Monrovia Plant Savvy
design, inspiration and practical ideas from the plant experts. May 2013
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go native

Dear Savvy Gardener,

 

Coneflowers probably spring to mind when you think of native flowers. These wonders of the prairie are colorful, cold hardy and easy to grow.  After the flowers are spent, leave the seed heads to feed small birds as weather cools. When it comes to food, there’s been a big trend for products that are sourced locally.  In the garden, a growing trend is for North American native plants.  Because European settlers brought some plants with them, most consider native plants to be those that were growing here naturally before the arrival of Europeans.  Native plants include all kinds of mosses, ferns, wildflowers, perennials, shrubs and trees.  Monrovia grows hundreds of native selections and hybrids that have been developed for better habits or garden performance.

Natives tend to be easier to grow, need less water and feeding, and are more resistant to pests and disease.  And bonus – they will often attract more native birds, butterflies, bees and predator insects.  As the Audubon Society points out, since native wildlife co-evolved with the native flora, they often rely on the resources of native plants for food, shelter and nesting.

notable natives
  Kim’s Knee High Purple Coneflower
leafgif   little flowers on the prairie

Coneflowers continue to grow in popularity and we grow more than 20 varieties in a range of colors from white and yellow to orange, pink and purple.  For the prairie look, grow with grasses or nestle in rock gardens or among stream bed boulders. Two stunning dwarf varieties to try are Kim’s Knee High with rose-pink drooping petals and an orange center; and Pixie Meadowbrite™, a prolific bloomer of dainty pink flowers with horizontal petals.

 

 
  Incrediball® Smooth Hydrangea leafgif  

native darlings

Two species of Hydrangea are native to the US:  Smooth or Wild (arborescens) and Oakleaf (quercifolia). A longtime favorite smooth Hydrangea is Annabelle, with pure white blooms.  Two fabulous improved versions of Annabelle are Incrediball®, with its huge, full flower heads, as large as 12 inches across; and Invincibelle Spirit®, which has big hot pink mophead flowers. The new Ruby Slippers Oakleaf surprises with a profusion of extra-large deep pink flowers against deep mahogany foliage.

 

 
  Texas Rose Skullcap leafgif  

heat lovers

Skullcap, a native of northeastern Mexico, is well suited to hot, dry and rocky conditions.  This easy-to-grow perennial dazzles with long-lasting colorful flowers.  Texas Rose is a dwarf selection with fruit-punch-colored flowers. Pink Texas has tiny Snapdragon-shaped flowers. Violet Cloud is a hybrid version, bred to be cold hardy to Zone 4 and one of the few with purple blossoms.


 
  Western Redbud
leafgif   colorful trees

Native to the Eastern U.S. and Canada, Eastern Redbuds herald early spring with bright pink or lavender flowers.  Forest Pansy is a popular choice, loved for its purple foliage that matures to maroon, and rosy-pink flowers. Hearts of Gold is the first with red foliage that turns to gold, and sports brilliant lavender-purple blooms.  The Western Redbud, a native of California and east to Utah, is a fantastic small ornamental tree.  It has apple- green heart-shaped leaves that age to blue-green and abundant rose-purple flowers.

 

 
  Rondo Beardtongue
leafgif   friendly natives

Penstemon is the largest genus of flowering plants in North America, with about 271 species. Every state except Hawaii has some native varieties. Also called Beardtongue, they are prized for their abundant blooming, range of colors and ability to tolerate heat and poor soils.  Plus, bees and hummingbirds are attracted by the droves. Pikes Peak Purple® has three-foot high flower spikes of grape-purple all summer. Red n’ Pretty® has true red blooms; while Rondo combines pink, purple and red flower stalks.