Welcome to summer! I'm spending the summer working on the next version of Floridata which I hope to launch by autumn. In the meantime we'll continue posting new Plant Profiles to this site so please visit us often and bring your friends. Don't forget the sun screen and be good and grow! Jack
Foxglove beardtongue (Penstemon digitalis) is a spring-blooming perennial and the latest addition to Floridata's Plant Encyclopedia. A few selections of this American native are available, the cultivar 'Husker Red' has purplish foliage and very showy flowers that last for weeks. Foxglove beardtongue is a used in beds, borders and native plant gardens in USDA Zones 3-8. Read more about this easy-to-grow native that will probably look great in your garden too.
Our profile of the slender deutzia (Deutzia gracilis) had some bad pictures and I've been intending to update them for some time. At last I caught a pretty planting of deutzia shrub blooming at our local arboretum (Boone County Arboretum, near Union in Northern Kentucky - visit if you get a chance - and you can even bring your dog!). Read more about slender deutzia, a pretty little spring-blooming shrub that grows in USDA Zones 4-10.
The fuzzy deutzia (Deutzia scabra) is another member of the genus that blooms at about the same time. It has a more upright form than the slender deutzia described above and has blossoms that are a bit larger and more fragrant. Fuzzy deutzia shrub is grown in USDA Zones 4-8 where it is a popular woody ornamental.
This amazing tropical perennial is unfazed by heat and humidity and dependably produces brilliant blossoms all season long. I like this solid-colored selection with flowers that lack the white "eye" in the center like those of the species. Grow the Madagascar periwinkle Catharanthus roseus) as an annual in cold winter areas. This plant is perfect for window boxes and containers, beds and borders. Click to download a large version (800x600), to display on your computer desktop.
There are thousands of begonia species, selections, hybrids and cultivars. My favorite is the showy tuberous begonia (Begonia x tuberhybrida). These heat tolerant beauties cover themselves with brilliant blossoms throughout the season and so are often used in outdoor beds and especially for container plantings and hanging baskets. Click here for more on these blooming beauties that are hardy in USDA Zones 9-11 and grown in other Zones as annuals (or lift the tubers are lifted in the fall and overwinter indoors).
Another easy-to-grow bloomer that can take the heat is the humble zinnia (Zinnia elegans). I always keep a patch of them somewhere in the yard so the hummingbirds have a reason to hang around for dinner during the dog days of August. Click to download a large version (800x600) for a closer look at this in mid-bloom beauty.
Last year I planted a border of these pompom zinnias (Zinnia elegans 'Lilliput'). They're amazing - they keep right on blooming even after being beat down by storms or laid on by deer! The pompoms are only about an inch and a half in diameter and look like precious jewels when the deer aren't on them (zinnias are one of the few garden plants they don't eat, but they do like to stomp on them). Click to download a large version (800x600) of this pretty pompom picture.
"Sugarleaf" is another name for this famous herb that has a long history of use as a sweetening agent in Asia and other parts of the world. Stevia extract is becoming very popular in the US as a no-calorie replacement for sugar and synthetic sweeteners. Click here for more on this sweet plant that will happily grow in a container on your kitchen windowsill. Here are a few more flavorful herbs that might be happy growing on a (bright) windowsill:
Steve grows a beautiful patch of cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) in his garden. This showy native of eastern North America has showy flowers that will attract hummingbirds from all over the neighborhood! Here are a few more Profiles of Plants that attract hummingbirds:
I visited a friend in Georgia and was astounded by the dozens of huge (six feet tall!) pure white 'Casa Blanca' lilies (Lilium hybrids) that were blooming in his garden. These Oriental lilies are as beautifully fragrant as they are visually stunning!
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The so-called "true" jasmines are species that are members of the genus Jasminum. The the downy jasmine (Jasminum multiflorum) in the photo is a familiar example to those who garden in warm-winter climates. Most are woody vines or shrubs, often evergreen and most have agreeably scented flowers. There are several jasmine species used in gardens in landscapes and a few that are grown commercially whose flowers are processed into fragrances and flavors. Some jasmines are suitable for indoor culture and bonsai. Here's a sampler of few true jasmines:
Many other species, not of the genus Jasminum, are commonly referred to as jasmine of some sort or another. Often they are shrubby or viny and always have pleasantly fragrant flowers. Orange jasmine Murraya paniculata, a tropical shrub, is an example. Although, not "true", these "jasmines" are some of our most familiar plants (at least to gardeners in warmer climates):
This gulf fritillary butterfly is enjoying a sip of nectar from a Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundiflora). It is an easy to grow annual butterfly magnet. I planted some in a container on a condo balcony and a few in the back where I hope they will receive enough sunshine. They should begin blooming in the next few weeks and attracting the local butterflies.
The Mexican sunflower has a South American cousin called the Bolivian sunflower (Tithonia diversifolia). It is a perennial species that can grow to 16 feet tall! The fragrant flowers smell like honey and are as apealling to humans as they are to butterflies.
If you have shady, woodsy spots on your property, Ray recommends that you consider a garden of native forest flowers, trees, and shrubs. Woodland gardens can be some of the most beautiful of all, and are the habitats of some of our most treasured natives. Ray and his family created a 3-acre woodland wildflower garden in Vermont that included gravel pathways, benches and explanatory signage. Northern natives like the great white trillium, cardinal flower, Jack in the pulpit, bloodroot, violets in five colors and an array of ferns and other flowers are available for woodland projects, so don't let anyone tell you you can't have a great garden spot with plenty of color in the shade. You can, click here to learn how.
The Hawaiian Islands are home to an array of native plant species that has attracted the attention of botanists, naturalists, horticulturists and world travelers ever since Europeans first visited the islands near the end of the 18th century. Read more »
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