Yucca includes an impressive number of North American arid plants native to desert regions. They all demand a relatively sunny site although some will produce larger and softer foliage but few flowers in drier, lightly shaded positions. Sometimes known as Spanish Bayonet or Spanish Dagger, these common names refer to the long, narrow, occasionally sharp pointed leaves that create impressive, architectural clumps.
Giant branching flower spikes rise above the foliage from spring through early autumn. Individual blooms are bell shaped, usually creamy white, mildly fragrant and about the size of a large egg. Most impressive for the Mediterranean or Spanish garden. Excellent in containers and good in almost any soil that drains freely.
Zephyranthes, the Storm or Rain Lily, is a dainty member of the amaryllis family. These bulbs have thin grassy leaves that die away with the summer heat. Flowers usually appear in late summer or early autumn ( any time in tropical gardens). They appear after warm, late summer rains.
Bulbs can also be forced in containers by keeping the plants completely dry for about three months then flooding with water. Excellent in the border, rockery or terracotta container. Z. candida, a lovely white form, multiplies quickly while pink Z. rosea is hardy.
Zinnias come in many forms and colours. These Mexican American natives are famous for their spectacular show of flowers produced over long, hot summers. Giant State Fair can reach 2m while Thumbellina is a tiny treasure.
Provide full or part sun and a moderately rich soil with good air circulation. While they respond to extra summer watering during dry periods this is best kept off the foliage. One of the most easily grown and showiest annuals for really warm soils.