Arizona Monsoon Season starting – Monsoon weather and information

The word monsoon is derived from the Arabic word mausim, which means season. Traders fishing the waters off the Arabian and Indian coasts noted that dry northeast winds in the winter suddenly turn southwest during the summer, and bring heavy rains to Asia.

what is monsoon

Monsoon Season Winds

We now know that these MONSOON, large wind shifts from dry desert areas to moist tropical areas, occur in other parts of the world including Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona.  Strong yearly variations of temperature over land masses is the primary cause of MONSOON.

Tucson Phoenix Monsoon Season Time

Monsoon Information weather

The monsoon weather in Arizona is not as intense as Monsoon season in Asia and India mainly because the Mexican Pleateau is not as high or as large as the Tibetan Plateau in Asia.  In Arizona, the monsoon process starts with the hot and dry weather of May and June.

Tucson, Phoenix, AZ Monsoon weather storm clouds

Monsoon weather clouds over Coronado Mountains

Usually, the winds are from a dry westerly direction, so humidity is low and temperatures soar above 100 degrees in the deserts.  As the atmosphere warms, the jet stream retreats northward shifting the winds southerly and bringing the moisture.

Most of Arizona’s humid air comes from the Sea of Cortez and the Gulf of Mexico. Our hot desert sun heats the moist air causing the familiar thunderstorm cumulonimbus clouds.

Monsoon weather Arizona storm clouds

Cumulus clouds, Monsoon clouds

Cumulus clouds are a type of cloud with noticeable vertical development and clearly defined edges. Cumulus means “heap” or “pile” in Latin. These clouds are often described as “puffy” or “cotton-like” in appearance.

Cumulus clouds typically form when warm air rises and reaches a level of cool air, where the moisture in the air condenses.

If the top of the cumulus cloud reaches above the altitude where the temperature is at or below the freezing level, then precipitation from the cloud is possible.  The temperature of the air at ground level determines if this falls as rain or snow.

Arizona Monsoon Thunderstorm  dark clouds

Tucson Monsoon Clouds and Winds

Usually by May or June,  our strong Arizona heat causes temperatures to soar over these desert land areas. The intense heat causes surface air pressure to fall, forming an area of low pressure known as a thermal low.

Eventually, the cooler and much more humid air over the ocean is drawn toward the hot, dry air over land. This moist air moving onto the hot land eventually becomes unstable and develops into thunderstorms.

Once this occurs and rain begins to fall, humidity levels increase over land, which only triggers more thunderstorms, now you have the Arizona Monsoon Season.

This cycle will continue until land areas begin to cool in the early fall and the monsoon gradually ends.

Dark Monsoon Storm Clouds Arizona

Thunderstorm cumulonimbus clouds

Until the late 1970s, there was serious debate about whether a monsoon truly existed in North America. However, considerable research, which culminated in the Southwest Arizona Monsoon Project (SWAMP) in 1990 and 1993, established the fact that a bonafide monsoon, characterized by large-scale wind and rainfall shifts in the summer, develops over much of Mexico and the intermountain region of the U.S.

The Gulf of California, a narrow body of water surrounded by mountains, is particularly important for low-level moisture transport into Arizona and The Sonora Desert.

Dark Thunderstorm Clouds Monsoon

Monsoon Clouds moving fast in Tucson

As the Monsoon Clouds began to cover our house, I knew it was time for us to get indoors.

Cumulus Clouds, Thunderstorms in Tucson

Arizona Summer Thunderstorms, Monsoon

Rainfall during the monsoon varies with distinct “burst” periods of heavy rain and “break” periods with little or no rain. Monsoon precipitation accounts for a substantial portion of annual precipitation in northwest Mexico and the Southwest U.S. Southern Arizona can receive over half of its annual precipitation from the monsoon.

Southwest Monsoon weather clouds

Monsoon Clouds

As the Monsoon storm ends the clouds change with red and orange shades on the horizon. I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed creating it.

storm clouds Arizona

Sunset after a Monsoon Storm

dark storm clouds with sunset

Monsoon clouds clearing

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Truly Nolen Classic Cars strike again – These antique cars you can buy

Truly Nolen one of the largest pest control companies in the world was founded in Miami, FL in 1938, by Truly Wheatfield Nolen.

