This unthirsty native thrives by the pool

Sharon Cohoon,  – October 18, 2004

Able to thrive in full sun and reflected heat, lady’s slipper (Pedilanthus macrocarpus) makes the perfect poolside companion. The succulent shrub’s waxy 1/2-inch stems even have a “wet” look. The stems remain bare most of the year. Reaching 3 feet tall and as wide, this unthirsty native of Mexico gets by with only twice-monthly irrigation. Hummingbirds adore its tubular, orange-red flowers, which appear in spring and fall. P. macrocarpus also makes a handsome accent in containers and is a good choice for the light shade under desert trees.

Lady’s slipper is suitable for Sunset climate zones 12 and 13. Its frost-tender tips get burned when the thermometer dips to 28°-30°, and temperatures in the low 20s will kill the plant. Look for plants in 5-gallon containers at garden centers.