Xeric and stylish gardening in San Antonio, Texas

Gomphrena ‘fireworks’ love affair…


August 2013 closerThere is no doubt it looked cool.   August 2013The gomphrena filled in massive areas quickly, cheaply, and with next to no supplemental water. Gonphrena 'fireworks' groundcoverIt also added non-stop color and a whimsical element to my front garden.  But as demonstrated above it started to eat up everything else in the garden, and …well, truth is, this non-native beast was frightening me.  I did not want to contribute to this species taking over San Antonio!  I plant mostly natives…what was I thinking?!One plantThis is ONE plant.  Seriously.ZZ topHere is my ZZ Top moment ;).  Anyways….ONE PLANT.  Flat out scary.  Look closely at the last two photos…see all the white stuff that looks like snow, well, those are all seeds (zoom in on the fluff – is that not nuts!)!  And they have started sprouting!

The “quick fix” of planting this annual to fill up space quickly was not, in my opinion, a good choice.  I think it was rather irresponsible to plant so many actually.

Lesson learned!

And I am sure to re-learn this for years to come as I pull up volunteers…urgh!  Needless to say, I replaced all of them with Texas natives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Your photos are so amazing. It is so enjoyable to see the change and progress you have made in your landscape over time.

    • Thanks, Charlie! It keeps us going on the landscape and home improvements when we look at the progress the pictures show. Momentum …- xericstyle

  2. You’ll probably find it difficult to find something native that flowers for all that time? An annual probably isn’t going to cause major environmental issues, but that said, I think planting natives is the best way forward for us all.

    • Good point – and I totally agree. Especially the way it bloomed in the dead of summer nonstop. I may plant one again in the future…just not 20. The color sure is pretty! – xericstyle

  3. Wow, that sure is one big plant! My soil is probably not as deep as yours leading me to think it might not be such a rampant grower here. I’ve got it on my list to try next summer. Thank you for your always interesting posts and photos.

    • Yes another great point! Maybe on shallower soil it would be a different plant. Thanks for pointing that out – I can only account for my own experiences. My soil is DEEP and clay. This land was miles of cow pasture before 1960 (our house was built in ’61)….and a man-made lake was apparently right under where my neighbors house is! -xericstyle

  4. Ugh! Looks like a tedious job. I learned the hard way how difficult it can be to deal with an aggressive plant when I planted Mexican Petunias. Never again! At least gomphrena is an annual and not a perennial. They looked beautiful when they were in bloom. Interesting history about your neighborhood. I do remember someone telling me that area was one huge ranch back in the day.

    • So you know exactly where I am at, Steph! :) -xericstyle

  5. Oh my! A friend of mine planted that Gomphrena and pulled them when it appeared that it might smother everything in its path. Still, it’s tempting for that flash of effortless color. I hope you don’t have to spend the winter pulling out seedlings.

    • Yay! so validating! Thanks Kris! -xericstyle

  6. Ha, that look on your face is priceless! I disagree with Christina’s comment that “an annual probably isn’t going to cause major environmental issues.” Bastard cabbage is an annual from southern Europe and you see it EVERYWHERE in the spring. http://texasinvasives.org/plant_database/detail.php?symbol=RARU. I doubt if Gomphrena will ever be that invasive. I grew the purple round flowered one for a couple of years before I went nuts for natives. I removed them because the seeds seemed to be a favorite of rats and mice. I would always find piles purple flower pieces with all the seeds removed and rodent droppings nearby.

    • I really REALLY appreciate this info., Michael. I do NOT want rats/mice…YUK! -xericstyle

      • P.S. Are you a teacher?

  7. I can’t help feeling a little sad that the Xericstyle love affair with ‘Fireworks’ is over. It is soooo pretty, especially massed as you’ve done. But yeah, it can be scary when a plant takes over. I did that in my former garden with orange cosmos. Boy, did it fill in my baby garden quickly, and so colorfully! But after two seasons (see? I’m a slow learner) I couldn’t take it anymore and ripped them all out. I pulled cosmos seedlings for the next couple of years, but I finally got it all. So, what are your plans for that space now?

    • Hey Pam :) – I am sad too. but like you, I just couldn’t take it anymore and felt like I saw the writing on the wall for a real problem. I mass planted gulf muhly – all around those two front beds, and within them in a grid. I think this suits the more subdued and modern look I am going for in the front garden. -xericstyle

  8. Maria

    Our new house here was overrun with Mexican Petunia and I am still pulling them out. Thanks for the advice on Gomphrena. I was going to get some this year, but not now. I just bought some seeds of African Daisy Orange and Red Hot Poker from outsidepride.com. I will start some seeds in last week of February and see what I can do to improve my yard planting beds.

    • I am looking forward to seeing that in a blog post :) -xericstyle

  9. That is huge, definitely will remember to keep them out of my yard!

    • Hey Adam! You know…as Ragna mentioned in her comment below, it is likely soil related. I have very deep, amended clay. Perhaps in shallower, less fertile soil, you will be okay? If you try it, just don’t plant over 20 like me! EEK! -xericstyle

  10. Oh no…that’s so sad…they were so beautiful! Still, I totally get where you are coming from. I planted one plant (ONE PLANT) of Impatiens balfourii a few years ago…also an annual here. I now have MILLIONS (not kidding) of seedlings every year…and they show up all across the garden…I have no idea how they get there. They even sprouted and grew on a sweater I accidentally left in the garden over a weekend! What are you replacing them with???

    • I believe you! Seems like we are ‘on the level’ with this one, Scott. Thanks for the support! :) …a sweater?! Man! HAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaa! I mass planted native gulf muhly in a grid all around and within the beds. I think I will add coneflower too, and that is it. I am going for an easy on the eyes look in the front garden. It is kind of my take on prairie although I am not sure ‘in the wild’ those plants would be the only ones massed in real life. I hope this works out this time around and gives the look I am going for. Happy Holidays to you and Norm! -xericstyle

  11. Oh my…they were so beautiful but onto new additions. I planted Houttuynia cordata (Camelion Plant) one year in my own gardens and it spread like wildfire so I pulled it. Some of the fun of gardening is trying something new so onto new discoveries!

    • You are very right about that! I have enjoyed all the learning and the growing… -xericstyle

  12. jennifer

    I just found your blog and love it. I found you through Pam @ Digging. ;) I LOVE fireworks! I bought 3 small ones one year and saved all the seeds to replant in mass. Its in a corner of the yard that really needed some “pop” so far its been one of my favorites for its ease.

    • Thank you, Jennifer! I am so glad you are here. I do love fireworks for its ease, that is for sure. I just don’t think I should have planted so many…so close to granite paths…EEK! -xericstyle

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