Truly Nolen vintage cars Tucson

1952 Ford, Truly Nolen Classic Cars

He was known for his complete dedication to his customers, said to be a hard worker; spending 7 days a week at building his business. Truly Wheatfield Nolen passed in 1965 but his legacy lives on through his children and his grandchildren. Truly Wheatfield Nolen’s son, Truly David Nolen, runs the business with the corporate office located in Tucson, AZ.

Antique Cars in Tucson

Parked cars with Truly Nolen

Truly Nolen automobiles

1952 Ford Customliner, Classic car

Truly Nolen America was founded by the son, Truly David Nolen who also started the franchise opportunites.

classic Truly Nolen vehicles

Truly Nolen antique cars in Arizona

photo of classic Nolen cars, 1957 Chevrolet

According to Willie Langdon, garage manager for Truly Nolen in Florida. The car restorations are done in the shop at the rear of the offices.

parked classic cars Tucson

Classic, vintage autos with Truly Nolen

Nolen vintage cars for sale

Truly Nolen 1957 Ford Fairlaine

classic cars on Tucson streets

Ford Vintage Cars for sale, Tucson Arizona

There are several shops throughout the country that Truly Nolen owns to restore classic automobiles so advertising can be displayed. The main antique car restoration shop is in Tucson, AZ.

Vintage automobiles in Tucson

A mini classic car – Truly Nolen

Classic automobiles Truly Nolen for sale

1957 Nash Metropolitan, vintage car

These cars are all for sale too. You can check the prices for these classic cars on http://www.trulynolen.com/

Truly Nolen cars autos

1954 Buick Riviera is pictured here

Truly Nolen America and Truly Nolen International are one of the largest family-owned pest-control companies in the world, with some 90-100 service centers and franchises in ten states and more than 41 foreign countries. It was founded in 1938 in Southeast Florida.

Truly Nolen vintage cars

photo of the classic Riviera, Nolen antique cars

Desert Tortoise turtles in Arizona – adoption, difference between male female tortoises

Arizona Turtles, Tortoise – Do NOT pick up the Desert Tortoise unless it is in harms way. The Tortoise will get scared, release the water in its bladder and most likely die during the dry season.

turtles in the desert

Arizona Desert Tortoise, Gopherus agassizii

It is also illegal and detrimental to the desert tortoise populations to collect tortoises from the wild.

Arizona turtle tortoise

desert tortoise have tails

Removing any of the Six species of Arizona’s native turtle / tortoise can severely affect local populations because they reproduce very slowly in natural conditions.

What is the difference between male and female Desert Tortoises, Turtles?

It can take up to 20 years before the Desert Tortoise Turtle starts showing physical characteristics that are typical of the 2 sexes.  The sex of a tortoise is based on the temperature of the nest and NOT genetics.

Phoenix Desert Tortoise

Desert Tortoise in Sonoran Desert, AZ

One way to tell the difference between the female and male tortoise is by the tail.  A male desert tortoise has a larger tail than the female.   The female has a very short tail.  Also, male tortoises have 2 chin glands that are enlarged during mating season.  Sometimes a white gooey liquid comes out of the male tortoise chin glands.

dinosaurs in Arizona

Desert Tortoise at Colossal Cave, AZ

The desert Tortoise is called – a living dinosaur.

TURTLES & TORTOISE facts:

Dinosaurs became extinct but turtles tortoise have thrived in their present form for approximately 150 million years.

The Desert Tortoise is one of four species that have remained unchanged since the Oligocene Epoch  27-37 million years ago.

Arizona Tortoise photos

Desert Tortoise eating cactus

Arizona Game and Fish Department’s TURTLE PROJECT works to manage and conserve all six species of turtles/tortoises.  They receive hundreds of young and adult Tortoises that have been displaced due to construction or raised in captivity. The TURTLE PROJECT has Tortoises available for adoption.

A captive tortoise has to be raised in captivity for the rest of its life.  A desert Tortoise can live up to a 100 years old!

Gopherus agassizii

Desert Tortoise back elephant like legs

If a captured tortoise is released in the wild it can introduce diseases and jeopardize the wild populations.  URTD (an upper respiratory infection) has caused catastrophic die-offs in the Mojave tortoise population, resulting in Mojave Tortoise being placed on the federal listing under the Endangered Species Act. 

