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03.07.2015 admin
In the desert, what we lack in fall color and summer-blooming perennials we more than make up for with the wide range of succulent foliage plants that thrive here. Octopus agave (Agave vilmoriniana), right—leaves that undulate like octopus tentacles make this agave a favorite.
Twin-flowered agave (Agave geminiflora), right—Deep-green straw-shape leaves and a tolerance for shade makes this agave excellent for planting beneath the canopies of desert trees. They come in all sizes, from tiny 6-in plants to 15-ft monsters—and you can find species for nearly every cold-hardiness zone in the Southwest. Mexican blue yucca (Yucca rigida)—A trunk-forming plant with straight powder-blue leaves. Slipper plant (Pedilanthus macrocarpus)—A vase-shape plant comprising snakelike tubes, topped with orange-red hummingbird-attracting flowers.
Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens)—Long, zigzag semisucculent wands characterize this icon of desert landscapes. While there are many trees, shrubs and flowers that can survive a chilly Minnesota winter, it is useful to know exactly which ones these are before you purchase your plants. The new USDA plant hardiness map for 2012 indicates that Minnesota growing zones include 3a and 3b in the northerly regions, 4a in the middle of the state and 4b in the south.
Your local greenhouse will generally carry plants that are suitable for your growing zone; however, it is always advantageous to check to be sure that they will thrive in your region. Although other factors affect the vitality of plants such as humidity, rain, wind, soil type and general plant care, the USDA plant hardiness map provides useful information for novice and experience gardeners alike. When you are selecting plants for your garden or backyard, it is important to know your hardiness zone and choose plants that thrive there. Plants that are hardy in Zone 1 accept the coldest temperatures, while plants in the higher zones only survive in warmer areas. If you live in Zone 8, your region has mild winters with the low temperatures between 10 and 20 degrees Fahrenheit (10 and -6 C.).
In this zone, you can put in your vegetable seeds early enough to contemplate successive plantings. Salad greens and green leafy vegetables, like collards and spinach, are also cool-season vegetables and will do well as Zone 8 plants. If you want something different, branch out with persimmons, pineapple guava or pomegranates. Lowe’s Southeast region garden expert explains why these stalwart perennials are invaluable additions.
One grass gaining popularity in the Southern landscape is purple muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris).

Muhly can look great as one of three accent plants in a garden—it's best to plant it in odd numbers in an asymmetrical landscape. You might even use it as a living trellis for morning glory or another delicate vine, as seen here. Passion flowers are vigorous vines, native to the Americas, which give your garden a tropical look. The genus Passiflora has some 400 species, most native to tropical and subtropical regions in the Americas. Of all the species of Passiflora, only one, Passiflora edulis Sims, has the exclusive designation of passionfruit, without qualification.
Another very common type of passion flower vine in the United States is the one native to Texas, Passiflora incarnata.
If fragrance is your primary concern as you are selecting among the different types of passion flower vines, consider Passiflora alatocaerulea.
Another of the hardy passion flower types, Passiflora vitifolia offers brilliant scarlet flowers with yellow filaments and edible fruit.
Blue passionflower (Passiflora caerulea), with 3-inch blue and white blossoms on a fast growing vine.
They tend to be rosette shaped, and offer varieties that thrive in different sun exposure situations. There are vividly colored varieties, like the tuxedo spine prickly pear shown, right, and most also bloom in late spring.
In early spring, before leaves emerge, the tubular red flowers attract migrating hummingbirds.
The Minnesota USDA plant hardiness map provides information based on average winter low temperature data collected over a 30-year time period. An extremely tiny pocket of warmer winter low temperatures exists in the most southerly location and is categorized as 5a. USDA Zone 8 covers most of the Pacific Northwest and a great swath of the South, including Texas and Florida. Most Zone 8 areas have temperate summer climates with cooler nights and a long growing season.
When you are growing plants in Zone 8, you can plant most of the familiar garden vegetables, sometimes even twice a year. Sow these seeds early – in early spring or even late winter – for good eating in early summer. Plants can include a vast variety of perennials, herbs, trees and vines that thrive in your backyard.

This is best done as a two-person chore, with one person holding the grass in a bunch, and the other person carefully using manual hedge clippers or electric hedge trimmers to cut the stalks. It starts out as a small, unassuming green grass in spring, but it really comes into full glory in fall, when its wispy plumes take on a smoky-pinkish hue. But it really looks stunning when planted in masses and backlit by a rising or setting sun.
This big heavyweight can reach 8 or 10 ft tall in a few years, including the tall stalks of puffy blooms, and gets a few inches wider each year. Passion vine flowers are vividly colorful and the vines of some varieties produce passion fruit. You’ll find two forms of passion vine flowers within this species, the standard purple and the yellow. The edible portion consists of small black seeds, each covered with a juicy, fragrant orange pulp.
Especially when we consider the broad spectrum of succulent foliage plants that thrive in the region such as prickly pear cactus, agave, and yucca species.
They come in many forms, from low-growing rosettes to hulking, treelike plants that form shaggy trunks.
Leave plenty of room, as mature plants can reach 18 feet high and up to 8 to 10 feet across. To find your growing zone on the Minnesota planting map, enlarge the map above and look for your general area. Department of Agriculture divides the country into hardiness zones 1 through 12, based on the winter temperature in the different regions.
Most grasses offer interesting tufts of blooms that begin in summer and last until it’s time to cut them down in late winter to encourage strong new growth in spring.
Cut it down to 2–3 ft every winter, and divide it every few years to keep it in check. Different types of passion flower vines are available in commerce, some hardier than the native varieties. Errors will be corrected where discovered, and Lowe's reserves the right to revoke any stated offer and to correct any errors, inaccuracies or omissions including after an order has been submitted. I believe that, after trees, succulents are the most important category of plants in creating a successful desert garden.

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