender to purple flowers. Avoid overwatering; it’s easily grown in sandy soil and full sun.

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