Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) Plant Care Guide
Fallugia is a monotypic genus of shrub containing the single species Fallugia paradoxa, which is known by the common names Apache plume and ponil. This plant is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, where it is found in arid habitats such as desert woodlands and scrub.
Fallugia paradoxa, the Apache plume, is an erect shrub not exceeding two meters in height. It has light gray or whitish peeling bark on its many thin branches. The leaves are each about a centimeter long and deeply lobed with the edges rolled under. The upper surface of the leaf is green and hairy and the underside is duller in color and scaly.
The flower of the shrub is roselike when new, with rounded white petals and a center filled with many thready stamens and pistils. The ovary of the flower remains after the white petals fall away, leaving many plumelike lavender styles, each 3 to 5 centimeters long. The plant may be covered with these dark pinkish clusters of curling, feathery styles after flowering. Each style is attached to a developing fruit, which is a small achene. The fruit is dispersed when the wind catches the styles and blows them away.
The Fallugia paradoxa plant is considered valuable for erosion control in desert areas where it grows.
- Jepson Manual Treatment – Fallugia paradoxa
- USDA Plants Profile; Fallugia paradoxa
- Fallugia paradoxa – Photo gallery
The Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa) is most identifiable by its purplish-pink featherlike seed heads that appear on the heels of tiny white spring blooms. This extremely drought-tolerant shrub belongs to the Rosaceae, or rose, family. Its mature height is 6 feet with an equal spread. It is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 10. Landscape uses for the Apache plume include mass plantings, xeriscapes, hedges and borders.
1 Plant the Apache plume in a south or west portion of your landscape that receives the warmest temperatures. Choose a spot that receives full, direct sunlight and contains extremely well-draining, sandy soil. Space the plant 6 feet away from other vegetation.
2 Water young, newly planted Apache plumes once a week. Flood the soil surrounding the shrub with a garden hose. Reduce supplemental watering once the shrub becomes established and starts to produce new foliage and stems. Water mature, established shrubs once a month during hot summer months and periods of no rainfall
3 Fertilize the Apache plume in the early spring when the plant is no longer dormant and new leaves begin to emerge. Apply a 10-10-10 (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) slow-release fertilizer at a rate of 1 tablespoon per square foot of soil. Spread the fertilizer evenly in a ring around the shrub, just outside the perimeter of the plant’s branches. Mix the fertilizer granules into the top 1 to 3 inches of soil using a rake. Water the area thoroughly to activate the fertilizer.
4 Prune the Apache plume in the late winter while it is still dormant. Cut out any broken, damaged or diseased stems using a pair of pruning shears. Make each cut 1/4 inch above a growth node or dormant bud. Thin the plant by no more than one-third, removing the oldest stems first.
5 Trim the shrub in the early summer after it flowers. Clip back any excessive long or straggly stems to shape the plant and keep it looking presentable.
Things You Will Need
- Garden hose
- 10-10-10 low-release fertilizer
- Pruning shears
- Plant Apache plume with other drought-tolerant plants to create a low-water section in your landscape.
- Taylor’s Guide to Shrubs: How to Select and Grow More Than 500 Ornamental and Useful Shrubs for Privacy, Ground Covers, and Specimen Plantings; Kathleen Fisher
- Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines: A Guide to Using, Growing, and Propagating North American Woody Plants; William Cullina
- Colorado State University Extension: Apache Plume
- Texas A&M University Aggie Horticulture: Apache Plume, Ponil
About the Author
Jessica Westover began writing professionally in 2010. She has worked at various greenhouse production facilities and more recently as a personal banking assistant for Zions Bank. Westover graduated from Brigham Young University Idaho in 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in horticulture and a minor in accounting.
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