Hummingbird Mint

Agastache ‘Vivid’

Orange and pink-flowered Agastaches attract hummingbirds, while blue-flowered ones are favorites of butterflies and bees. Gardeners love them all.

  • Plant Form: Perennial Herb
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3 ft. tall x 2 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Summer – Fall (July – Oct)
  • Native to: Hybrid of parents from Southwest US and northern Mexico
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0-10°F

 

 

Hummingbird Mint could just as well be called “Hummingbird Magnet”, as its spikes of vivid rose-purple flowers are irresistible to these flying nectar-sippers. This group of fragrant, perennial herbs includes various species found mostly across North America and northern Mexico, and horticulturists have been busy crossing them to achieve an astounding variety of hybrids. Flower colors range from blues and purples to pink, rose, and orange. The orange and pink-flowered Agastaches are favorites of hummingbirds, while the blue-flowered ones attract butterflies and bees. All need well-drained, nutrient-poor soil, and like deep, infrequent watering after their second growing season. Remove spent flower spikes to encourage more blooming. Leave stems intact over winter to improve cold-hardiness; trim old stems off just above new foliage in mid-spring, 4-5 inches above ground level. Agastaches work well in borders and beds, butterfly gardens, rock gardens, in pots, or massed in the garden.

 

Jul
3
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Plant of the Month – July

Moonshine Yarrow

Achillea taygetea ‘Moonshine’

Moonshine Yarrow attracts butterflies but doesn't interest rabbits. The bright flowers of this drought-tolerant perennial make great, long-lasting dried bouquets.

Moonshine Yarrow attracts butterflies but doesn’t interest rabbits. The bright flowers of this drought-tolerant perennial make great, long-lasting dried bouquets.

  • Plant Form: Semi-evergreen Perennial
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 1-2 ft. tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Spring – Early Fall (May – Oct)
  • Native to: European parents
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to <0°F

 

Moonshine Yarrow combines some of the best hybrid characteristics of the genus, offering felty, blue-gray, fern-like, aromatic foliage with bright yellow flower heads. The flat-topped flower clusters attract butterflies, and make great bouquets of either fresh-cut or dried flowers. Bitter compounds in the foliage have been used historically for medicine, to reduce wound bleeding, and for flavoring alcoholic beverages, but they also prevent browsing by rabbits and deer. This award-winning garden plant is extremely drought-tolerant when established, and prefers well-drained, sunny sites. If plants get crowded, dig up and divide the plant in spring or fall. Deadhead flowers for prolonged flowering, and cut back to basal foliage in fall to keep the plant tidy. This easy-to-grow perennial works well in borders and beds, butterfly gardens, rock gardens, or massed in the garden.

Jun
1
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Plant of the Month – June

Rose Sage

Salvia pachyphylla

Gardeners love everything about this beautiful, aromatic sage endemic to southern California, from its show-stopping flowers to its aromatic foliage; hummingbirds and butterflies can't resist it either.

Gardeners love everything about this beautiful, aromatic sage native to southern California, from its show-stopping flowers to its aromatic foliage; hummingbirds and butterflies can’t resist it either.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 2-3 ft. tall x 3-4 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring – Summer (June – September)
  • Native to: Southern California (5,000 – 10,000 feet elevation)
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 0°F

Rose Sage may be one of the most beautiful and fragrant sages in California. Bluish-purple flowers emerge from giant rose-purple bracts (flower-like leaves) on stems rising up to a foot above the foliage from spring through summer. Aromatic, silvery-green, rubbery foliage lends beauty all year. This native of dry foothills and mountains of southern California attracts butterflies and hummingbirds to its showy flowers. Good drainage is essential for this shrub, which prefers full sun and tolerates some summer water. Prune lightly after flowering. While quickly gaining in popularity, it is still hard to find Rose Sage in nurseries unless they carry native plants. Because it is known by several names used for other sages, including Mojave Sage, Mountain Desert Sage, and Blue Sage, make sure you verify the botanical name before buying. Useful in beds and borders, and for erosion control on slopes.

May
1
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Plant of the Month – May

Blue Fescue

Festuca glauca

Blue Fescue's mounded, bluish clumps work great in containers, rock gardens, massed in borders, or paired with succulents.

Blue Fescue’s mounded, bluish clumps work great in containers, rock gardens, massed in borders, or paired with succulents.


  • Plant Form: Ornamental grass
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 6 – 12″ tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Summer (June – July)
  • Native to: Europe
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to < 0°F

 

Blue Fescue forms a mounded clump of needle-like, bluish foliage year-round in warm climates. Insignificant pale green flowers rise above the foliage in summer, which some people enjoy, but others remove to retain its “tufted” look. Unlike some of its turfgrass cousins, it tolerates drought, heat, sun, and poor soils. One cultivar that performs especially well in our desert is “Elijah Blue”, which forms a neat, 8-inch mound of silvery-blue foliage. While classified as short-lived, you can rejuvenate Blue Fescue every few years by dividing it in spring. It works great in containers, rock gardens, massed in a foreground border or in the front rows of flower beds, paired with succulents, or tucked into a stacked stone wall. Blue Fescue’s bluish-gray color beautifully complements plants with silvery foliage, and its fine texture contrasts nicely with plants with course textures.

Mar
31
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Plant of the Month – April

Jerusalem Sage

Phlomis fruticosa

This drought-tolerant, sage-like plant attracts hummingbirds and butterflies with its bright flowers, which are also great in bouquets.

This drought-tolerant, sage-like plant attracts  butterflies with its bright flowers, which also make great cut flowers in bouquets.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 4’ tall & wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun, Part Shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring – Summer (April – Aug)
  • Native to: Mediterranean region, Europe
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 10°F

 

Jerusalem Sage forms a large mound of wooly leaves, with whorls of butter-yellow flowers skewered in tiers on long spikes. The velvety leaves have a sage-like appearance, but lack the aroma and taste of true sages. Butterflies and bees are attracted to the flowers, adding good habitat to your yard. Flowering may be extended throughout the growing season if stems are cut back promptly after flowering. The cut flowers make nice bouquets, and after the flowers fall away, the seedpods create interesting dried arrangements. Flowers allowed to go to seed attract songbirds in fall and winter. While this drought-tolerant shrub tolerates some shade, it may get leggy with too much shade. Jerusalem Sage makes a good accent or specimen plant, but it also works well in borders and containers, or massed in the garden.

 

 

Pink Rockrose

Cistus x skanbergii

This sturdy favorite of cottage gardens offers a blanket of pink flowers in spring, cheering up any sunny space it fills.

This sturdy favorite of cottage gardens offers a blanket of pink flowers in spring, cheering up any sunny space it fills.

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3 – 4’ tall; 3 – 6’ wide
  • Exposure: Full Sun
  • Bloom Time: Peak bloom Spring; Summer –Fall (March – Sept)
  • Native to: Greece
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to 15°F

 

A charmer in informal cottage gardens, this sturdy Mediterranean shrub is blanketed in spring with pale pink, one-inch flowers with yellow centers, offering a lighter smattering of flowers in summer and fall. This low-maintenance shrub tolerates heat, wind, drought, and poor soil, resists the advances of deer and rabbits, and requires only occasional irrigation after established. Pink Rockrose likes full sun and well-draining soil. Give a light, overall shearing or pinch off tips of young plants for thicker growth, pruning dead wood in early spring, but know that this shrub resents hard pruning. Useful as a dry-bank cover, informal screen, low divider, for erosion control on hillsides, along drives, massed by themselves, or planted among other shrubs. This very satisfying plant looks great alongside other shrubs like lavender, rosemary, sages, and buckwheats, and also works well in pots.