Skip to content

Gregg's Blue Mist Flower

October Plant of the Monthblue mist flower

Ohhhhhh butterfly lovers... If you don't have this plant, you're missing out on quite the show! Gregg's Blue Mist Flower is irresistible to butterflies (especially Queen and Monarch), bees, and other pollinators and they are swarming them right now.

Gregg's Blue Mist Flower is a perennial growing up to 3 feet tall and 2 feet wide. It has deeply serrated light green leaves with a spreading growth habit like a groundcover. Although it will freeze back each winter, it will return in the spring. It's cold hardy to 0º!

Clusters of fuzzy looking light blue or lavender flowers on tall stems appear in late summer and continue through fall. Blooms and stalks will dry to brown as they age. Clip them off and trim back the plants to rejuvenate bushy growth and fresh flowers.

Gregg's is a Texas native so of course, its tough. It's heat and drought tolerant once established. Deer don't care for it that much, but will try it if they're hungry. Blue Mist Flower is best planted in part to full sun. It makes a good filler plant in perennial garden beds. Try it mixed with ornamental grasses, roses, salvias or Lantana!

September Plant of the Month

Cape Honeysuckle

cape honeysuckle

Cape Honeysuckle might have a misleading name, but this plant won't do you wrong! Not a true honeysuckle, it's actually related to trumpet vine, desert willow and  jacaranda. It gets its name from the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa where it is a native plant. Yup, South Africa, where it gets nice and hot and dry. It does just as well here as it does there!

The average size of this beauty is about 6-8 tall and wide, though it depends on how you prune it. It can be grown as a shrub or trained as a vine. As a shrub, it will have a loose, open vase shaped growth habit. As a vine, it can grow 15' or more. It's also a fast grower and if left to its own devices, will shoot up runners far from the main plant-just clip 'em if they get outta hand.

Cape honeysuckle can be recognized by its glossy dark green, diamond shaped leaves. This plant will get covered in vibrant red-orange honeysuckle-like blooms year round. This no doubt attracts lots of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Cape honeysuckle is considered a tropical evergreen, but around here it tends to be a semi-evergreen or perennial. Most years it will not freeze back, but if it does, it comes back every spring.

Grow Cape Honeysuckle in containers or in the ground. It grows best in full sun but can also tolerate partial shade. Pair it with perennials like Esperanza and Plumbago for explosive color!

August Plant of the Month

Tropical Milkweed

tropical milkweed

Are you bonkers for butterflies? San Antonio just can't get enough of this stuff! We know butterflies love 'em too, but what the heck are they called? If you said butterfly weed, you're half right. There are lots of varieties of milkweed, they are sometimes called butterfly weed. Combine common names with a few mislabeled plants and there's sure to be some confusion. Let's clear it up a bit, huh? The variety that we carry here at The Garden Center (pictured) is called Tropical Milkweed (Asclepius currasavica). A lot of us here still call it "butterfly weed". Old habits...

Just the Facts

Tropical Milkweed has bright orange and red clusters of flowers early summer through fall. An herbaceous perennial with upright stalks, it sometimes looks a little skinny as a youngster. Don't worry, it will get bushier over time. It can get up to 3 feet tall and 1-2 feet wide. This variety is not native to Texas but to Mexico. Even so, it is well adapted to our climate. Grow it in full sun with maybe just a little shade in the afternoon.

This tough little plant is deer resistant and tolerates heat, poor soil and drought. In fact, the easiest way to kill milkweed is by over watering! It has a long taproot that helps it get through dry spells. Tropical Milkweed has no serious pests or diseases except for the occasional rust spots or aphids.

About Those Butterflies

Now lets talk flowers! This butterfly weed attracts, you guessed it...butterflies. Flowers are a nectar source for many bees, hummingbirds, beneficial pollinators. The leaves are also a food source for monarch butterfly caterpillars.

The downside to this particular variety? It blooms well into late summer and fall, which can delay monarch migration. For this reason, you may want to help out by planting other varieties of Asclepius like "tuberosa" or "asperula". You can also just cut the plants down around September and keep them that way until spring. Read more about the downsides and why you would do all that here.

