Low growing evergreen shrubs are excellent players in minimal maintenance landscape design anywhere. Adding bright blooms and vibrant colored fruits that have continual presence most of the time just sweetens the attraction for homeowners. Lucky you, your Glendale landscaping is well within the hardiness range of the Carrisa macrocarpa ‘Tuttlei’, as is the rest of the area around Phoenix and Scottsdale.
Since shrubs used in our xeriscaping landscaping in these parts tend to be quite large, you’ll find lots of great places for this spreading low evergreen. More commonly known as the Natal Plum, this plat originates from the shores of Southern Africa. It is naturally acclimated to the heat and arid conditions of this region of Arizona. It can also tolerate the cold desert winter temperatures and doesn’t need shelter from the midday sun.
While the Tuttle Natal Plum is drought tolerant, here in the desert it will need light, regular watering. The small leathery shape of the leaves and their dense growth habit makes this plant a great landscape shrub for both shearing and soft natural shape in your planting areas. Since it’s mature size is 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide, its also just right for planting beneath windows and close to the street. There’s no need for harsh shearing annually to maintain the view.
The star shaped white blooms are open and charming, creating a lovely contrast to the rich deep green foliage. They will be borne quite abundantly in all day sun, followed by bright cranberry red fruits that are edible. The flowers are nice sized at 2 inches wide and the fruit will be that long when ripe. As the season progresses there will be times that both blooms and berries are present together, heightening to color in the yard.,
The flowers of this Carissa are sweetly fragrant like orange blossoms and the scent is strongest at night. Be sure to find a spot in your Glendale landscape design that’s close to the patio, in the courtyard or beneath the right windows to enjoy the perfumed evening air to the fullest. You won’t want to plant this shrub next to the walkway or pavers though. It has less thorns than most Carissas, but they are there nonetheless, so be sure to place them where they won’t accidentally come into contact with those passing by.
Many people make jams and jellies from the Natal Plum fruit. They’re delicious eaten straight off the shrub with a sweet cranberry type flavor. Unless you’re going to plant a lot of these Arizona landscaping shrubs, its best not to plan on whipping up a batch of jam. Enjoy them as periodic treats from your easily managed desert plants.
Image courtesy of briweldon, CC by 2.0