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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!

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!

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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!

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September Plant of the Month

Turk's Cap

turk's cap

If you want to plant it and forget it, Turk's Cap is pretty close to perfect. These perennials are super tough, even in our Texas heat. In fact, you better make sure you reaaally like this one, before planting. It can be difficult to get rid of! Don't let that scare you though, this is a fantastic plant.

Turk's cap will grow in a shrub-like form to 4 or 5 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide. Many times they will grow larger. It's a perennial plant, so it will die down to the ground in winter, turk's capemerging again in the spring. The showy, bright red flowers bloom almost all season, spring through frost. The flowers never completely open and resemble a Turkish fez, or cap. The bright blooms are also a favorite of hummingbirds and butterflies!

Turk's Cap has few pest and disease problems. You may run into problems with mealy bug or powdery mildew every once in a while. Both problems are a relatively easy fix.

Where to Grow

Turk's Cap is extremely versatile and can grow in a variety of soil types including rocky, clay, sandy, alkaline or acidic soils. This plant is drought tolerant once established, but can also grow in wet areas. Where do you want to plant it? Put it in deep shade, part shade, part sun or full sun! These perennials look great as a border or mixed with other perennials. Try it in a rock garden or even a whiskey barrel.

Did you know?

Turk's Cap produces a small marble-size red fruit that is edible. It has a mealy taste, but birds and animals seem to like it. The flowers are also edible with a sweet taste. They can be used as garnish in salads or on cakes!

This plant has medicinal properties. Leaves have been used as an emmolient and flowers are used in a decoction to treat inflammation of the digestive tract. (Disclaimer: Don't try this at home kids. Always consult a knowledgeable source before making your own magic potions!)

Red is the most widely known color for Turk's Cap flowers, but shade of white and pink are also available.

This plant is a member of the mallow family, related to Hibiscus, Rock Rose Pavonia, okra and cotton.

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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

 

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canna lilies

Canna Lilies have arrived!

Canna lilies have arrived at The Garden Center! These beauties are a great way to add a tropical look to your landscape. They are easy to recognize by their large leaves and vibrant blooms. They almost look like banana plants. Cannas come in many colors including red, pink, salmon, orange, yellow, white and bicolor. Hummingbirds love the flowers too. Some varieties even have variegated or colorful foliage.

Canna Care

Canna lilies are perennial plants that will bloom spring through fall. Removing dead flower stalks at the base will also encourage more flowers. Plant Cannas where they can get at least half a day of sun. They don't perform well in the shade. Although Canna lilies are heat and drought tolerant once established, they can also grow in wet, boggy areas. These plants will grow 2 to 5 feet tall and should be spaced 1 to 2 feet apart. Plant cannas in containers, along foundations or use as a background plant.

Canna Get a Amen?

Canna's are easy to grow, bloom all season and can take our Texas heat! What more could you ask for? Well, in case of zombie apocalypse, you could also eat the tubers like a potato. But also, we have them at a great price! Grab a 2 gallon container for only $14.99 or a 2 gallon specialty Tropicana Canna for $24.99. Come by and see 'em!

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almond verbena

August Plant of the Month

Almond Verbena

This bee loves Almond Verbena and we bet you will too. Those slender spikes of tiny white flowers have plenty of pollen for the bees and lots of fragrance for us to enjoy. Their fragrance is strong and sweet, but that's not all. This is is one tough plant! It is heat and drought tolerant once established and tolerates San Antonio soil (or lack thereof).

Almond Verbena has a sprawling, bushy appearance making it something you'll want to plant as a backdrop to other perennials. and away from paths. The foliage is coarse and scratchy; plant away from pathways. Almond Verbena is great to plant near a deck or patio where the scent of summer flowers will come up to greet you!

This thing grows fast too. You'll want to give it plenty of room, as it can reach 10-15 feet tall and 6-10 feet wide. The downside? It may not survive a very hard winter. Most years though, it will freeze to ground level and come back the following spring. If winters are mild enough, you may even be able to maintain Almond Verbena as a small tree. By the way, we have a TON of these available now at The Garden Center! Come pick up yours today!

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July Plant of the Month

Shrimp Plant

shrimp plantLooks good enough to eat, huh? Shrimp Plant's not for eating unless your a hummingbird, but it's sure to fill your garden with vibrant pops of color. The more common color you'll see is a salmon or bronze-pink, but there are other varieties like this yellow Lollypop (left).

Expect lots of blooms summer through fall. Although they do well with bright indirect light, a hot afternoon in full sun can be a bit too much for Shrimp Plant. Morning sun or light shade is best. They make great container plants and can even grow indoors with good light.

Shrimp Plant can get a bit wild without regular pruning. Pinching back growth will not only keep its branches under control, it will promote more of its delicious blooms. This tropical plant thrives in heat and humidity but does not tolerate freezes. It will die back to ground level and most times, reappear the following spring. Plant with Hibiscus, Jatropha, Canna Lily or Tibochina for a beautiful, tropical shrimp cocktail!

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