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Tips for Growing Apache Plume

Written by Stephanie on January 2nd, 2014

Apache plume is an extremely drought tolerant shrub belonging to the rose family.  It is hardy in zones five through ten.  Apache plume is native to the Southwest. It grows throughout all four southwestern deserts — Mojave, Chihuahuan, Great Basin, and Sonoran with a range from southeastern California and southern Nevada, to southern Colorado, west Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, to northern Mexico. Its habitat is arroyos and dry rocky slopes in pinyon-juniper woodland at elevations of 3,000-8,000 feet.

Apache plume is characterized by purplish-pink feathery seed heads that appear after white blossoms in the spring.  Occasionally, it blooms again in the fall.  Apache plume grows to six feet tall and has a six feet spread, so be sure you plant it somewhere that it can grow to its full size without crowding structures or other plants.

Apache plume should be planted in the full sun.  Plant it on the south or west part of your landscape, whichever is the hottest in the summer.  Apache plume requires sandy, extremely well drained soil to live.  It cannot tolerate wet feet.

Apache plume can be grown from seed.  To do this, you must chill the seed for three months in the refrigerator before planting it in the spring.  However, it is easier to buy a one to five gallon shrub at the nursery and plant that.  They are often in the water wise section of the nursery.

To plant a one gallon plant, dig a hole that is as deep as the root ball and twice as large around.  Spread the roots out after placing the root ball in the hole to maximize root contact with the soil.  Fill in the hole with the dirt that came out of it.  Do not use amendments such as potting soil to fill in the hole.  This will cause the roots to grow in a circle and girdle the plant.

Water newly planted Apache plumes weekly.  When the plant becomes established and new leaves and branches start to grow, reduce watering to once a month during the summer and when there is a drought.  Otherwise, it is not necessary to water Apache plume.

Apache plumes need to be fertilized in the early spring when the new leaves begin to grow.  Spread one tablespoon of a 10-10-10 fertilizer in a circle around the outside perimeter of the shrub.  Mix the fertilizer in the top one to three inches of soil and water it in.

Apache plume needs to be pruned twice a year.  In the late winter, when it is dormant, cut off any broken or diseased stems.  Make each cut one quarter inch above a growth node or bud.  Prune no more than one third of the plant, taking the older stems first.

In the early summer, after the Apache plume blooms, trim any straggly or excessively long stems to keep the shrub in a nice shape.

The flowers of Apache plume attract bees and butterflies, the plants shelter wildlife, and the seeds attract birds.


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