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Fall Gardening with Native Plants

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Summer monsoon season is winding down, and we’re heading into the glorious fall season. This year has been challenging in so many ways, but the biggest twist few predicted was one of the driest first halves of the year on record, followed by record breaking July rains (over 20 inches at the nursery) that were the best summer rains received by Patagonia in over 20 years. These rains kept us stuck on the wrong sides of washes and forced us to take the long way around creeks. As the rains take a break, plants stop growing by leaps and bounds, and really push their spectacular blooms, dazzling the hikers and plant lovers of the region.

Hopefully you’ve been using this fresh and plentiful rain to establish some seeds and plants in your landscape, backyard, or moving your houseplants outside for a rainy drink. If you have an outdoor garden and live in the mid to high elevation ranges of southern Arizona (3,500 ft +) your planting window narrows in the fall, as we await the first freezes of early November (sometimes late October).

Our fall plant sale on Saturday, October 9 from 8am-4pm, is a great time to stock up on native plants to get them established in the landscape before the close of the season if you live in the mid-elevation Sky Island areas. If you live in Tucson, you can plant through the winter and most native plants will tolerate being planted around some of Tucson’s freezes if protected.

This is a great time to plant and think ahead to spring, address nectar gaps you may have, or if you have been planting for pollinators, see if you also have some fruit bearing plants such as Lycium berlandieri (Berlandieri Wolfberry) to also provide berries for birds and other wildlife.

We will have a large variety of plants and seed available at the sale, all at 10% off. A few of our favorites are Salvia amissa (Santa Catalina Mountain Sage), one of our favorite sage blooms, Datura quercifolia (Oakleaf Datura), an annual and uncommon Datura species that we offer in seed packets, and Muhlenbergia rigens (Deergrass), one of our best selling and lush perennial native bunch grasses that we use generously for both restoration and ornamental landscaping alike.

Salvia amissa, or Santa Catalina Mountain Sage, is a perennial endemic to southern Arizona first found in the Santa Catalina mountain range. Although no longer found in the Santa Catalinas, it grows between 1500-5000 ft in elevation. The pale blue flowers bloom June through September. Plant in sandy or silty soils. Full sun to part shade.

Salvia amissa by Linda Kennedy

Datura quercifolia, or Oakleaf Datura, is a bushy annual wildflower that has large, oak-shaped leaves and produces showy, tubular lavender and white flowers that are pollinated by moths when it blooms May-October. This plant grows up to 3 ft tall and has a sprawling growth habit. It can be found on roadsides and in disturbed soils at 4000-7000 ft. Reseeds readily!

Datura quercifolia by Patrick Alexander via SEINet

Muhlenbergia rigens, or Deergrass, is a perennial bunchgrass that reaches up to 5 ft in height. Deergrass can be found along gravelly or sandy canyon bottoms or washes, often in moist soil, at elevations ranging from 3000–8500 ft. The densely clumped stems can be seen in bloom July–October. Transplants well, preferring sandy soils adjacent to or in areas that receive periodic flooding, or provide periodic deep watering for best growth.

Muhlenbergia rigens photo by Max Licher via SEINet

In addition to our Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, October 9, you can order plants online for pick-up at the nursery. You will be notified when your order is ready for pick-up at the nursery, or you can shop in person on Tuesday - Friday between 9AM – noon (if the road is passable after a rain). You can also order plants online to be delivered to Exo Roast Co. in Tucson on Saturday, September 18, Saturday, October 23, and Saturday, November 13 with pick-up between 10AM - Noon. To order for Tucson pick-up put “Exo” and the date of pickup (9/18, 10/23, or 11/13) in the notes section at checkout.

Visit our website to view our inventory.


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