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What is Dalea?

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  • Written By: Vasanth S.
  • Edited By: Kathryn Hulick
  • Last Modified Date: 13 June 2018
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Dalea is a plant genus that is part of the Fabaceae family. It contains about 62 species of flowering plants that are native to the United States. Some of the species include D. frutescens, D. formosa, and D. greggii. The bloom season for plants in the dalea genus varies; some bloom in the spring, while others bloom in late summer to early fall. Also, dalea species are used in a wide variety of applications including xeriscaping, which is landscaping with drought tolerant plants without the use of irrigation.

Dalea frutescens, which is also referred to as Black Dalea, is a deciduous round shrub that is native to the western portion of Texas and New Mexico. It grows three to four feet in height and width and features dark green leaves that have a fine texture. From August to November, bright lavender colored flowers bloom in clusters.

D. frutescens is a very hardy plant that can tolerate temperatures down to 15°F (-9°C) and survive through droughts. For best results, the plant should be located in an area that has a lot of sunlight. It can thrive in a shady location, but the stems won't branch out that well. D. frutescens is tolerant of most soil types, as long as there is adequate drainage. The plant requires very little water, but when given additional water, it takes advantage of it and grows more vigorously.

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Overall, D. frutescens is a low maintenance plant, requiring only an occasional pruning. The plant is usually propagated by cuttings. It is great as an informal hedge and is ideal for xeriscapes, since it requires very little water.

Another hardy plant within the dalea genus is Dalea formosa, also known as the Feather Plume. Generally, this perennial shrub is found in Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico. It can tolerate high temperatures and temperatures as low as 0°F (-17°C). The shrub grows three feet (1 m) in height, with a spread of four feet (1.2 m), and features light green leaves, each with several leaflets.

D. formosa can survive in poor alkaline soil, as long as it has good drainage. The plant is found in dry areas, usually on rocky slopes, so it is acclimated to harsh conditions. It requires very little water, but does require full sunlight for optimum growth. In the spring and summer, a cluster of violet-yellow flowers bloom on spikes. The plant is an ideal ground cover or border shrub.

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