Issue: June 30, 2007
Water conserving, non-invasive landscape plants
I recently married a farmer from the Broadview, NM area. I am in the process of moving out there from Clovis. To add color and blooms to an already beautiful caprock setting, I would like to do some planting around the farm. I do not want to plant ANYTHING that would be invasive to the land or harmful to our cattle. These are some of my favorites: Russian Sage, red Salvia greggii, coreopsis, and red Texas yuccas. Would these be safe to plant? I want to use plants that require very little water.
Of the plants you listed only the Russian sage has much chance to be invasive. I've never seen it coming up from seeds, but I can't guarantee that it won't. However, it is well adapted to dry conditions, so you may want to try it and keep the flower heads cut back after flowering. Watch for seedlings to appear and if they do appear in areas without irrigation, you may want to remove the plant. It will spread by underground stems, but not to the extent that it would invade large areas rapidly. It will just become a large clump if it has enough water.
Among the others, the Texas red yucca (or its yellow form) will do best with least water. The coreopsis and Salvia greggii will need regular irrigation. They won't spread beyond where they get sufficient water. All three of these should be quite safe.
Perhaps you will also want to try the red-hot poker plant as well. It should do well with minimum water and not spread readily away from the planting area. These should give you a start and lots of landscape color. Later, you can try some other plants to see which are best for your area.
As you are demonstrating, it is possible to have an attractive, colorful, water conserving landscape. The proper choice of plants, proper preparation of the planting site, and appropriate irrigation and water harvesting will allow you to have a beautiful landscape using little supplemental irrigation.
For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension publications World Wide Web site at http://www.cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_h.
Send your gardening questions to:
Yard and Garden, ATTN: Dr. Curtis Smith
NMSU Cooperative Extension Service
9301 Indian School Road, NE, Suite 112
Albuquerque, NM 87112
Curtis W. Smith, Ph.D., is an Extension Horticulture Specialist with New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service. New Mexico State University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and educator.