Fragrant Plants for the Desert

vegasrenie(8)November 13, 2003

I have planted one type of fragrant flower - Stock - and want more of other varieties, not only to frame the narrow front walkway to my house, but to plant in my relentlessly flat backyard.

Here are my questions:

Is there a vine that's also fragrant that would do well in covering a block wall in the Vegas heat? If not too fragrant, then pretty and hardy would do.

How do jasmines and/or gardenias do in morning sun? The planting area is very small, but has rich soil and is well drained. How about heliotrope?

What would be a good shrub/hedge choice in the backyard that would be scented and also give decent shade for a couple of dogs that need to find shady refuge during the day, LOL?

What would be a good, say, hanging container plant flower for this area? Any suggestions for good night bloomers?

Thanks for any and all information. And if you want to throw in a little info about a couple of good 30' trees (preferably evergreen, not too messy), I'd appreciate it. Also times of planting of all.


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Hi Irene,

Alyssum is fragrant and lines a walkway nicely. It also acts as a living mulch and looks good under roses. Mix in some Dahlias, verbena, Oriental Lily, Iris or annuals for color. They all do better in the desert when planted in alyssum because alyssum shades the soil and keeps it moist and cooler. The plants love to grow in it. Broadcast seed in March. It comes back every year from seeds from the plants. Nice plant.

Gardenias don't like our heat or soil and are a disappointment in Las Vegas. They are a nice houseplant here because they require acid soil and cooler temps.

The jasmines have a short spring bloom season and I find them rangy, ugly and woody in the fall/winter. Plant anytime.

A beautiful fall and winter blooming vine (also comes as a shrub) is Cape Honeysuckle, bright orange flower and a lovely shiny dark green leaf. It has strong shoots and does not vine like jasmines. No fragrance. Plant anytime. Or try Passion Vine, Bower Vine,,, or Lady Banks rose, strong shoots, does not vine, white is fragrant & yellow is not, spring bloomer, tons of flowers. Plant anytime. The trick in Las Vegas is to keep the sun off the soil and this is where the alyssum works well.

Simplicity Hedge Rose grows quickly and there is a picture of them in the Test Garden section of the Gallery on my website. It has no thorns so the pups will not get scratched. Plant anytime.

A good summer night bloomer, a highly fragrant flowered vine, annual and super fast grower, is Moonflower. Plant from seed directly into the ground after March. It can grow more than 6 feet per day with vines over 20 feet. It fills in pretty quick and only blooms on cloudy days and during the night.

All hanging baskets need to have afternoon filtered light and drip watering from a timer. The small amount of soil in the pots dries out here every few hours during the hot days. I hang my baskets on the north side of the porch and in the trees. Dark red, dark orange, geraniums do fine in the sun. I stay away from the pale flower colors in the desert for baskets, the pale pink, yellow and lilac shades don't seem to bloom as profusely in our heat. Verbenas, lantanas, grasses, heuchara (spelling?), alyssum, osteospermum and mini roses in the dark shades grow well in baskets. Add ivy if you have shade. There are lots more.

I can't help you with the trees, unless you like fruit trees. Pines and cypress are evergreen. Usually evergreens are planted away from the house as they block the warm sun in the winter. Deciduous trees are usually planted to shade the house from the summer sun and allow the sun to warm the house in the winter. This can save a lot of heat/AC costs. If you decide to plant a large deciduous tree, a full size apricot is easy to grow and the shape is pretty in the winter even without the leaves. The Royal Rosa variety is a super fast grower. Pretty red blossoms in the spring. I planted a 3 foot bareroot whip last Feb. and it has grown 4 more feet this season. It is now about 7 feet tall.


Here is a link that might be useful: Sweet Tomato Test Garden

    Bookmark   November 14, 2003 at 7:15AM
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Hi Leslie,

Thanks so much for all the information. I really appreciate it! I'm considering planting Hall's honeysuckle along my backyard block wall. I know it's going to be a lot of work - it can grow crazy, but I do like the fragrance and the fact that it's pretty self-sufficient. I'm also considering bouganvillea, since my new neighbors seem to have it everywhere and I love the look even though there's no fragrance.

How does Mock Orange do here as a small hedge? I'm considering pulling out the one privet and replacing it with that, even though I know it has a limited blooming period.

Thanks for the tip on the moonflower. I'll look into it.

