Rubber Rabbitbrush, Chamisa
With intense sulfur-yellow flowers covering its gray-green foliage, blooming Rabbitbrush demands to be noticed. Flowers last from August through October, with the seed heads providing interest all winter. Branches rising from a woody base form bushes up to 5 feet tall and wide. When not in bloom, the rounded crown and muted foliage impart a subtle, natural appearance to the garden.
Chamisa, as it is also known, is native to arid parts of the West, where it survives up to 9,000 feet. Rabbitbrush prefers alkaline, well-drained soils, but tolerates a wide range of conditions, even a blistering southern exposure. New plants should be deeply watered every few weeks during the first two years to establish a deep root system. From then on, no irrigation is needed. Bloom is on new wood, so prune back lanky plants as needed while they are dormant. Plants grow quickly and live for years.
Rabbitbrush should be planted with other extremely xeric plants. With its vivid flowers, try combining it with Russian Sage or natives such as Giant Sage, purple asters, and grasses.
Article and photo by Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener