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Desert Gardening: Plant Combos for the Southwest

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Striking combinations add zing to your garden and hone your creative skills.

Mixing pink penstemon with spiky nolina contrasts colors and textures.

I never get tired of putting plants together in my garden. Seriously, the process is fun. You can indulge your creative self by combining plants.

Although it won’t bloom until spring, now is the time to plant penstemon. One of my favorites, canyon penstemon (Penstemon pseudospectabilis), is shown above, shooting up through the spiky leaves of a nolina plant. In the background is a prickly, globe-shape hatpin barrel cactus (Ferocactus rectispinus). This combination is a good balance of soft and hard textures, with hot pink mixed with silver foliage.

Bluebells and sundrops are best planted in fall or early winter.

Another spring combination best planted in fall or early winter is the excellent combination of sundrops (Calylophus hartwegii) next to desert bluebells. These two put on an intense yellow-and-blue show. You can purchase sundrops as gallon-size perennials, but desert bluebells are very easy to raise from seed.

Silver (dichondra) and purple (moss verbena) groundcovers mix strikingly well.

Who can resist purple and silver? I certainly can’t. If you need a groundcover for a spot with partial shade, this combination might do the trick. Both these plants are groundcovers. ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra is a silver creeper; moss verbena, with its green, ferny leaves and purple flowers, proves an excellent companion for silver plants.

Vining snapdragon doubles up with ocotillo to increase interest.

One of my favorite tricks with plants is to double up to increase interest. In the case of this ocotillo, which is a living fence, I’ve used a vining snapdragon (Maurandya barclayana). The snapdragon vine adds another color of green, as well as deep-purple flowers.

Part of what is so rewarding about pairing plants is the combinations are endless. There is always something new to try with something else.

What combinations get your creative juices flowing?