(Mint Lion's Ear or Klipp Dagga) Here's another plant for Dr. Seuss gardens. Mint Lion's Ear produces intermittent, shaggy whorls of fuzzy, rosy orange tubular flowers that butterflies and hummingbirds love. The blossoms burst from prickly, round clusters on stems as tall and slender as auto antennas.
As the stems grow taller, more whorls appear. In contrast to Leonotis menthifolia, this variety of Mint Lion's Ear has heart-shaped leaves. The forest green of the foliage quiets the floral heat.
Although native to Africa, this fragrant member of the mint family has naturalized in the American South where it grows easily in weak soils, such as along gravelly road shoulders. In Afrikaans, a klippie is a small stone, so that may be where this long-blooming plant gained the "Klipp" portion of its South African common name.
Historically, Africans have used Lion's Ear species medicinally to sooth coughs, dysentery, fevers and headaches. Although some Africans smoke various forms of Leonotis and call it Dagga -- also slang for marijuana -- the Cannabis genus is unrelated and contains different chemicals.
As to the scientific appellation nepetifolia, it indicates that the plant's foliage is similar to that of Nepeta or Catnip, another mint family plant.
Mint Lion's Ear grows easily and tolerates both heat and drought. It is a tall, wide subshrub, which means that it combines soft herbaceous perennial growth with some woodiness. Use it as a screen or background planting in full sun locations.
(Nelson's Bat-Faced Cuphea) A tiny snout-like face emerges at the end of this Cuphea's tubular flower and beneath two red-orange petals shaped like bat ears. "Too cute!" is a typical response to these whimsical flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Lance-shaped, mid-green leaves cover the slender stems of this petite subshrub -- a plant with both woody and soft herbaceous growth. Most Cupheas are native to Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. In the U.S. they are perennial in areas with warm winters.
San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because calyx and flower are one rather than being separate. While some Cupheas have no petals, bat-faced varieties have either 2 or 6.
Cuphea nelsonii is a long-blooming species from Central America with a trailing habit that is ideal for raised beds. It is a magnet for pollinators that grows well in full sun to partial shade. In areas with chilly winters, it is a good houseplant or seasonal bedding choice.
Outdoors, Cuphea nelsonii is excellent for edging, container planting and suppressing weeds as groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving plant and can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard.
(Lion's Ear or Wild Dagga) "Leon" is Greek for "lion," whereas "otis" translates as "ear." The appellation "leonurus" equals "lion colored." Actually, we think the tawny orange blossoms of this mint family (Lamiaceae) species look more like a lion's mane.
The flowers grow in tiered whorls along velvety stems so tall they may rise above your head. When crushed, the plant's lance-shaped leaves are fragrant similar to many mint-family species.
Lion's Ear is native to rocky grasslands in South Africa. It is a tropical shrub that forms clumps and grows rapidly. It combines soft herbaceous growth with woodiness at the base of its stems. Pollinators, including butterflies, are attracted to Lion's Ear nectar, which is plentiful. In South Africa, where it is mainly called Wild Dagga, parts of the shrub are used medicinally to sooth coughs, dysentery, fevers and headaches.
Lion's Ear is perennial in areas with mild climates and works well as an annual in regions with cold winter temperatures. It is a fine Salvia companion, particularly as a long-blooming background planting.
(Showy Milkweed) Milkweeds (Asclepias spp. ) are must-have, nectar-rich plants in the butterfly garden. They're the only genus on which the endangered Monarch butterfly lays eggs. It is urgent that we offer this pretty, fragrant wildflower.
In spring 2013, The New York Times reported a precipitous decline in the Monarch butterfly migration due to various causes, including North America’s plummeting supply of Milkweed. The species normally grows wild in agricultural fields. However, the increasing use of seed genetically modified to withstand herbicides has eliminated at least 120 million acres of Monarch habitat, according to The New York Times.
Backyard gardeners can help reverse this trend by growing plants, such as Showy Milkweed, which keep the Monarch migration alive and feed other species of butterflies as well.
Butterflies need flowers on which they can easily perch while sipping nectar. Plants with globe-shaped flower heads, such as those of Milkweeds, meet this need. The roughness of Showy Milkweed's long, fuzzy, gray-green leaves make it easy for eggs and chrysalises to connect. Powerful chemicals in the foliage are consumed by Monarch caterpillars and make them off limits -- as babies and adult butterflies -- to predators that can’t consume those substances.