If you are interested in Tortoises but are not in the position to adopt, you can still participate in the Sponsor-a-Turtle program.  By donating to the Turtles Project, you will help project biologists purchase specialized gear so that they may continue to plan and implement conservation and management.  Click here to download the Sponsor-a-Turtle program brochure.

Arizona tortoise turtle

Desert Tortoise eating dark greens

A tortoise is a high-domed turtle, with “columnar” legs,  or elephant-like.  It is more terrestrial ( an animal that lives on land as opposed to water) than the turtle is, Arizona Tortoises go to water only to drink or bathe. They are NOT designed for swimming.

When the tortoise/turtle species emerges from winter torpor, brumation it will eat new growth cacti and their flowers, grasses, some shrubs. 

tortoise in Arizona eat prickly pear cactus

Desert Tortoise ate cactus fruit

** What is Brumation – it is different than hibernation; when mammals hibernate, they actually sleep; when reptiles brumate, their metabolism slows down making them less active, and so they just barely need to eat.

male female Arizona Tortoise Turtle

male and female desert Tortoise in Arizona

Reptiles can often go through the whole winter without eating.  Brumation is triggered by lack of heat and the decrease in daylight hours.

A single tortoise may have a dozen or more burrows distributed over its home range. These burrows may be used by different tortoises at different times. Some of their burrows just extend beyond the shell of the tortoise inside.

Tortoise Den in Arizona

Male Desert Tortoise in the den

The tortoise is able to live where ground temperatures may exceed 140 degrees F, because of its ability to dig underground burrows and escape the heat.

Image courtesy of AZ Game and Fish Dept. http://www.azgfd.gov/

Desert tortoises generally emerge from their burrows mid-March to feed. During a roughly six week period fresh green grass and spring wildflowers are their primary nutritional source.

Arizona Tortoise, Tucson Turtle

Gopherus agassizi, Desert Tortoise eat grass

In the Sonoran Desert of Arizona, the tortoises tend to live on steep, rocky hillside slopes in Palo Verde trees/shrubs and Saguaro Cactus areas.

Sonoran Desert Tortoise Turtle

Desert Tortoise in Tucson, Arizona

The tortoise’s forelimbs are flattened with well-developed muscles for digging burrows and the hind limbs are elephantine in which the female tortoise uses to dig her nests.

Desert tortoise turtle

Female Desert Tortoise in Arizona

Desert Tortoise in Arizona

Desert Tortoise Shell

Fighting may occur any time male tortoises encounter each-other. When fighting the desert tortoise/turtle will use the gular scutes to ram and flip other males. A flipped male will usually right itself after the defeat, but if it cannot, the turtles or tortoise will die.

female and male tortoise difference

male on the left and female tortoise on the right

The turtle shell is a highly complicated shield of the tortoise, completely enclosing all the vital organs and in some tortoise/turtle species even the head.

Arizona Desert Tortoise turtle

The Shell of a Desert Tortoise

Helping to make the desert tortoise suited for desert-life is the ability to acquire almost all of its water from the plants that it eats. Because desert tortoises live in an arid climate where most of the rainfall occurs during the monsoons, the Tortoise is able to store water in its bladder for use during drought.

Adult tortoises have very few natural predators because of its thick, scaly skin and hard shell. In the Sonoran desert, mountain lions are the main predators of adult desert tortoises. Worse than predation, however, is the pressure the species is under from development, the construction of roads, and other human activities that degrade its habitat and cause mortality.

tucson tortoise turtle

Desert tortoise eating

Courting, mating and copulation may occur any time that tortoises are above ground; however, there seems to be more of this behavior in late summer and early fall when the testosterone levels peak in male tortoises.

Arizona male Tortoise copulating

Desert Tortoise, Turtles mating

 

Females store sperm and egg laying occurs in May, June and July.

desert turtle young tortoise

small baby desert tortoise

A mature female tortoise might lay 4-8 white, hard-shelled eggs in a clutch and produce 2, sometimes 3 clutches in a season. Only a few tortoise eggs out of every hundred actually make it to adulthood.

arizona young tortoise hatchling

baby desert tortoise

After laying, the female tortoise leaves the nest and the soil temperatures support growth of the embryos. Incubation periods of 90 to 120 days.

Tucson baby desert tortoise turtle

Tiny baby desert tortoise

Slow growth and soft shells make baby tortoises particularly vulnerable to predators.

