The Cliff Rose is an Arizona native, found in elevations from 3000 to 8000 feet in elevation on rocky slopes. This is probably not a good choice for low desert areas, but if you live in the Tucson area above 3000 feet, or are a resident in communities near Tubac or Rio Rico, this is a shrub worth considering.
The Cliff Rose is a slow growing shrub, reach about 6 feet tall and wide. Slow growing translates to a long life. The branches are twisted, giving this evergreen shrub a unique form. There are cream colored flowers appearing in the spring through the summer, which are followed by feathery plumes of seed heads.
Plant the Cliff Rose in full sun and in soils that drain quickly. Do not worry about amending the soil for natives, in fact, it’s not recommended amendments be added to any landscape plants.
Other cold tolerant plant choices include the Velvet Mesquite, Texas Ranger and the tough Turpentine Bush.
Reference: Mountain States Wholesale Nursery and Gregg Starr Nursery Plant Info Sheet, 1999.
The Velvet Mesquite is one of the best desert trees we have for colder climates of the southwest. Tough, long-lived and fairly fast growing provided you give it supplemental water, the Velvet Mesquite will mature at about 25 to 30 feet tall and wide. The mesquite is not fussy about soils, and will thrive in both sandy and clay soils alike.
There are so many Texas Ranger species to choose from, selecting the right leaf and flower color may prove challenging. However, the room you have to plant will probably make the decision for you. Since it is never recommended to prune a Texas Ranger, select one that will mature to the right size without pruning.
The Turpentine Bush is a shrub native to the Southwest, and is found in the foothills of surrounding mountains. This tough, medium size shrub is bright green and matures at about 4 feet tall and wide. It looks so much like the Chrysactinia in size, sometimes they are hard to tell apart.