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Fuzzy gray-green leaves give woolly stemodia its name. In bright sun, this creeping groundcover's leaves appear almost white. Native to Texas and northern Mexico, it thrives in dry, sandy soil. Plant it in a mixed border where it can ramble among the nearby plants. Or add it to a container planting where it will spill over the edge of the pot. In mild winter areas, it will stay green year-round. In other areas, it will die back but quickly unfurl new leaves when spring hits.
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A magnificently sculptural plant for the desert garden, sotol has striking straplike blue-green leaves that make it look a bit like yucca or agave. The evergreen foliage is thin like an ornamental grass and has a pleasing fine texture year-round. Plant it where the sun can shine through the leaves in early morning or late evening, highlighting the plant's pretty silhouette. Sotol grows best in full sun and gravelly, sandy soil. Once established, it has good cold tolerance, but be sure to give it extra protection during the first winter after planting.
A wonderfully diverse group of plants, prickly pear cacti include some of the few hardy species for cold-climate gardeners. The plants are known for their spiny, paddle-shape leaves and colorful summertime cup-shape flowers. Most types grow best in full sun and gravelly, well-drained soil.
Delicate and airy, gaura is known as 'Whirling Butterflies', inspired by its dainty, dancing butterflylike flowers. It has long reddish stems that bear loose panicles of flowers, which open from pink buds. In beds and borders, they are best massed for greater effect or can be planted in small groups among shrubs. Gaura prefers rich, well-drained soil; it will not tolerate wet feet. Cut back by half after the first bloom flush for rebloom. It grows best where nights are cool.