 

Arkenstone Cave in AZ – Protected living cave at Colossal Park – Research

Arkenstone Cave was discovered near the Rincon Mountains of Southeastern Arizona in the 1960’s.  This living cave is protected by the county and accessible only to a few scientists and researchers.

wet live cave in Arizona

Arkenstone Cave in Arizona

We have spent a great deal of time investigating information regarding Arkenstone and La Tetera Caves.  Our most important finding has been the fact that Pima County regards these living caves as treasure troves of precious, immeasurable scientific information.

Access is extremely limited; but a visit to Colossal Cave Mountain Park Museum can provide the curious with results of the past and latest research conducted inside Arkenstone Cave.

Here are some of the research highlights provided from the Museum Caving Rooms at Colossal Cave east of Tucson, AZ.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park

Arkenstone Cave is used for research

ARKENSTONE is an active KARST CAVE, which means the breaking down of limestone has produced fissures, sinkholes, caverns and underground streams.

Most caves are formed in limestone.  Simply put, it dissolves from precipitation mixing with carbon dioxide and the decaying organic material in the soil.  This dissolution process is extremely slow.  Thousands upon thousands of years!

Arkenstone karst caves

Karst diagram, Limestone Caves

Karst image courtesy of  www.geocaching.com

Arkenstone, La Tetera and Colossal Caves are located in Colossal Cave Mountain Park, Arizona.  Colossal Cave is dry and considered a dead cave.  La Tetera and Arkenstone are alive and adorned with calcium carbonate formations produced through slow precipitation.

SPELEOTHEMS in Arkenstone Cave

Arkenstone Cave Crystal formations

Mineral deposits in caves are called SPELEOTHEMS.

ARKENSTONE CAVE is called:

  • a WILD cave
  • a WET cave
  • a LIVE, “active” cave

What does this mean… A wild cave has no provisions for the general public and is dangerous without expert equipment and experience.  A wet cave has precipitation.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park Caves

Tower Coral, crystal formations on the floor of Arkenstone Cave

A live cave has life forms, insects, faunal, animal, species and unusual speleothems.

Pima County and Colossal Park employees have an overwhelming desire and responsibility to protect La Tetera and Arkenstone living Caves.

research caves protected in Pima County

species found in Arkenstone Cave, Colossal Mountain Park, AZ

Several new species have been found in Arkenstone that are endemic to Arkenstone, meaning they only exist in Arkenstone Cave.  A few researchers have special grants to work in these living Arizona Caves.

In recent years, 7 new species of fauna have been found.  The Arkenstone Cave exhibit at Colossal Mountain Park Museum gives detailed descriptions.

Arizona Wet Caves, Arkenstone

research at Arkenstone Cave

Animals that live in caves are often put in the category called TROGLOBITESTroglobitic species tend to be very unusual organisms.  For example, they may have loss of pigment or no eyes.  These characteristics would be adaptations to their subterranean life.

live caves in Arizona

Pseudoscorpion found in Arkenstone Cave

A previously unknown species of pseudoscorpion was discovered in Arkenstone.  The pseudoscorpion has since been listed as one of Pima County’s priority vulnerable species!

vampire bats in Arkenstone Cave

Bat Bones found in Arkenstone Cave

A small, late Quaternary, (about 2 million yrs ago), deposit of degraded bat guano (poop) in Arkenstone Cave yielded thousands of fossil bat bones.

Colossal Park living caves, La Tetera Arkenstone

Arkenstone Cave Exhibit and research

Rarer bones in the deposit represent a smaller species of bat (Myotis) and the extinct vampire bat Desmodus stocki.

This is the first record of D. stocki in what is now the Sonoran Desert and the second location for the vampire bat species in Arizona.

Rincon Mountains Arkenstone Living Cave

Extinct Vampire Bat found in Arkenstone Cave

Due to leaching in the alkaline cave environment, the bones could not be dated by radiocarbon, but the fossils probably date to the late Pleistocene Age  —  (Late Pleistocene Bats from Arkenstone Cave, Arizona by Nicholas Czaplewski and William Peachey, December 2003)

The Late Pleistocene age was dominated by glaciation  Many larger land animals, MEGAFAUNA, became extinct over this ICE AGE.  Experts estimated that 30% of the Earth’s surface was covered by ice.  Pleistocene vampire bats most likely were capable of surviving in cooler temperatures than the modern bats of today.