The homes in my division are placed at an angle on the lots, which means that there is shade during all hours of daylight, not only from the neighbors' trees but also from the block wall. It's an interesting configuration, but it was really a pretty clever way to make sure that the yards didn't always get beaten by the summer sun. With that in mind, the desire for evergreen tree is just due to laziness, lol, as I don't like raking in the fall/winter! My last home had a fruitless mulberry whose whole mission in life was to keep me raking throughout winter. My favorite evergreens or semi-deciduous trees are Texas Honey Mesquite (my favorite of the mesquites), Australian Willow, or African Sumac. I especially love the cinnamon-y look of the Sumac bark. I don't want any fruit trees unless I can figure out how to grow citrus trees here.

I will also look into the Alyssum. My walkway is very small and I would like to keep a constant array of nice, preferably fragrant plants there. I just removed a trailing lantana, as the foliage odor nauseates me and would fill my house with its smell. (small house).

Thanks again for all the info!


    Bookmark   November 15, 2003 at 12:21PM
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Just bought a cultivar of Texas Ranger from a nursery in Tucson. Silver leaves and deep purple flowers. Extremely tough plant. Flowers smell like grape soda. The nursery is called "Desert Survivors". Well known. Do not know if they ship via mail. Also suggest you try Trichostema lanatum. Stunning plant. No other way to describe it. The flowers, while fantastic to look at, do not smell. Long lasting as a cut flower. The leaves have a scent to die for. Crush a few and you will fill the room with scent. They are native to San Benito County in CA and grow in poor soil on south facing slopes. Needs full sun and perfect drainage. Water every 2 weeks at most once established. 2 blooms per year if you are lucky. I have a 1/3 kill rate and that is down from 50%. Every time I plant one of these, people actually stop their cars in the street to check it out. Another tough plant for sunny areas is Artemsia tridentata and californicus. On a hot day when the sun vaporizes the volital oils in the leaves, you can smell the scent from several feet away. Both are native to CA high deserts. Have you tried Lavenders? They are pretty tough.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2003 at 1:10AM
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I did a quick search on Trichostema lanatum because I never heard of it before ... Wow!! I won't call it gorgeous ... it's so different, gorgeous doesn't quite fit! I want a bunch of these!!! Thanks for the tip; I will continue to search.

    Bookmark   December 3, 2003 at 12:10AM
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diggy800(9 AZ)

Another highly fragrant flowering plant that enjoys sun is Pink Trumpet Vine. It grows very well here in Tucson (similar to Vegas?), attracts hummingbirds, and flowers for a long time summer through late, late fall.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2003 at 5:16PM
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Oenoethera caspitosa, "Tufted evening primrose", is a scented night bloomre.

Chocolate flower (? berlandieri) is a early morning scented like milk chocolate.

    Bookmark   December 18, 2003 at 9:04AM
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cochiseaz8(az 8)

White or yellow honey suckle,, magnolia (if you want a big shade tree,, they are up to 50 feet tall) wisteria purpela, lavendera, (true french lavender) edelwiess, and english lavender come to mind,,, and the smell of chaparrell after a rain is always intoxicatiog mixed with the local sage-brush and purple lilac.... all grow well here in zone 8, dar;ene

    Bookmark   January 1, 2004 at 10:31PM
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Hi all,

I'm wondering if its at ALL possible to grow lilac bushes in Las Vegas Nevada?..It may be on the edge of zone 8, but what if she's really closer to zone 9??....If lilacs can't be grown there, could someone tell me why its not possible??...should I try anyway? I would really like to get my mom a lilac bush..they are her favorite...

    Bookmark   April 23, 2004 at 10:11AM
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Regarding planting lilacs here in Las Vegas It is best to plant them facing the north side of a wall with shade and also shade from the west side. If you plant them where they are exposed to the sun (which is what I did the first time) they will burn.I moved them to where they receive morning sun and have done quite well. I have 2 angel white lilac and 2 sensation lilac bushes. Good luck!

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 7:22PM
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sweetpickle(z7 TX)

Can anyone identify the plant in the photo. It grows wild near my pond in North Texas. The leaves have a strong herbal scent.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2013 at 12:17PM
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I just built a free standing wood pergola that is begging for a proper vine to soften the look. What would be a good recommendation for the right vines that is not too invasive or that attracts bees. I have gardner that comes once a week to help maintain and train. It does not have to be fragrant or any particular bloom, but something that will provide shade and privacy and look good nice. Any recommedation would be greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 8:14PM
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