Have you grown Lion’s Ear yet? Anyone who has is now nodding a big yes or saying “Oh, YEAH!” because that is exactly what you say when this plant blooms. Who wouldn’t try a plant that blooms pumpkin orange in the fall in fireworks fashion? Lion’s Ear, Leonotis leonorus, is a tropical perennial from South Africa. Plants reach 3-5’ and flourish in full sun. Grow as an annual or overwinter in a protected space that stays just above freezing. Plant it by your doorway or in a container to complete your fall decorating, or plant in the garden border. Anywhere you place it, it is sure to gain attention. Pick up your Lion’s Ear this weekend for a gorgeous display this fall.
This week’s featured plant is Spotted Bee Balm, Monarda punctata. What a cool plant. Just look at those blooms! Yellow spotted flowers are displayed between pink, green and white bracts like horses in a carousel. It is native to eastern United States and thrives in average to sandy soils. Looking great planted in all types of gardens, it is especially at home mixed with other natives such as echinaceas, pycnanthemums, ruellia, and baptisias. Spotted Bee Balm is full of nectar and will attract butterflies and pollinators by the hordes. The fragrant foliage can be used in teas or as a substitute for oregano. Plant in full sun in soils with good drainage. An added bonus is its salt tolerance making it a candidate for difficult areas near the road or seaside. Plants reach 1-2’ high and wide and are hardy zones 5-10.
In the garden the Indian Pinks, Spigelia marilandica, are blooming. I love this plant. It’s native, blooms in the shade in summer, has showy red and yellow flowers, attracts hummingbirds, and is long lived. Spigelia starts blooming in early summer, the first flush of blooms lasting through July, takes a short break, and then blooms again in August often showing flowers into September. Plant them in full to part shade in average to moist soils. Optimal conditions are morning or late afternoon sun with moist well-drained, loamy soil. They are a woodland plant, so think along those lines. Plants reach 18” x 18” and grow in zones 4-9. Spigelia can take some time to get established so the sooner they are planted, the sooner you will have big, bodacious plants. Swing by the nursery or mail order Indian Pink for your garden today.
Perennial and annual salvias add so much to the summer and especially the fall garden. They bloom all summer and as the evenings cool when we head into the fall they gain momentum and bloom more and more. Hummingbirds adore all salvias. Some of you may be scorned by the last two winters taking a toll on the greggii and macrophylla varieties, but these plants give so much during the summer and fall months that they are worth it to grow even as a tender perennial. For super hardy salvia, try Salvia reptans, azurea and azurea ‘September Snow’. These gorgeous fall bloomers with sky blue or white flowers are hardy to Zone 5.