Southwestern Deserts

August, 2008
Regional Report

Favorite or New Plant

Mexican Thread Grass
Mexican thread grass (Stipa tenuissima) is native to the Chihuahuan Desert and is cold hardy to 0 degrees F. It takes full sun at higher elevations, but does better with partial shade in low elevations. It is a little bit thirstier than some grasses (such as Muhlenbergia) in the low desert, but it is still considered a low-water-use plant. Leaves are a vivid green and the plant grows to 1-1/2 feet tall and wide. In fall, it is covered with feathery golden flower spikes swishing back and forth in the slightest breeze. It seems like it would make a soft bed!

Clever Gardening Technique

Revegetate with Seed Mixes
Green a large area economically with a revegetation seed mix containing some combination of grasses, wildflowers, and shrubs. Be sure to choose one with plants native to your growing region. A source for Sonoran Desert, Great Basin Desert, Mogollon Rim, and desert mountain regions is Wild Seed, from Tempe, Arizona. Call (602) 276-3536 or write P.O. Box 27751, Tempe, AZ 85285 to request a brochure (no Web site). Botanical gardens and arboreta gift shops are another good source for native seeds.

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