When people think about color in landscape plants, they often think about flower colors rather than foliage. Professional landscapers consider how plants will look throughout their lifecycle. That includes seasonal blooms, whether the plant remains evergreen or drops leaves, foliage, and surrounding features like gravel or surrounding buildings.
Using Green in Xeriscape
In xeriscape, many shades of green are possible. This is because plants have developed different adaptations for our desert climate.
Pastel or silvery green reflects sunlight to protect the plant from absorbing too much heat. Desert morning glory, lavender, globe mallow, and many varieties of sage are just some examples of striking light-colored foliage.
Small leaves can be very dark in color, because they accomplish a lot of photosynthesizing in a small amount of surface area. Fairy dusters and yucca have small, but vibrant leaves.
Broad leaves often adapt by folding or turning, so that they look lush when the weather is cooler and slightly less so during the hottest times of the day. Lantana demonstrates this behavior.
Tapered leaves, like oleander, align vertically instead of being spread out, allowing them to be deep evergreen without getting too much sun.
Cactus plants possess incredible adaptations. Prickly pear is generally light green, and saguaros boast light green as well. But you can see darker green in species that cast shadows on themselves due to an accordion-like shape, like the organ cactus. Light-colored spines function not only to deter predators, but also to protect the darker plant matter beneath.
Tropical and sub-tropical plants like birds of paradise require more water, but they often offer deep green leaves.
Thanks to biodiversity, we have a great palette to work with. Mixing and matching colors in the landscape involves color theory and composition, just like any visual art. Texture, size, and shape add even more dimension. Start with what you love, and consult with a professional landscaper to learn about your options.
Questions? Call (602) 439-5192 to Talk to a Landscape Specialist