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Desert Cacti and Succulents for Southwestern Gardens
Note: Pictures do not correspond to entries.
Opuntia — Prickly Pears, Chollas, Tephrocactus Prickly Pears
Opuntia aciculata
Common Name: Red Flower
Prickly Pear Range: Texas Height x Width: 3 x 6
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green Flower
Season/Color: Spring, Red
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: One of the most spectacular flowering prickly pears with masses of brilliant red flowers during the spring.
Opuntia basilaris
Common Name: Beaver -Tail Prickly Pear
Range: Arizona, California
Height x Width: 2 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Gray Green Flower
Season/Color: Spring, Pink
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Brilliant hot pink flowers during the spring. Watch out for irritating glochids on the pads.
Opuntia engelmannii
Common Name: Engelmann’s Prickly Pear
Range: Arizona
Height x Width: 3 x 6
Foliage Texture/Color: Flower
Season/ Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Good flower displays during the spring with excellent fruits for making prickly pear jam.
Opuntia ficus-indica
Common Name: Indian Fig
Range: Mexico
Height x Width: 10 x 6
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Green Flower
Season/ Color: Spring, Yellow-Orange
Notes: Indian Fig is a distinctive tree prickly pear with edible fruit and nopalitos.
Opuntia lindheimerii var. linguiformis
Common Name: Cow’s Tongue
Range: Texas
Height x Width: 5 x 10
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/ Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun Notes: A distinctive prickly pear with long cow’s tongue pads.
Opuntia microdasys
Common Name: Bunny Ears
Range: Mexico
Height x Width:2 X10
Foliage Texture/Color:Coarse, Green
Flower Season/ Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: A common prickly pear with irritating glochids, best pruned in damp weather.
Opuntia robusta
Common Name: Giant Prickly Pear
Range: Mexico
Height x Width: 20 x 10
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Blue Green
Flower Season/ Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen : Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: One of most spectacular landscape prickly pear with dinner plate blue green pads and contrasting yellow flowers.
Opuntia santa-rita
Common Name: Purple Prickly Pear
Range: Arizona, Sonora
Height x Width: 3 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Purple-Gray Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Purple prickly pear turns purple in response to cold and drought.
Chollas
Opuntia acanthocarpa
Common Name: Buckhorn Cholla
Range: Arizona, Mexico
Height x Width: 5 x 6
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring,Yellow, Orange, Red,
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: A common native cholla good for natural screening
Opuntia bigelovii
Common Name: Teddy Bear Cholla
Range: Arizona, Mexico
Height x Width: 4 x 2
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Golden Yellow
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Plant teddy bear cholla well away from foot traffic areas
Tephrocactus
Opuntia articulata
Common Name: Paper Spine
Range: Argentina
Height x Width: 1 x 2
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Gray Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring,White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: A distinctive opuntia from Argentina with papery spines and white flowers.
Opuntia articulata var. inermis
Common Name: Spruce Cones
Range: Argentina
Height x Width:1 x 2
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse,Gray Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Columnar Cacti
Carnegiea gigantea
Common Name: Saguaro
Range: Arizona, Sonora
Height x Width: 30 x 10
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Green Flower
Season/Color:Spring,White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Saguaros are commonly used in southwestern gardens. The main limiting factor to their distribution in the Sonoran Desert is freezing weather.
Cereus hildmannianus
Common Name: Hildmann’s Cereus
Range: Brazil
Height x Width: 10 x 10
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Gray Green
Flower Season/Color: Summer,White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Hildmann’s Cereus is commonly seen in desert gardens. Has great displays of night-blooming flowers.
Echinocereus engelmannii
Common Name: Engelmann’s Hedgehog
Range: Arizona, Sonora, Baja California
Height x Width: 1 x 2
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse,Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Pink-Purple
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Engelmann’s hedgehog is oneof the first cacti to flower in the spring.
Myrtillocactus geometrizans
Common Name: Blue Myrtle
Range: Mexico
Height x Width : 15 x 15
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Blue Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Cream White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Myrtillocactus is a distinctive organ-pipe cactus for southwestern gardens, flowering prolifically and bearing tasty ‘currant-like’ berry fruits.
Pachycereus marginatus
Common Name: Mexican Organ Pipe
Range:Mexico
Height x Width: 10 x 10
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Cream
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Mexican organ pipe is a distinctive columnar for southwestern gardens, used as living fence in Mexico.
Pachycereus (Lophocereus) schottii
Common Name: Senita
Range: Arizona, Sonora, Baja California
Height x Width: 10 x 10
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse,Green
Flower Season/Color: Summer, Pink
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Senita is quite distinctive with its bristly tops from which the flowers arise.
Pachycereus schottii fma. monstrosus
Common Name: Totem Pole
Range: Baja California
Height x Width: 10 x 10
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/ Color: Summer, Pink
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Totem poles are very unique for their monstrose growth form, readily grown from cuttings.
Stenocereus thurberi
Common Name:Organ Pipe
Range: Arizona, Sonora, Baja California
Height x Width:10 x 10
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/ Color: Spring, Pinkish-White
Evergreen:Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Organ pipes are distinctive for the fluted growth.