The extinction of Desmodus stocki paralleled the extinction of the megafauna.

Pleistoncene Ice Coverage on Earth

Photo of Earth during the Ice Age, The Pleistocene

Research indicates that Arkenstone Cave was the site of a maternity colony of Myotis thysanodes.  Myotis thysandoes is a larger species of bat, mammal.  These bats begin nursing colonies, female nurse bats remain at the roost while other adults are out foraging.

Arkenstone, La Tetera Cave Arizona

extinct vampire bat, Desmodus stocki

Virtually all of the bones collected were of that species.  Remains of Desmodus are consistent with a single individual, and those of a small Myotis (bat) consistent with two individuals (Czaplewski and Peachey 2003).

altruistic example, bats

Arkenstone Cave discovery of extinct vampire bats

Desmodus stocki was 20% larger than the still extant common vampire bat.   Lets put aside the scary name, VAMPIRE, and let me share some benevolent behavior of Vampire Bats that may gain your admiration for the Pleistocene bat, Desmodus Stocki.

Vampire Bats are one of the few animal species that show caring behavior for those beyond their family group.  They even adopt orphaned bats and will share their food.  Look at the photo above for more altruistic vampire ways.  :)

vampire bats, Arkenstone Cave

common vampire bat skull, teeth

Scientists state that fossil records of Desmodus stocki are uncommon because these bats mainly roosted in hollow trees and any remains would decay along with the wood.

Arkenstone Cave Arizona

new species found in Arkenstone and Kartchner Caves

photo above is courtesy of  Journal of Cave and Karst Studies

A new species of Nicoletiidae (Insecta: Zygentoma) has been discovered in Arkenstone and Kartchner Caves.  This species pictured above lives in deeper areas of Arkenstone Cave than it does in Kartchner.
The 2 caves are approximately 23 miles apart and in isolated Karst areas with no possible connection to each other.
Rincon Mountains Caves Arizona

Caves at Colossal Cave Mountain Park

You would think that these would be different species?  But so far the research shows they are the same.  How amazing is that?
caves at Colossal Mountain Park in Vail AZ

Arkenstone Cave

Cave species are very fragile and some live in a specific cave and no where else in the world.   These TROGLOBITES are accustomed to a near constant temperature and humidity.  Even the slightest disturbance can disrupt the life cycles of these amazing species.
Arizona active wild caves, Arkenstone

Crystal formations in Arkenstone Cave

As updated research becomes available we will add new articles.
fringed myotis is found across the western United States.
The fringed myotis is found across the western United States. It has been found as far east as the Trans-Pecos region of Texas during summer months, as far north as British Columbia and as far south as Mexico.
The fringed myotis is found across the western United States. It has been found as far east as the Trans-Pecos region of Texas during summer months, as far north as British Columbia and as far south as Mexico.

Mandevilla on a Trellis – Arizona Desert Garden – Heat Resistant Plants

The MANDEVILLA vine is growing well.  This Mandevilla plant is native to Central and South America – named after Henry Mandeville (1773-1861), a British diplomat and gardener.

Mandevilla, also known as Brazilian jasmineDipladenia,  is a flowering tropical plant that originated in the hills above Rio de Janeiro.

Mandevilla up a trellis front door

Mandevilla, dipladenia vines in containers, trellis

Mandevillas develop spectacular flowers in warm climates. They are perfect here in the hot desert Arizona garden. One of our secrets for cultivating this luscious pink variety (they come in white, red and yellow) is the part shade design.

**We purchased the 4 trellises from Home Depot, bent them slightly to fit the arch and then screwed them together.

An important part of Mandevilla care is the light it receives. The Mandevilla vines need some shade. We used 4 large plastic garden trellises by the front door as you can see in the photo. Mandevilla plants love bright indirect or filtered sunlight, but will get burned in full sun especially this Arizona sun.

Trellis by door for Mandevilla Vines, Bougainvilla

Mandevilla Vines in Arizona

Mandevillas are a vine and will need some type of support, we used garden ties and tape to help train it along the trellis.

