Spring time in Arrowhead is always filled with colorful flowers and allergy medication.
Chris Zukowski is a member of our Everything Arrowhead Facebook group, and he has posted some wonderful explanations of the different plants blooming in the neighborhoods the past few months.
I found them to be very helpful and educational, and with his permission, I’m sharing them here for everyone.
From May 12th: What’s blooming in Arrowhead? Red Yucca aka Hesperaloe Parviflora (if you are feeling fancy).
Ok I debated posting this one because this plant is not from our Sonoran desert (the best desert). It is actually from the Chihuahuan Desert over in Texas. But this thing blooms like crazy this month. I love it when it is planted in huge colonies like in this picture because all those flowers look so good together.
If you have one lonely hesperaloe in your yard, go plant some friends around it so next year you have an awesome blooming field like this one I found on Arrowhead loop.
From May 5th: What’s blooming in Arrowhead? Palo Verde!
This tree is proof that the desert isn’t all browns. The desert is super colorful! It is vibrant! It is also Arizona’s State Tree.
Now this tree gets unfairly blamed for causing allergies. But is physically can’t cause them because it has sticky, oily, pollen that is designed to stay in the flower until a bee comes in and then it gloms on to its legs. That is how it reproduces. What is actually causing allergies is rag weed and grasses which have wind-blow pollen that fills the air with allergy causing nastyness. Wind blow polinators don’t need bees, they just blow their junk at each other and we are caught in the cross fire.
So unless you are jamming a Palo Verde flower up your nose and smearing sticky pollen on the walls of your sinuses, don’t blame Palo Verde. People just assume it is Palo Verde making them sneeze because they are so vibrant and easy to see and the bloom timing perfectly aligns with that of wind-blown pollinators.
From April 19th:
What’s blooming in Arrowhead? Yucca! You might have noticed that a few plants that look like agaves have these huge plumes of white flowers coming out of them. They aren’t actually agaves but cousins; Yuccas don’t have spines. I always thought the flowers looked like Barbra Streisand’s hair. They only bloom this month so keep a look out.
The amazing thing about yucca flowers is you can eat the petals. They are really good. Seriously, try one. They taste like a crisp endive or an artichoke heart. Pick a couple, wash them, chop them up and add it to a salad. Or if you are on a run through the neighborhood you can just nab a couple as a quick pick me up. You can even fry them (picture included). Great way to impress your dinner party guests.
From April 12th: What is blooming in Arrowhead? Texas Ranger!
Well soon… Ok you probably have a Texas Ranger bush in your yard right now and it is just a green shrub. But when the summer monsoon comes in July it triggers the bush to explode into an amazing firework of purple flowers (See pic #1)
HOWEVER, if your gardener shapes the Texas Ranger into a ball shape, he is cutting off all the buds before they bloom. The second image (the one with the emoji) was taken on the same day as the one with all the flowers. It is the same species but notice how it has like 4 flowers? SAD! Cutting your bush into a “Meatball” means you miss the wonderful summer blooms.
How to fix it? This is the last month to tell your gardener to cut your Texas Ranger down to the stump. Cut every branch off. It will look sad (See image #3). But they grow back fast (notice how it already has 1 little clump of leaves.)
Then tell your gardener not to touch it for the rest of the year. No more shearing, no more “trimming.” Just leave it alone. Tell him not even to look at it! The bush will grow back from the stump in long straight branches by July. Just in time for Monsoons and you will get that beautiful purple flower explosion. But you have to do this full cut back this month because your bush probably won’t grow back in time for the July and August bloom season.
So long story short: Tell your gardener to cut your texas ranger down to the stump NOW and then tell him NOT TO TOUCH IT!
Side note: If you use this “natural” style of growth, Rangers only need to be pruned once every 3 or 4 years. You could save SOOOO much money on gardening expenses. Most gardeners actually do the meatball prune so they can charge you every month to keep it looking tight. So save money, get blooms, and have a great summer! Win!
If you decide to take the restorative prune challenge this year, post a picture of your stump in the comments below!
From March 29th: What’s blooming in Arrowhead? Stink Net unfortunately!!
Watch out!! there is this plant that has these pretty spherical yellow flowers but is totally invasive and crowding out our native desert plants. It can also cause eye irritation and when it dries it is fuel for wild fires. Also it just smells like paint thinner when you mess with it.
If you see this plant on your walks pull it (unless you have bad allergies then wear gloves or give it a chemical spray). This is bad folks. It is like the walking dead invasion in the plant world. We gotta pull these now before they go to seed and have a bigger invasion next year.
Destroy this plant. It is all over thunderbird park and abandoned lots. Not good.
Here is a article about stink net.
From March 21: What’s blooming in Arrowhead? Globemallow!
This Arizona native plant loves old abandoned lots but you should totally plant it in your yard because it is beautiful. The flowers are so bright and colorful almost fluorescent this time of year. Growers have managed to breed several color varieties but you can only tell what color you get if you buy them at bloom (which is right now). If you are a crazy man you could just take a chance and buy one pre bloom not knowing what type of flower color you will get but that kind of behavior is only for really hard core folks who live on the edge (you probably have a pony tail or a pierced ear.)
I found a huge field of them in the lot behind the New River walkway behind the Dream City Church. But you can also see a ton of them on the coachwhip trail in the Thunderbird conservation park.
Also bonus fact is that bees take naps in globemallow flowers (photo proof included but it is not my photo) here is an article about it. Never have I wanted to be a bee more.
So go get inspired by wandering around some abandoned dirt lots and then consider planting a bunch of them in your own yard.
From February 28th:
What’s blooming in Arrowhead? Texas Mountain Laurel! The desert is super colorful and capable of beautiful displays like this large bush or tree (depending on how you prune it). I noticed they started blooming this week and they only do this in March. So go out and take a look while the blooms lasts. If you can, get up close and smell the flowers; some people say it reminds them of grape soda but my nose isn’t refined enough to smell it.
This also makes a great smallish tree that wont take over your yard.