Apache Plume Shrubs Are Showy, Native Western Favorites

Updated on April 21, 2018
Casey White profile image

Dorothy McKenney is a former newspaper reporter turned researcher. Her husband, Mike, is a professional landscape/nature photographer.

Apache Plume Flower in Bloom

The Apache plume flowering at its most beautiful best.  This is an ever-blooming flower that has five showy white petals.
The Apache plume flowering at its most beautiful best. This is an ever-blooming flower that has five showy white petals. | Source

A Native Plant in the Southwest

Native to the Southwest, the Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) is a small deciduous to semi-evergreen shrub with shredded bark and beautiful white flowers, such as the ones pictured within this article. The plant derives its common name from the long, feathery plumes and is grown throughout all four Southwestern deserts, including the Sonoran, Mojave, Chihuahuan, and the Great Basin. You can find them growing from southeastern California and southern Nevada all the way to southern Colorado and west Texas. We have them here in New Mexico, where the photographs were taken, and they can also be found in Arizona and the northern part of Mexico. They grow on dry, rocky slopes, arroyos, and pinyon-juniper woodlands at elevations from 3,000 to 8,000 feet.

Apache plume flowers are in the rose family.

Pink, Silky Plumed Seed Heads

These white flowers are their most gorgeous when the pink, silky plumed seed heads are formed, covering the tips of the branches of the shrub.
These white flowers are their most gorgeous when the pink, silky plumed seed heads are formed, covering the tips of the branches of the shrub. | Source

Sowing Seeds

In order to grow Apache plume plants from seeds, you need to collect them in the fall. They need to be chilled for about three months before they are sown in the early spring.

The Apache plume grows up to about six feet tall with an equal spread width, so be sure to plant it in a location where it can reach its full potential. Always be aware of surrounding structures and/or other plants. And, don't forget that the Apache plume shrub should always be planted where it can receive lots of sunshine (preferably full sun).

If you are planting this shrub as a part of your landscape, you should plant it on the south or western part of your yard, in whichever area receives the most sun and gets the hottest in the summertime. The Apache plume requires sandy, extremely well-drained soil in order to survive and it won't tolerate growing in an area that stands in water.

Note: If you prefer, you can buy mature plants in containers at local Southwest nurseries. They are considered a "waterwise" plant (plants that are naturally drought resistant and require little watering once established) and are usually found in a section with other similar plants.

Caring for Newly Planted Apache Plume

Watering - Weekly watering is sufficient for newly-planted Apache plumes, but when the plant becomes established you can reduce watering to about once a month in the summertime and whenever there is a drought. Otherwise, watering is not necessary. When the plant is established, you will begin to see new leaves and branches begin to grow.

Fertilizing - In the early spring when new leaves start to grow, you will need to fertilize your Apache plume by spreading about a tablespoon of 10-10-10 slow-release fertilizer (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) around the outside perimeter of the plant. Apache plumes need to be fertilized in the early spring when the new leaves begin to grow. Mix the fertilizer with a rake into the soil about 2-3 inches deep, then water it in.

Pruning - Pruning needs to be done twice a year - in the late winter when the plant is dormant and in the early summer after it blooms. In the winter, cut off any broken or diseased stems, making each cut slightly above a growth node (or bud). Don't prune, however, any more than about a third of the plant, being careful to take the older stems first. After the plant blooms in the summertime, trim any gangly or long stems to keep the shrub shaped nicely.

You can create a low-watering area of your landscape by planting other drought-tolerate plants close to your Apache plume shrubs.

The Many Advantages of Apache Plume

  • Apache plume shrubbery and flowers are deer and rabbit resistant, but they do attract butterflies and birds.
  • A native evergreen plant, it is very low maintenance.
  • They are perfect for a rock garden and are excellent for erosion control.
  • They are often used for hedges and screens when separation/privacy is needed.
  • It is an ever-blooming shrub.

Shelter for Wildlife

The Apache plume shrub provides shelter for wildlife and the seeds are extremely attractive to birds in the area. You should also begin to see many more butterflies if you plant Apache plume shrubs as a part of your landscape.

Rank - Scientific Name - Common Name

  • Kingdom - Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom - Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision - Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division - Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class - Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass - Rosidae
  • Order - Rosales
  • Family - Rosaceae – Rose family
  • Genus/Species - Fallugia Paradoxa – Apache plume

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Mike and Dorothy McKenney

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