Nevada's divergent terrain ranges from 470 feet above sea level in Clark County's desert to more than 13,000 feet at Boundary Peak. Its deserts and valleys average 9 inches of annual rainfall. Its mountains have received 45 inches of snow in one day. Low humidity and cool nights makes summer daytime temperatures--often reaching over 100 degrees--tolerable. Extended periods of sunshine mean Nevada gardeners have a wide choice of high-performance landscape plants.
Prickly Pear Cactus
Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia polyacantha) grows throughout the state. The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension recommends it as a landscape plant for the high-risk fire areas in northern Nevada. The color of its spring flowers depends on where it grows in the Silver State. Northern Nevada's soil produces plants with deep pink to red blooms, while the state's southern gardeners will get yellow or peach flowers.
Prickly pears have sharp spines. Plant where blooms will be noticeable but thorns won't endanger passersby. Small cacti--6 and 8 inches high and 1 foot wide--they need full sun and dry, loose, sandy or gravelly soil. Water biweekly only when summer is at its hottest. Pieces that drop off the plants will root where they fall.
Oleander (Nerium oleander) is a flowering evergreen shrub standing 4 to 8 feet high and up to 5 feet wide. It's garden-hardy in southern Nevada's USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 to 10. Use it, says the Missouri Botanical Garden, in foundation plantings, hedges and screens. In containers, it will overwinter indoors in colder parts of the state. A round shrub, oleander has 5-inch glossy lance-like green leaves. In summer and fall, it bears profuse clusters of white, pink or purple trumpet-shaped flowers.
Garden oleander likes full sun to part shade and average soil. Give it an additional 1 to 2 inches of water per week in prolonged drought, says the International Oleander Society. Container plants like rich, well-drained soils. Prune oleander in late September or early October to shape it and produce more flowering. All its parts are toxic to animals and people if ingested.
Desert marigold (Baileya multiradiata) is a mounding plant 12 to 18 inches high. Its lower half has dense branches with woolly gray leaves. Stems rising above the foliage nearly cover the plants with 1- to 2-inch bright yellow daisy-like flowers. They bloom from March through the heat of Nevada's summer and into the autumn. Desert marigold grows in great numbers along Nevada's roadsides. Plant it in part shade and dry, sandy or gravelly soil. Plants in wet soil, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, are susceptible to crown rot.