Showy Milkweed features globes of tiny, star-shaped flowers that are pale, creamy pink. It isn’t very big for such a powerful plant, growing only 24 to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide. Although it can tolerate a bit of partial shade, this plant prefers full sun. It likes droughty conditions as well as gravelly ground. Any kind of soil will do as long as it drains well.
This cold-tolerant species grows well in USDA Zones 4 to 9 where it looks pretty in perennial borders or massed with other Lepidoptera favorites in butterfly gardens. It is particularly well adapted to dry gardens. Milkweeds are native to a large swath of North America, so they are also good choices for native gardens.
To control the plant’s tendency to naturalize in parts of the yard where you don’t want to grow it, simply snip off the seedpods before they ripen and pop open.
IMPORTANT NOTE: What you will recieve is a very well established root system. The foliege will not be cosmetically perfect, and it is only in the second year, once planted out in the ground, that this species will attain its full potential. In the wild this species often exhibits summer dormancy. There is generally very little above ground activity in the year in which this is planted.
(Vicki Romo White Sage) A hybrid of two, top Californian natives, Vicki Romo has foliage very much like that of White Sage (Salvia apiana) and darker lavender flowers than those of Cleveland Sage (Salvia clevelandii).
Vicki Romo is from the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden where it was named after a graduate student intern. It has bigger, more pronounced flowers that bloom from spring into summer and is a bit less fragrant than its parent plants. Similar to White Sage, it can grow up to 5 feet tall. However, unlike both of its smaller parents, Vicki Romo can spread up to 5 feet. This makes it economical as a border screen or tall groundcover.
This heat-resistant, drought-tolerant shrub requires good drainage and full sun. Both parents have a dry-summer/wet-winter range and often grow on rocky, south slopes. Little water is needed once it becomes established.
We love everything about this sage, especially how it attractst honeybees and hummingbirds but not deer.
(Midnight Mexican Bush Sage) The typical Mexican Bush Sage has purple flowers surrounded by furry white bracts. This clone from the San Francisco Peninsula has deep purple flowers, calyxes and stems. It is a good groundcover due to a mounding habit, smaller size and generous amounts of flowers.
Similar to other Mexican Bush Sages, Midnight is pleasantly fuzzy. The hairiness helps protect this full sun, heat-tolerant sage against drought. Use this compact plant in shrubby borders and large containers. It is also a fine addition to a cut-flower garden, blooming from summer into fall.
Deer avoid this sage, but honeybees, hummingbirds and butterflies are drawn to it.
(David Verity Cigar Plant) Cuphea flowers are hummingbird magnets, especially the orange-red blooms of the David Verity hybrid. The blossoms have been likened to cigars due to their tubular shape and hot coloring that ends with a slightly flared and fringed yellow opening instead of petals.
Sometimes the blossoms of David Verity and other cigar-shaped Cupheas are called firecracker flowers. Butterflies also love them.
San Francisco's Strybing Arboretum notes that the floral structure of a Cuphea often is referred to as a calyx flower, because calyx and flower are one rather than being separate.
David Verity's blossoms are larger than those of most cigar Cupheas. Lance-shaped, blue-green leaves cover the slender stems of this subshrub, which has both woody and soft herbaceous growth.
It's thought that the heat-tolerant David Verity is a cross between Cuphea ignea and Cuphea micropetala. Overall there are 260 species of Cupheas and most are native to Mexico, South America, the Caribbean and parts of the American South.
David Verity is long blooming in moderate climates where it grows well in full sun to partial shade. In areas with cooler winters, it works well as a houseplant or seasonal bedding choice. Outdoors, it is a fine edging or container plant as well as a groundcover. Although it thrives with average watering based on local conditions, this is a water-loving plant and can serve as a solution in moist areas of your yard.
Hummingbirds love Salvia (sage) nectar and are attracted to it by the bright colors of tubular sage blossoms. In particular, these little whirlybirds can easily spot flowers in the red spectrum, which is prevalent among sages. Here are some hummingbird gardening tips.
Fragrance as well as color attracts butterflies. However, they don't have noses. Instead, butterflies smell and taste with their antennas and feet. Here are some ways to attract them:
If you live in suburbs or rural areas where deer plunder gardens, Salvias (sages) can be part of your plan for discouraging these hungry visitors. Here are some tips.