Placement and Uses

Grow these beauties as a border or a backdrop for other low growing perennials. They are also good for rock gardens or naturalized areas in the landscape. Pair them with other butterfly favorites like Butterfly Bush, Gregg's Blue Mist Flower or Coneflower.

If you're feeling adventurous, milkweed has several other uses aside from aesthetics and as a butterfly cafe. Pioneers and native Americans used to boil the roots to treat diarrhea, asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Young seed pods were boiled like okra. (A word of warning: Always consult a knowledgeable source before ingesting or topically applying plant concoctions!) And if you've got LOTS of time on your hands, the down from milkweed seeds can be spun to make candlewicks. The seed pods are also nice for flower arrangements.

Here at The Garden Center, we carry Tropical Milkweed through the growing season, but with its popularity this year, it's been hard to keep on the tables! As of this writing, we got 'em. But give us a ring first- just to make sure!

Save

Save

Save

Save

July Plant of the Month

Jerusalem Sage

Oh man, it's getting hot out there. But here's one plant that can take the heat without complaining even a little bit. Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa) will take that summer sun and turn it into a spectacular show of yellow flowers to stop you in your tracks.

jerusalem sage

Growing to about 3-4 tall and wide, this shrubby semi-evergreen has woolly gray-green leaves with yellow blooms that appear in spring or early summer. You'll also see butterflies and hummingbirds when you plant this one. Deadheading will encourage it to re-bloom again during the season. Or, leave it alone and let the interesting star shaped seed heads have their moment. The flowers can be cut for bouquets and vases, or used as a dried flower.

Jerusalem Sage is not a true sage plant, but a member of the mint family. Its Mediterranean origins mean that you can count on it tolerating and even thriving in hot, dry spots. Plant in well drained soil in full sun. It is drought tolerant once established and guess what? It's deer resistant! This plant is easy to care for with few pest or disease problems.

Jerusalem Sage is classified as an herbaceous perennial, but here in good ol' zone 8a/9, it all just depends on our winter weather. It is usually a semi-evergreen or in a mild winter, you may not notice any missing leaves at all. A hard winter may make it freeze back, but it generally comes back year after year. It is cold hardy to about 23º although it has been reported to survive lower temperatures.

The mounding, bushy growth habit of Jerusalem Sage makes it look great in informal gardens, cottage gardens or in a Mediterranean themed garden. Pair it with santolina, rosemary, lavender, olives or even agave plants. Use this plant as a border, small hedge or in containers. Jerusalem Sage is blooming now at  The Garden Center. Come by and grab one before they're all gone!

 

 

 

 

Mexican Flowering Plum

March Plant of the Month

flowering plum

There's nothing like blooms on fruit trees in early spring! Mexican Flowering Plum might not be the first tree you think of when planting a fruit tree, but don't overlook it. This native plum is a great ornamental/fruit/flowering tree.

Probably the most notable thing about these trees are their white blooms in early spring. They are fragrant and a good source of food for bees and other pollinators. Dark red/purple fruit appears soon after and ripens in the fall. The fruit is loved by birds, but you'll like it too. That is, if you like making jams or pies. The skin of these plums is very thick, so it's not as easy to eat fresh like other plums.

Mexican Flowering Plums are relatively small trees with a single trunk. Growing 15-30 feet tall and about 25 feet wide at maturity, it can fit into most yards. It's also considered slow growing, so it will take a while to use up the space. Their branches are thin and spreading and when mature, the blue-gray bark starts to peel and almost appears striped. Watch out, the branches are also a little bit thorny!

In summer, this tree will have olive green, thick, sand papery leaves. In fall you can expect a yellow to orange color before they drop. Mexican Plums are easy to grow and have very few pest or disease problems.

Plant in full sun to part shade. These can be used as an understory tree as well.  Mexican Flowering Plum can tolerate a variety of soils from acidic to alkaline, clay to well drained. Once established, these native trees are drought tolerant. Hurry in to The Garden Center and grab yours this spring, we only have a handful available!

Artemisia

February Plant of the Month

artemisiaOh Artemisia , how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Artemisia is a silvery, aromatic evergreen perennial grown for its ornamental, culinary and medicinal properties. Run your hands through it and you'll experience its signature scent. While it might not be the most romantic plant we carry, it's easy going, yet tough and will surprise you in many ways!