Some say the Mandevilla Vine is not a Perennial plant because it will NOT survive if temperatures reach below 50 degrees.  BUT this past winter Southern Arizona reached down to the 30’s and as you can see this beautiful plant is thriving and full of pink flowers. Mandevillas have brought tropical flair to our Arizona front yard and desert garden.

Mandellia plant in pot container

Arch Trellis with Mandevilla and Bougainvillea VINES in pots

Mandevilla plants are critter proof – squirrels and packrats leave this plant alone!

Mandevilla plant in pots

Dipladenia, Mandevilla Plants Vines

There are over 100 species of Mandevilla plants.  The blooms start out as a lighter color and get darker as they age.

Mandevilla Vine in containers Trellis by door

Mandevilla Vine growing in a pot, climbing a trellis

Red Salvia is # 3 – in the top Ten Heat Resistant plants for the Arizona garden

Multitudes of people love Salvia.  These Salvia plants, better known as Sage or SCARLET sage, are indigenous to nearly all continents.

Most varieties of Salvia are heat resistant and drought tolerant along with providing colorful flowers that bloom lavishly.

Salvia varieties of sage

Red Salvia sage in pots, containers

drought tolerant red salvia

Red Sage, Scarlet Sage plants in containers

This plant is easy to grow and Salvias furnish over 900 species; offering amazing potential for your garden!  The lush green leaves of the Salvia plant are so attractive that this Sage looks handsome even when not in bloom.

heat tolerant plant salvia

growing salvia

Salvia is a member of the Lamiaceae or Labiatae family; the MINT family.  Hot temperatures are a considerable concern for our Arizona gardens and Red Salvia loves the heat!

Salvia splendens, Salvia coccinea, Salvia darcyi, Red Salvia, or commonly referred to as Scarlet Sage are hardy, impressive plants and our favorite choice because of their lovely red blooms.   These Red Salvia are not edible like the sage in your kitchen.

red salvia in container

growing Salvia in a pot

Like most Salvia, the fragrant foliage is deer and small critter-resistant.  One of our Scarlet Sage, RED SALVIA, gardens is growing in the open desert and available to all wildlife.  In the past several years, we can report that our desert sage was devoured 1 time by JAVELINA but has been left alone ever since.  Most likely the Salvia made them ill.

red salvia darci

red salvia is a heat resistant plant

A location with full sun is the best choice for most salvia varieties but some are shade tolerant.  Our Salvia located in part shade did not make it through the winter; on the other hand, the salvia plants in sunny locations come back year after year.

squirrel proof plants salvia

Salvia sage plants are critter proof

When the flowers are spent the Salvia will self-sow its seeds! Take a look at the photo below. No worries about Salvia being intrusive:  you can easily transplant the seedlings or share them with friends.  Simply pull up your unwanted plants.

baby salvia seedlings

salvia seeds itself

Sometimes called Autumn Sage, Red Salvia blooms continually from spring through fall. A garden plant “must have” that is perennial and hardy in Tucson and Phoenix.

Arizona red salvia in a pot

growing salvia in containers

Can you grow Salvia in pots and containers?  Absolutely! We have several different pots with gorgeous Scarlet Sage blooming throughout the yard.  Our favorite color of Salvia for our garden is red but many cultivars offer pastel blooms such as pinks and blues.

The main difference with growing Salvia in containers is:  1)  the plants need to be watered more often      2)  several of the small shrubs needed replaced after winter

red salvia in Arizona

salvia, Scarlet Sage plants in containers

The abundant showy flowers produce a good amount of nectar making them attractive to hummingbirds and some people have named salvia: HUMMINGBIRD SAGE.

red salvia plant seeds for finches

salvia plants attract small birds

Goldfinches and other birds visit the Salvia plant to pick out the tiny brown seeds hidden in the calyces.

garden plants to attract birds

birds eat salvia seeds

Deadheading Salvia encourages more blooms and more birds!  It can be so fun watching the Goldfinches pick out the seeds.  Salvia plants can get pretty tall and unshapely.  Prune the salvia stalks back for fresh growth and new blooms!  We trim often to keep a fuller shrub and nice shape.

red salvia desert garden plant

salvia, Red Hot Sally Sage varieties

colors of salvia heat resistant plants

red and blue salvia plants

Hardy Salvia has been a jewel in our garden and definitely worth a try. :)

desert plant with red flowers

Red Salvia, Salvia darcyi

 

Pruning Bird of Paradise – Orange, Red and Yellow Flowering Bushes AZ, TX, CA, Mexico

Red, Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise plants, shrubs thrive in hot conditions and, once established, they are drought tolerant plants, with fern-looking leaves and orange, red or yellow flowers.

yellow flowering shrubs

Mexican and Red Bird of Paradise bushes

When do you prune desert bird of paradise?  Pruning your Red Bird of Paradise Caesalpinia pulcherrima , should be in late winter or early spring. Use a good pair of garden shears.  My Red Bird of Paradise bushes are pruned about 16-18 inches from ground level.

