(Scallop Shell Horehound) The mint family (Lamiaceae) is well known for fragrant, medicinal plants, including Marrubium supinum, which means "bitter" and "prostrate."
Whorls of lavender blossoms create a cool look in combination with this Spanish native's foliage, which has a felted texture and looks silvery whitish green due to lots of tiny, moisture-conserving hairs.
It's the shape of the groundcover's leaves and their softly rounded serrations that inspired the perennial's common name Scallop Shell Horehound.
Hummingbirds enjoy the nectar of this full sun plant that tolerates heat, cold and drought. It's an effective, creeping groundcover for dry gardens and an excellent companion for waterwise Salvias. Once established, Scallop Shell Horehound needs little supplemental watering.
Marrubium is said to derive from the Hebrew word expressing bitter flavor. It's also the ancient Roman name for cough syrup. Another form of the herb -- common or white Horehound Marrubium vulgare -- is used in making old fashioned hard candy known for its bittersweet taste.
Before consuming any herbal product for medicinal purposes, be sure to consult your physician.
(Texas Craglily) Echeandia texensis shines in many ways. First, the delicate looking yet tough flowers are a rich shade of gold. Other stellar traits include its ability to tolerate clay soils, heat, a moderate amount of winter cold and drought.
This perennial's common name might mislead you into thinking it is a canyon plant. However, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, it's native to clay soils in the dunes and arroyos of the Rio Grande River Valley of southern Texas. This includes locations on the Gulf Coast.
Sometimes it is called Mexican Hat Lily due to the flowers looking a bit like upside down, floppy sombreros with tall crowns.
The scientific name is also a bit confusing. Although some sources refer to Texas Craglily as belonging to the lily family (Liliaceae), others say it belongs in the asparagus family (Asparagaceae). Instead of bulbs, it grows from corms.
Despite its drought resistance, E. texensis thrives with average watering based on local conditions and is known to adapt well to the moister climate of the Southeast.
Finally, it's worth knowing that this is an excellent butterfly plant that does its best to discourage deer.
(Sardinian Sage) This is another must-have Salvia for mild, Mediterraneon climate gardens. It has elegant foliage and lovely, rosy lavender flowers. Sardinian Sage spreads non-invasively as an herbaceous perennial and almost never stops blooming for us on the coast of Northern California.
When in bloom, this full sun plant is a magnet for honeybees. Historically, it has also attracted followers of folk remedies and has been used in Europe to ease fevers.
Similar to but denser than Salvia sclarea (Clary Sage), Sardinian Sage is native to the island of Sardinia and was one of our top 10 new plants for 2010. Although our photo doesn't do it justice, this is a lovely plant that looks great in perennial borders, dry gardens and containers.
(Giant Purple Desert Sage) It’s best to plant this flamboyant native of the Southwest in spring or summer. However, once established, it tolerates winters from USDA Zones 5 to 9. Purple tubular flowers and burgundy bracts flare up its 10-inch flower spikes like flames on this softly rounded shrub.
Fragrant, drought resistant and heat tolerant, this is a sage that isn’t particular about soils as long as they drain well. Give this shrub lots of sunshine and little water for best performance. We have learned by experience that this species grows best where there are definite seasons, and where the winters are not particularly wet. They thrive in Denver, and languish in Los Angeles.
Blue Flame’s improbably lush flowers are offset by mid-green foliage. It does well in dry, gravelly gardens as a groundcover, border or pathway edging and is just right for a native garden focusing on the Southwest or a wide variety of American native species.
Expect Blue Flame to grow up to 36 inches tall and 24 inches wide and to flower from summer to fall. Expect to fall in love with it; certainly butterflies, honeybees and hummingbirds do. Luckily, deer avoid it.
Thanks for the beautiful photo go to high-altitude plant expert Panayoti Kelaidis, senior curator and director of outreach at Denver Botanic Gardens.
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.
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.
Xeric plants are excellent for water conservation. They grow well in dry gardens with little to no supplemental watering once established. In fact, overwatering can harm these plants, which are native to dry environments such as deserts and chaparral.
At Flowers by the Sea, we identify all xeric plants with a blue plant marker that warns against overwatering. Here are some tips for growing and understanding our xeric, or blue tag, plants:
1) In a humid region, you may find it difficult to grow plants native to semi-arid and arid environments. Yet xeric plants may succeed if you have a persistently dry area, such as under a roof overhang or in the shelter of a tree.
2) Xeric plants are excellent for locations far from garden hoses, such as along sidewalks -- areas often referred to as "hellstrips."
3) Shipping is hard on xeric plants, which suffer from confinement in small containers as well as boxes. You may see some mold, spots on leaves or withered foliage when they arrive. But xeric plants perk up with proper care while hardening off in partial shade before planting.
4) When amending soil before planting, remember that xeric plants not only need excellent drainage but also flower better in low fertility soil. Fertilize sparingly and use a mix with more phosphorous than nitrogen to encourage flowering and discourage lax overgrowth of foliage.
5) Organic matter, such as compost, is an excellent soil amendment for xeric plants, because it keeps their roots healthy by improving aeration and drainage.
6) When your xeric plants are established, water infrequently to encourage deep root growth and to avoid fungal problems. However, it's a good idea to gently spray dust off foliage about once a week.