How to Grow

This perennial is easily identified by its striking gray, feathery foliage. It almost looks like the top of a carrot. Although it does make small yellow flowers, they are not very showy. Actually, clipping them off will encourage better foliage growth. Pruning regularly will keep them nice and compact.

There are several different varieties of Artemesia. It's also known as Wormwood, Mugwort and Sagebrush. If it reminds you of Dusty Miller, it's because they're related! Some of the most popular varieties are Powis Castle, Silver Mound or Silver King. Most varieties will grow 1-3 feet tall and wide.

Give Artemisia a sunny spot to grow with well drained soil. In fact, it hates wet soil. It's very heat and drought tolerant, thriving in the middle of summer when others start to give up. They will also grow in partial shade, although they will probably get a little leggy from trying to reach the sun!

More than Meets the Eye

Artemisia has very few pest problems when taken care of properly. In fact, those who raise chickens like it because the aromatic foliage makes a pretty good insect repellent for the birds! For the same reason, it's also not appealing to deer. YASSS! It has cullinary and medicinal properties for us humans. Different varieties are better for different things. Check out this article if you want to learn more about that. And always do your homework before ingesting anything!

In the Landscape

Artemisia is versatile and looks great in containers, rock gardens or in the landscape. Plant it as a border or mix it with shrubs like Loropetalum or Nandina. Put it in your moon garden, white or gray garden, alongside pastel flowering plants or against the bright green of mints or grasses. It's color and texture can really break up a plain ol' flower bed.

With all of its great qualities, why not give this one a chance? Here at The Garden Center, we have a few on hand and will continue to carry them in the coming spring season. Make Artemisia your gardening Valentine this year!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Nellie R. Stevens Holly

December Plant of the Month

nellie r. stevensNothing says December Plant of the Month like a good 'ol holly plant. Nellie R. Stevens is a favorite variety for many reasons, its most noteworthy being its showy red-orange berries!

What's in a Name?

Nellie R. Stevens is a hybrid between English holly and Chinese holly. The garden that the original hybrid plant was produced in belonged to Nellie Robinson Stevens, a teacher and avid gardener. "Miss Nellie" collected the seeds of the hybrid, hence the name.

Growth Habits and Use in the Landscape

A large evergreen shrub, Nellie Stevens forms a pyramidal shape with dense branching. The leaves are dark green and glossy, oblong and prickly, making them a good choice for security barriers. Deer don't care for the texture much either. Vigorous and fast growing, this holly can be used as a small tree, or planted in groups for screens or windbreaks. Give Nellie plenty of room, she grows to about 10 feet tall and 5 feet wide, sometimes larger.

Small white blooms will appear in spring. In fall you'll start to see large red-orange berries. This holly is one of the few that does not require a pollinator to set fruit. However, like fruit trees, it will produce even more berries if you are able to find a male Edward J. Stevens Holly.

Where to Put it?

Nellie R. Stevens hollies have pretty good heat tolerance and are drought tolerant once established. They prefer well drained soil and while rich acidic soil is a plus, it's not absolutely necessary for these hollies to grow. One of the great things about this variety is that it's low maintenance and keeps its shape even without pruning. If needed, prune in winter. Plant your Nellie R. Stevens holly in full sun to part shade and enjoy interest in your garden year-round!

October Plant of the Month

Elaeagnus

elaeagnus

Elaeagnus, also sometimes called Silverberry is our October pick for Plant of the Month. This plant may look plain at first glance, but read on to see why it's so tough and versatile! There over 50 different varieties of this shrub; the most common variety that we carry is called Elaeagnus ebbingei. They are evergreen shrubs with an upright, spreading growth habit with dense, full foliage. Fast growing when young, they make an excellent choice for privacy screening.

A Closer Look

At first, Elaeagnus might look like any other shrub in the landscape. But a closer look reveals silvery, olive green foliage. One of the most notable characteristics are the silvery or  coppery brown dots on the leaves. These little dots reflect sunlight giving them a slight shimmer in the light. Those little dots also give it a rough, bumpy texture similar to sandpaper. Elaeagnus also makes small, but very fragrant bell-shaped white flowers in October or November. The flowers are followed by a small orange-red drupe fruit that ripens in spring. These little fruits are also edible!

