This is one part in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Community Favorites, 75 can't-fail, easy-care plants well-adapted to our region and recommended by local gardeners.
Pink mulla mulla
Ptilotus 'Platinum Wallaby'
Size: Under 2 feet tall
Bloom season: Spring, summer, early fall
Exposure: Full sun
Pruning needs: Little or none; remove spent flower stems.
Water needs: Once established, water deeply every one to two weeks.
Snapshot: Here's a garden conversation starter. From spring through early fall, this odd Australian native pumps out lilac-pink bottlebrush-type flowers covered with fine hairs. Combined with its silver foliage, the funny flowers give mulla mulla an eye-catching sparkle that looks great in drought-tolerant gardens. A ground-hugging shrub, mulla mulla thrives in sandy but well-drained soil.
It grows well in containers, too, but can be sensitive to hard frost. You can see specimens in the arboretum teaching nursery on the UC Davis campus.
Why it's a favorite: "Thrives in hot, sunny locations," said arboretum volunteer Chris Denton. "Good drought tolerance. Unique pinkish-purple blossoms shaped like little thatched huts bloom nonstop all the summer."
For more on the Community Favorites and Arboretum All-Stars, click on http://arboretum.ucdavis.edu