Plants We Love: Black dalea or black prairie flower

Plant name: Black prairie flower or black dalea

Botanical name: Dalea frutescens

Description: A low, mounding shrub with feathery foliage, black dalea grows in dry limestone from the Trans-Pecos east to Austin and north to Oklahoma. From late summer into fall the flowers obscure the foliage; they resemble feather dalea’s purple pea-like blooms without the plumes. Like feather, silver and Gregg dalea (D. formosa, D. bicolor var. argyraea, and D. greggii), black dalea prefers to grow in full sun in poor, well-drained soils and resents fertilizer and overwatering. The only maintenance necessary after it’s established is to shear the foliage relatively severely in the winter or early spring to keep the dense shape. It is an excellent low maintenance groundcover, useful for erosion control on rocky slopes, or in areas of reflected heat. It is cold hardy to about 15 degrees F.

Plant habit or use: Groundcover, small shrub

Exposure: Full sun

Blooming period: summer into fall

Height: to 3 feet

Width: to 5 feet

Heat tolerance: very high

Soil requirements: neutral, alkaline adaptable

USDA Hardiness Zones: 6-9

Information courtesy of Texas Native Plants Database and Dave’s Garden. Image courtesy of Marcus, Joseph A. (Austin, TX) via The University of Texas at Austin plant database.

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