Tough Stuff

This plant is extremely tough. It tolerates poor, rocky soil as well as our Texas heat. It's also very drought tolerant once established and can even tolerate salt and wind for those who want to plant it near the coast.
Oh yeah, remember that rough, bumpy texture? The deer don't like that and generally leave Elaeagnus alone. Relatively disease and pest free, it's pretty easy to grow; although spider mite can sometimes get after it.

In the Landscape

Give Elaeagnus ebbingei plenty of space and plant in full sun or partial shade. It can grow to about 6' tall and 4' wide. Other varieties vary in size and some can reach 15' tall! The silvery foliage of Elaeagnus looks especially nice against darker foliage plants like some of the dark purple Loropetalums, Magnolias or maybe a Leyland Cypress.

These shrubs can be espaliers, background or barrier plants and they are good for slopes and erosion control. While it can be clipped into a hedge, you may be fighting long unruly branches trying to poke out of that nice neat form you want. Generally it does better when left to its own devices. Also a good choice near the pool, exposure to chlorine won't bother it one bit. You can even grow Elaeagnus in a container!

Save

Save

Save

Frog Fruit Verbena

frog fruitFunny name, serious ground cover. Frog Fruit is a fast growing Texas native ground cover with many names. You may have heard of it as Creeping Lipia, Mat Grass, Cape Weed or Turkey Tangle Fogfruit. Say that one three times fast.

Frog Fruit Verbena forms a dense mat that can take the place of traditional turf. You can even mow it like a lawn! It's an evergreen perennial with gray green foliage. In winter the foliage sometimes turns a purplish hue from cold temperatures.

This tough little plant is perfect for areas with heavy foot traffic, including dogs and the kiddos. It grows 3-4 inches tall, about 3 feet across and does best in full sun. Although it may not bloom as much, it will also tolerate part shade.

frog fruit frog fruitTiny white to lavender-pink flowers appear in spring and continue through fall. Because the flowers are rich in nectar , they attract bees and butterflies. Frog Fruit is also a host plant to the Common Buckeye, Phaon Crescent and White Peacock butterfly.

In addition, Frog Fruit Verbena is heat and drought tolerant. It also tolerates poor soil and is deer resistant. HOORAY! This plant super tough and is great for walkways, used as a filler for large open spaces and trouble spots. You can even grow it in containers and it looks great in rock gardens and xeriscapes.

Pick up this versatile ground cover at The Garden Center today! We have plenty on hand in 1 gallon containers for $7.99. See ya soon!

 

Save

Salvia Greggii

April Plant of the Month

salvia greggiiSalvia greggii is one of our favorite perennials! Also called Autumn Sage, this shrubby plant comes in almost every color you can think of. Salvia greggii is native to Central, West and South Texas as well as Mexico. This is great news not only for your water bill, but for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds too!

Autumn Sage is a perennial, but will sometimes stay green through a mild winter. The oval shaped, olive green leaves grow on long woody stems. These plants can have an upright, bushy or even sprawling growth habit depending on variety.

The flowers of Salvia greggii resemble lips, with the top having a hood shape and the bottom which is wider. Colors can vary from pale yellow to soft pink, hot pink, magenta, coral, red, violet to almost blue! There's also the popular variety, Hot Lips, a bicolor flower of red and white.

One of the best things about these perennials is the blooming season. Expect blooms from spring until the first frost! Removing spent flower stalks and pruning back on occasion will encourage new blooms and a tidy look. All of those flowers will also attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds! It seems like lots of critters love Salvia greggii, but fortunately, deer are not one of them. While nothing is deer proof, this plant is not their favorite.

Autumn Sage will grow between 12 inches to about 3 feet tall and wide. Your mileage may vary. Plant it in full sun or part sun. A shadier spot may work okay, but you may not get as many blooms. Salvia greggii thrives in rocky, well drained soil and can be planted just about anywhere. It looks great in whiskey barrels or used as a border. Salvia greggii is also drought tolerant once established.

It's no wonder that Salvia greggii is so popular. That's why we decided to put it on this year's spring sales list. Right now at The Garden Center, you can get any variety of Salvia greggi in a one gallon container for only $4.95! Prices are good through May 31st. While you're at it check out all of our other favorites on the list by clicking here!salvia greggii

 

Save