In desert regions, tamariskshave no equal in resistance towind and aridity, and they willgrow in saline soils that aretoxic to other plants. They arealso useful in other areaswhere wind, salt, and poor soilpose challenges, such as seacoastgardens. They demandonly a full-sun location withgood drainage. On the minusside, this same tenaciousadaptability makes several ofthese species seriously invasivepests in the West’s naturalareas, especially along watercourses.Millions of dollars ayear are spent removing them.Because of deep taproots, nurseries can’t hold them inpots. But they are easy to growfrom 1/2–1-in.-thick cuttings setin the soil where the plant is togrow and is kept watered untilroots are established.
Tamarisks are difficult toclassify, which has led to muchconfusion in labeling amongbotanists and in nurseries.Leaves are tiny, as are flowers(a hand lens is necessary tosee flower details). However,you don’t have to know a tamarisk’sidentity for pruning purposes.If it blooms only in theearlier part of spring, pruneafter bloom. If it starts bloomlater in spring or in summer,prune just before new springgrowth begins. The first twospecies described here can bekept shrubby by cutting back toground yearly. If you are growingthem as trees, prune only toremove dead or broken branches.Tamarix parviflora
Native to southeastern Europe.Variable habit; typically a graceful,arching large shrub to 6–15 ft. tall and wide. Profusespring-only display of pink flowersthat turn to tan, then brown.Prune to emphasize archinghabit; or remove lower branchesto achieve a treelike plant. Aninvasive pest plant in deserts,wetlands, and riparian habitats.Often sold as T. tetrandra; soldas T. africana in California.
Lilac flowers in fall. Orange-red stigma is the true saffron of commerce. To harvest saffron, pluck st...
Pinkish purple flowers are held on weeping, contorted branches; best with afternoon shade.
‘Sterntaler’ has yellow flowers with a reddish brown circle in the center.