I absolutely love and respect the native plants of southern Arizona. They are a precious resource for wildlife. Many are in decline in their natural habitat due to multiple factors, including climate change, and it’s extremely popular to landscape with strictly native plants as a result.
I talk with many customers who know of these issues but are just not ready to rip out their beloved grass or flowering shrubs native to elsewhere, in order to fill in with a less profuse (in their eyes) native plant.
I tell them this. If you really love the plants you have, then keep them by all means. I would never rip out a plant that’s doing well and thrives with our Arizona heat and droughts. Native plants can happily coexist with non-native plants.
I instruct them to fill in with natives in and amongst the other plants. And actually, you are doing a good thing by mixing the two in my opinion. In a designed landscape such as a town park or your home’s garden, by mixing native plants with non-native plants that thrive in our area, you will be increasing the biodiversity of forage resources and shelter over longer periods for pollinators. By doing so, your garden can support a more diverse pollinator community at times.
Also, the established, more robust growing non-natives can help create a microclimate for more sensitive baby native plants which helps them get established. It would be kind of the same principle as a nurse plant in nature.
But beware of invasive species that could spread out of your yard and end up in the natural landscape. I would not recommend any plant that has this potential, nor any plant that requires massive amounts of water. Do try and stick with plants that will thrive through drought, sun, heat and cold here in the Patagonia area.
If you desire a plant that requires more maintenance, then put that one near your home where it will get the extra water from your roof dripline or on your patio in a pot where you can tend to it more easily.
Native plants, when irrigated, can be aggressive and full growers and flower just as profusely as any non-native plants, I might add. So, if you plant natives in your landscape, which I hope you will, don’t forget they need ample water and care to get established and flourish, even when they are deemed drought tolerant.
Side note: Don’t forget to leave your leaves in your yard as mulch. Practice “chop and drop” when cutting back dead branches and leave them as a layer of debris that serves as mulch and habitat for beneficial insects and soil organisms.
What to plant in November: from starts, plant lettuce, spinach, arugula, chard, virtually any leafy greens; garlic, spring flowering bulbs, wildflower seed, native grass seed, perennial plants, herbs and shrubs, evergreen trees and shrubs, and deciduous trees of all types. Our winters are never so cold that our ground stays frozen, giving us this opportunity to keep on planting.
If you’d like to pick up a few plants for your landscape or houseplants for inside your home, please come see me at the Patagonia Plants nursery located at 308 Naugle Ave in Patagonia. I have a variety of plants, trees, shrubs, seasonal annuals, vegetable starts and herbs.
Looking for gifts this holiday season? I have many “planty” gifts and gift certificates. Staring Nov. 25, we will have living Christmas trees available. Please call or email me with any questions. Thanks for reading and Happy Fall!