Even on the hottest days of summer, the color white adds a special coolness to the environment. White flowers bring out the brightness of other colorful flowers, especially those in pink, purple and blue. Following are a few favorites for the desert’s hot-season landscape.
• Gaura, also called “Whirling Butterflies,” develops a set of long wispy flower stalks ending in a profusion of small, star-like white flowers springing from pink buds. Delicate stalks moving with the lightest breeze appear to be displaying graceful white butterflies on the wing.
• Artemisia is a perennial plant valued for its cooling gray-green foliage with minute hairs making the leaves appear silvery-white. It is upright with an open, loose form approximately 3 feet high and wide.
• White Desert Plumbago, a tidy, round native shrub is covered with dense, glossy green foliage and intermittently year around produces clusters of small bright white petaled flowers. Cold hardy to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, in winter its leaves surprisingly turn a deep red, contrasting with the pure white blossoms.
• White Cloud Texas Ranger, covered with gray leaves and dense, pure white flowers, stands out among its many cousins with their lavender, pink, blue, and purple blossoms. When left unpruned, this bush will mature at 8 feet high and spread.
• Dusty Miller, a native Italian perennial, is appreciated for its velvety soft, white, finely divided leaves. This compact plant matures at roughly l foot high and wide, so is perfect for growing in containers.
When considering options for your fall planting, why not include some with soft, white foliage or flowers. Next summer you will be glad you did!
Mary Kidnocker is a University of Arizona Master Gardener who lives in the Green Valley area.