ASK CARIANNE – How to make the most on a tight budget

Posted Apr 24, 2021

Gail asks: I want to add some native plants to my landscape, but I am on a tight budget. How can I make the most of just a few perennial plants?

Thanks, Gail

Dear Gail,

I have found that in my yard, there are a few plants that I have put in that re-seed themselves readily, becoming the plants that keep on giving. These plants are really great because you can buy one, but over time you will have several – that is a good value!

I think my favorite native plant that fits that bill is Goodding’s verbena (Glandularia gooddingii). It grows well in filtered shade, or full sun with a little extra water. Just this morning I noticed two little sprouts, one already blooming – from a plant I had a few years back. They will become wonderful mounding plants with purple flowers that will attract butterflies and many other insects to the garden!

Some other “value” plants are evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) – an early morning bloomer that will attract moths and Parry’s penstemon (Penstemon parryi) – as well as other native penstemons. There are so many others, including snapdragon vine (Maurandya antirrhiniflora) and globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) – but one of my favorite secret spreaders is wild petunia (Ruellia nudiflora). This small plant does well in the shade of a mesquite or paloverde, and soon you will notice it moving about. I had one in a pot on my patio, and now several of my pots also sport wild petunia!

The photo is from the Tucson Audubon garden (University & 5th Ave) – a great place to see these natives in action.

Good luck and happy planting,