Phoenix Tucson bushes shrubs flowers

Pride of Barbados, bushes with red orange flowers

The Yellow and Mexican Bird of Paradise need very little pruningCaesalpinia gilliesii, Bird of Paradise Bush, or sometimes called Yellow Bird of Paradise or Desert Bird of Paradise is a shrub that has been naturalised (planted so as to give an effect of wild growth)  in Texas, and fairly common with some year, in the future,  being considered native to the southwestern US.  In the photo below see the yellow bird of paradise, Caesalpinia gilliesii.

bushes with long red string things

Yellow Bird of Paradise Flowering Bush

This yellow flowering desert shrub has clusters of beautiful yellow flowers with long red stamens.

varieties of bird of paradise plants

long red stamen on Yellow Bird of Paradise plants

The Yellow Bird of Paradise is a fast growing, upright shrub that is originally from Argentina.  Pruning your Yellow Bird of Paradise bush will encourage dense growth. This long-lived, drought tolerant shrub is very durable and cold, heat tolerant.  Exposure to full sun is best for Bird of Paradise Plants.   All parts of the yellow bird of paradise shrub are toxic.  The Yellow Bird of Paradise can grow to the height of 10 ft.

bushes shrubs with bean pods

Yellow Bird of Paradise

Plant Yellow Bird of Paradise in full sun locations. This desert shrub does fine in any well-drained soil including rocky, native soils.  In the Spring, prune to remove dead or damaged stems.  In the summer water your Yellow Bird of Paradise every week.  Water it deeply to stimulate a long taproot.  Once established the Yellow Bird of Paradise will need less water.

Caesalpinia gilliesii, yellow bird of paradise

This is one of several desert plants that I recommend for people who want flowering plants that are perennial (you need to plant them only once), hardy, low care, relatively drought resistant (I water couple times a week, depending on the temp).

When you do water your Bird of Paradise, soak them because the bird of paradise will establish an efficient root system including a strong taproot.   They are easy to find, inexpensive, and provide bright color over and over through the year.  The Red Bird of Paradise is a winner for your Arizona or desert Garden!

Red Bird of Paradise, red, orange and yellow flowers

The Red Bird of Paradise is a fast grower, and will get large!  The bird of paradise is hardy and does well in any soil, but the better drainage you have the healthier the plant will be.

Texas bushes with orange red flowers

Red bird of paradise shrubs grow large

Bird of Paradise plants look bare during the winter but they always come back strong and healthy! The seeds and bean pods are poisonous so be careful your children and pets don’t eat them.

Red Bird of Paradise is very hardy and drought tolerant once established. (they can have very long taproots).  With a little mulch at the base, they come back year after year.

Texas bushes with orange flowers

Red Bird of Paradise is also Pride of Barbados Bush

bushes with red orange yellow flowers

To germinate the Red Bird of Paradise seeds, I simply soak the seeds from the bean pods in water for 24 hours.  I put them in peat pots, barely cover the seeds.

Peat Pots

If you decide to use the paper towel method to germinate your Bird of Paradise seeds, when the white shoot appears, plant them with the white root DOWN. Cover the seeds lightly with damp vermiculite. Red Bird of Paradise seeds need at least 8 hours of sun, but not direct sun it will be too hot! You can start to give them a little more direct sun after the first leaves appear.

I’ve heard people in AZ refer to this red and orange desert bush as the Mexican Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia mexicana). The actual Mexican Bird of Paradise has yellow flowers and is larger. Being native to Mexico, Caesalpinia Mexicana  is the real Mexican Bird of Paradise. It is larger with  ROUND leaves but can be pruned into a smaller tree.

Mexican Bird of Paradise, can be pruned into a small tree