Stenocereus eruca
Common Name: Creeping Devil
Range: Baja California
Height x Width: 2" x 2"
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Cream Green
Flower Season/Color: Summer, White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Semi
Notes: One of the most distinctive cacti , forming massive colonies in southern Baja California plant under the shade of a palo verde for additional protection from the sun.
Stenocereus alamosensis
Common Name: Cina
Range: Sonora
Height X Width: 10 x 6
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring-Summer, Red
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: The rambling cina cactus flowers through the summer and attracts hummingbirds.
Stetsonia coryne
Common Name: Toothpick Cactus
Range: Argentina
Height X Width: 20 x 15
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Gray Green
Flower Season/Color: Summer, White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Stetsonia is distinctive for its long grayish-white spines.
Trichocerus candicans
Common Name: Argentine Trichocereus
Range: Argentina
Height X Width: 3 x 6
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Semi
Notes: Argentine trichocereus has exceptionally large 8-inch white flowers.
Trichocereus huascha
Common Name:
Range : Argentina
Height X Width: 2 x 2
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Red, Yellow, Pink
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Semi
Notes: Trichocereus are some of the best flowering landscape cacti for southwestern gardens. Many exciting hybrids have been developed and continue to be developed.
Trichocereus terscheckii
Common Name: Cardon Grande
Range: Argentina
Height x Width: 15 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/ Color: Spring, White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Cardon grande is an analog of the saguaro, found in the Monte Desert of Argentina.
Globular Cacti
Echinocactus grusonii
Common Name: Golden Barrel
Range: Mexico
Height x Width: 5 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Golden Barrels are commonly grown in southwestern gardens, excellent for mass planting.
Ferocactus cylindraceus (acanthodes)
Common Name: Compass Barrel
Range:Arizona, Sonora, Baja California
Height x Width: 5 x 1
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Compass barrel commonly flowers in the spring.
Ferocactus wislizenii
Common Name: Fishhook Barrel
Range: Arizona, New Mexico,Texas
Height x Width: 5 x 1
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Summer, Orange, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Fishhook barrel commonly flowers in the summer.
Stem Succulents
Euphorbia antisyphilitica
Common Name: Candelilla
Height x Width: 2 x 3
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Summer, Pink
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Candelilla is a distinctive reedlike succulent.
Euphorbia resinifera
Common Name: Morroco Mound
Range: Morroco
Height x Width: 2 x 5
Foliage Texture/Color:Coarse, Light Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring,Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: A distinctive euphorbia for the southwestern gardens, surprisingly very hardy.
Pachypodium lemaireii
Common Name:
Range: Madagascar
Height x Width: 10 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/ Color: Summer, White
Evergreen: Semi
Exposure: Sun
Notes: A distinctive accent for the southwestern gardens, either as container plant or in sheltered garden location.
Stapelia variegata
Common Name: Starfish Flower
Range: South Africa
Height x Width: 1 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season,/Color: Summer, Yellow
Evergreen: Semi
Exposure: Semi
Notes: Stapelias are succulents in the milkweed family, beautiful flowers and flowers that smell like rotting meat that attract for pollination.
Caudiciforms-Thick stemed succulents
Bursera microphylla
Common Name: Elephant Tree
Range: Arizona, Sonora, Baja California
Height x Width: 15 x 15
Foliage Texture/Color: Fine, Green
Flower Season/Color: Summer, Cream
Evergreen: Semi
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Elephant trees are found in warmer regions of the Sonoran Desert. Plant in a protected garden location or use as a container plant.
Cyphostemma juttae
Common Name: Succulent Grape
Range: South Africa
Height x Width: 3 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Light Green
Flower Season/Color: Summer, Cream
Evergreen: No
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Cyphostemma is a succulent member of the grape family. Plant in a protected garden location or use as a container plant.
Pachycormus discolor
Common Name: Baja Elephant Tree
Range: Baja California
Height x Width:
Foliage Texture/Color: Fine, Green
Flower Season/ Color: Summer, Pink, Purple,Red
Evergreen: No
Exposure: Sun
Notes: A distinctive elephant tree from Baja California. Deciduous in the summer. Interesting container plant.
Fouqieria columnaris
Common Name: Boojum Tree
Range: Sonora, Baja California
Height x Width: 10 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Medium, Green
Flower Season/Color: Summer, Cream
Evergreen: No
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Boojum trees are the distinctive succulents of Baja California. Seedlings are slow-growing and occasionally garden specimens are offered for sale.
Fouquieria splendens
Common Name: Ocotillo
Range: Southwest, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Sonora, Baja California
Height x Width: 15 x 15
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse,Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring,Red
Evergreen: No
Exposure: Full Sun
Notes: Ocotillo are commonly offered for sale. Keep well-watered until plants are established. Flowers attract hummingbirds.
Leaf Succulents -Agavacaceae, Aloes, Ice Plants
Agavaceae- Agave, Dasylirion, Hesperaloe, Nolina, Yucca
Agave colorata
Common Name: Mescal Ceniza
Range: Sonora
Height x Width: 3 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Gray Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Mescal Ceniza is a beautiful Sonoran agave with marbled and distinctive budprinted leaves.
