A living valentine for the low desert

A lasting gift of love

Judy Mielke

Plant a valentine for your sweetheart in February-- Eremophila 'Valentine'. This Australian shrub adds a bright burst of late-winter color in low-desert gardens. Flower buds start appearing in December, followed by a profusion of red tubular blossoms that open from February through March. 'Valentine' has proven hardy to 25º and may tolerate even lower temperatures. The rounded shrub reaches 4 feet tall with a 5-foot spread.

In the landscape, plant 'Valentine' with shrubs that bloom in different seasons, like Texas ranger and Mexican bird of paradise, to create a succession of color. The medium-green foliage also makes a handsome backdrop for bold-leafed plants such as agave.

Nurseries sell 'Valentine' in 5-gallon containers for $17 to $20 each. If you can't find it, ask your nursery to order from Mountain States Wholesale Nursery in Glendale, Arizona. Plant 'Valentine' in full sun. Water once or twice a week during the summer, less often in the cool months. Lightly prune the branches in early April to promote new woody growth that will bear next year's blooms.

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