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Desert Gardening: Fall Plant Combinations

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Fall plants are some of the most interesting and overlooked in desert gardens. Here are some tips on choosing plant combinations.

The softly textured seed heads of purple three awn contrast pleasingly with purple prickly pear and Angelita daisy.

Because much of the desert Southwest receives around half of its yearly rainfall over the summer months, a good number of plants use that precipitation to put on a fall blooming show. Ornamental grasses are foremost in this category, and paring grasses with other fall bloomers is a win-win for gardeners. Below are a few of my favorite pairings.

Most of the native grasses begin sending up their flowers in late summer and early fall. (People often refer to these flowers as "seed heads" when they talk about grass flowers.) The soft texture of grass seed heads makes them ideal for pairing with succulents and flowers. The photo above shows purple three awn with purple prickly pear and Angelita daisy.


Deer grass arches over black and gold delea.

In the example pictured, the long, wandlike seed heads of deer grass arch over the top of the purple-and-gold flowers of two dalea plants. Black dalea is a small shrub; gold dalea is a groundcover. Small, pealike flowers cover both in late summer and fall.

Sideoats grama with 'Dallas Red' lantana illustrates pairing flowers and textures.

You even can pair native grasses, such as sideoats grama, pictured, with more traditional landscape plants, such as lantana, for a nice combination of flowers and textures. The photo features 'Dallas Red' lantana with the drooping seed heads of sideoats grama.

Gulf mulhy ornamental grass and brittlebush shrub make for a stunning combination.

The combo pictured pairs the stunning gulf muhly (also sold as Muhlenbergia capillaris 'Regal Mist') with a native brittlebush (Encelia farinosa). The silver/red combination is stunning.

Have you discovered favorite fall combinations in your garden?