Agave parryii
Common Name: Parry’s Agave
Range: Arizona, Mexico
Height x Width: 2 x 2
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Gray Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Deep Yellow
Evergreen:Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Parry’s agave is one of most compact agaves, plant in mass for best effect.
Agave salmiana var. ferox
Common Name:
Range: Mexico
Height x Width: 6 x 6
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Deep Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen : Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: A distinctive large deep green agave, contrasts well with gray leaved shrubs.
Agave vilmoriniana
Common Name: Octopus Agave
Range: Sonora
Height x Width: 3 x 3
Foliage Texture /Color: Flower Season/ Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Semi, Sun
Notes: Octopus agave is suitable for light shade with a distinctive octopus form.
Dasylirion wheeleri
Common Name : Sotol
Range: Arizona, Texas, New Mexico
Height x Width: 4 x 4
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Blue Green Flower Season/Color: Cream, Spring
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Sotol is distinctive for its graceful fountainlike form. Use it as kinetic garden sculpture.
Dasylirion acrotriche
Common Name: Green Desert Spoon
Range: Mexico
Height x Width: 4 x 4
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Green Flower Season/Color: Cream, Spring
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Green desert spoon contrasts with other gray leaved desert shrubs.
Hesperaloe funifera
Common Name: Giant Hesperaloe
Range: Mexico
Height x Width: 5 x 6
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green Flower Season/ Color: Cream, Spring
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Giant hesperaloe has distinctive large green rosette. Plant away from foot traffic areas.
Hesperaloe parviflora
Common Name: Red Hesperaloe
Range: Texas Height x Width: 3 x 6
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Green Flower Season/ Color: Summer, Reddish Pink
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Red hesperaloe flowers all summer. Flowers attract hummingbirds.
Nolina microcarpa
Common Name: Beargrass
Range: Arizona, Texas
Height x Width: 3 x 6
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green Flower Season/ Color: Spring, Cream
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Beargrass as a similiar landscape use as deer grass, good screening plant, green foilage contrast well with gray leaved shrubs.
Nolina bigelovii
Common Name:
Range: Arizona
Height x Width: 6 x 10
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Light Green Flower Season/ Color: Spring Cream
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: A distinctive tree nolina from western Arizona, great flower show.
Yucca baccata
Common Name: Banana Yucca
Range: Arizona, New Mexico
Height x Width: 4 x 6
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Light Green Flower Season/Color: Spring, Cream
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Banana yucca is a common yucca of the region. Flowers are edible.
Yucca rigida
Common Name: Blue Yucca
Range: Mexico
Height x Width: 10 x 3 Foliage
Texture/Color: Coarse,Blue Green Flower Season/Color: Spring, Cream
Evergree: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: One of the most distinctive yucca with blue green leaves and a great flower show.
Yucca elata
Common Name: Soaptree Yucca
Range: Arizona, New Mexico, Texas
Height x Width: 10 x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse/Green Flower Season/Color: Spring, White
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Full Sun
Notes: Soaptree yucca is the state flower of New Mexico. It has tremendous flower displays in the spring. Yucca is edible and can be incorporated into salads.
Aloe
Aloe barbadensis (vera)
Common Name: Medicinal Aloe
Range: South Africa
Height x Width: 3 x 6
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Gray Green
Flower Season/Color: Spring, Yellow
Evergreen : Yes
Exposure: Yes
Notes: Medicinal aloe is commonly seen in southwestern gardens. It has excellent flower shows and is good for treating kitchen burns and sunburn.
Aloe ferox
Common Name: Tree Aloe
Range: South Africa
Height x Width: 3 x 2
Foliage Texture/ Color: Coarse, Gray Green
Flower Season/Color: Winter, Orange-Red
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Yes
Notes: Tree aloe offers excellent winter for the southwestern gardens. Plant with Euphorbia rigida for excellent effect.
Aloe saponaria
Common Name: Tiger Aloe
Range: South Africa
Height x Width: 1 x 1
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Winter, Coral
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Yes
Notes: Tiger aloe puts on a good spring display, good hummingbird plant.
Ice Plants
Cephalophyllum ‘Red Spike’
Common Name: Red Spike Ice Plant
Range: Cultivar, probably South Africa
Height x Width: 6" x 6"
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/ Color: Winter, Purpulish Red
Evergreen : Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: One of best ice plants for the region, flowering throughout the winter, hardy to frost and endures hot summers.
Dorsanthemum hispidum
Common Name: Pink Ice Plant
Range: South Africa
Height x Width: 2" x 6
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Winter, Pink
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Pink ice plant puts on a good flower show winter through spring.
Maleophora lutea
Common Name: Yellow Ice Plant
Range: South Africa
Height x Width: 6" x 3
Foliage Texture/Color: Coarse, Green
Flower Season/Color: Winter-Spring, Yellow
Evergreen: Yes
Exposure: Sun
Notes: Yellow ice plant's deep green foliage contrasts well with gray-leaved shrubs.

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