Favorite Plants 2012

April 2012

Favorite Plants of Master Gardeners
By Becky Altobelli, Somervell County Master Gardener

winecupThis spring certainly seemed to come earlier this year.  With more frequent rain and in greater amounts than we have seen in North Texas for a few years, that has meant an earlier and more abundant flowering of our native wildflowers.

One of the very first to bloom, and my favorite in the fields and in my garden, is the Wine-cup of the genus Callirhoe.  The bright magenta cup-shaped flower tops a solitary stem on deep green, ground-hugging foliage. The blooms appear (seems like overnight) as the daytime temperatures warm up.  And because I have planted some, through the years, in the gravel and stone walkways around my home, those beautiful blooms reaching for the Spring sun were the first to catch my eye.

The perennial wine-cup begins to bloom a week or two earlier than annual bluebonnets and paint-brushes and continues to flower alongside them, complimenting their colors and hues beautifully throughout their shorter growing season.

If the color of the wine-cup was not enough to make it my favorite pick, here more reasons to plant this tough, long blooming perennial. It grows in hot, dry infertile soil in full sun (will tolerate semi-shade).  Excellent in rock gardens, as front border plants or on a rock wall.  It needs little attention throughout the year, though I usually have to trim back the stems that die in the intense and prolonged summer heat (remember summer 2011?).

I did find my wine-cups in my field close to my house and was able to transplant them successfully.  Some words of caution- use only small specimens to transplant as they have an extremely long taproot in larger plants that make those difficult, if not impossible to move to another location.  Once established, the wine-up will propagate by seed, and has done so through-out my yard, but is so low to the ground that it is easily mowed and blends in with the lawn.

So, for a low water-use, hardy, semi-evergreen, native perennial landscape plant with beautiful foliage and blooms look for the wine-cup in your fields or native plant nursery. Plant my favorite and Enjoy!

March 2012

Favorite Plant – Hardy Amaryllis Hippeastrum johnsonia
By Donna Hagar

Hardy AmaryllisPerennial bulb

Height 18”

Blooms in late March to April on 12-18” stalks. Each stalk produces 4-6 red trumpet shaped flowers, with white stripes.

Propagate by dividing bulbs.

Deer resistant

Very easy to grow, well adapted to a variety of soil types and growing conditions. Naturalizes well, tolerates poor soil and cold and heat throughout Texas.

I have some Hardy Amaryllis that started back in the 70’s. My grandmother gave some to my mother that she acquired while spending a snowbird winter in the Texas valley. My mother did not have a good spot for them in her landscape and just tossed them behind the air conditioner unit in our back yard in Houston. Well, they thrived! When my parents then retired to Arizona in the early 80’s, I nabbed a handful of the bulbs and planted them in our first home in Garland. I have since divided and moved these descendants to 4 more homes and given away countless bulbs to friends. This is definitely one of my favorite plants and every year when it blooms, I am reminded of my grandmother.


February 2012

Favorite Plants Of Master Gardeners
Submitted by Bonnah Boyd, Somervell County Master Gardener

Salvia FarinaceaCommon Name: Blue salvia/mealy cup blue sage
Scientific Name: Salvia farinacea
Native perennial
Height: 2 – 3 feet
Spread: 1 -2 feet
Light: part shade to full sun
Flower color: dark blue, blue violet, white
Foliage: silver gray
Bloom time: April to frost
Soil: sand, loam,clay, caliche, limestone, well-drained

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds.  Drought tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping.  It is excellent in a flower bed, in well drained patio pots, and in massed plantings.  It is available in nurseries.  It is resistant to deer.

The silver fuzz, covering both stems and leaves, is the “mealiness” that gives the plant its name.

January 2012

Favorite Plants of Master Gardeners
(CowPen Daisies)
By Nancy Hillin, Somervell County Master Gardener

Cowpen DaisyCommon Name / Scientific Name: CowPen Daisies / Verbesina Encelioides

Native / Adaptive: Native annual often classified as an herb, weed or wildflower

Height: Up to five feet

Spread: Up to three feet across; re-seeds itself via of a prolific seed crop

Light:  Full sun

Seasonal Interest: Abundant blooms April through October

Colors / Features: Two inch yellow flower disks with broad rays and grayish-green triangular leaves

Water:  Frugal to no watering; extremely drought tolerant; blooms and keeps blooms on 100 degree days

Maintenance:  None necessary, although pruning or deadheading will make more hearty flower heads

Wildlife: CowPen Daisies are a host plant for Bordered Patch butterflies and favorites of Gulf Fritillaries, Painted Ladies, Queens and Monarchs.  Bumble bees often frequent CowPen Daisies.

Deer:  Deer take no interest in this plant.

Comments / Experience with the plant: The Golden Crownbeard was given the more common name, CowPen Daisies, because it seems to grow best in disturbed soils like the soil found where cows have been tromping around.  But, contrary to its name, it should not be allowed to grow where animals are grazing.  It contains the toxin galegine that causes poisoning if ingested in large quantities.  But, properly placed, it is a butterfly and bee magnet.  Keep it in an area to itself as some other species of plants may not be able to germinate or grow because of the allelopathic (toxin) effects.  Despite these warnings, CowPen Daisies make up for it all by being one of the most dramatic and drought resistant plants to be found.  When all else was succumbing to the long hot summer of 2011, it was wonderful to see the CowPen Daisies just outside my garden in full bloom.  You can rest assured that when this plant starts to bloom, the bees and butterflies will soon follow.

Sources: Native Texas Plants, Tamu.edu

Comments are closed.