Better Than Mothballs

800px-Hyptis_emoryi_5.jpg

Desert Lavender
Hyptis emoryi
Lamiaceae

  • About 6-10' tall, half as wide, easily pruned to smaller dimensions

  • Purple flowers, spring - fall

  • Magnet for butterflies & bees

  • moderate to low water user (terrace zone)

  • Full sun

  • Hardy to about 25°F

  • Larval food for gray hairstreak

Seldom found in Arizona landscapes, desert lavender (Hyptis emoryi) deserves a lot more attention. This species can grow to a fairly large size if left unpruned--about 10 feet tall and about half as wide (they have an upright-growing habit). However, plants are easily pruned to keep to much smaller dimensions and are more often found at about 2-3 feet tall and wide. Once established, they can tolerate the hottest spots in the landscape, and with little extra water. Full sun is suggested for best-looking plants and some supplemental water keeps them lush, so long as the drainage in the soil is good. While tolerant of heat, temperatures below 25°F will damage plants (they can grow back from frost damage if the cold spell doesn't last too long. 

 GREY HAIRSTREAK

GREY HAIRSTREAK

Butterflies and bees love desert lavender, and the gray hairstreak caterpillars feed on this species. Humans use desert lavender in teas, smudges, and as a moth repellant (bundles of desert lavender are put in drawers and used like mothballs, but smell much nicer). Caterpillers of the gray hairstreak feed on desert lavender. 

Katherine Gierlach