A to Z of Summer Blooming Perennials: E-I

My travels through the alphabet of summer blooms continues on…
Erigeron karvinskianus `Profusion’
(Fleabane): Lots of little (3/8” or so) white daisy shaped flowers and the reverse of the petal has just enough pink to make things interesting.  This plant blooms continuously from May through October or until frost.   Put it in half to full day sun and it’s not unusual to have a couple of hundred blooms at a time on an established plant.  Erigeron `Profusion’ takes regular well-drained garden soil and occasional watering in the summer months.    It does seed around a bit but in this case it just means that you get to have more, and in this case more is a good thing.  This is a great plant for use in pots and what’s more it’s hardy to minus 20 degrees F.

Fuchsias (The hardy ones that is): Okay everybody, you have my permission, go ahead and get your fuchsias out of those hanging baskets and into the ground where they belong.  A goodly number of the fuchsia you have in baskets are perfectly hardy when put in the ground.  So what do I mean by hardy?  Well, I grow about a hundred and ten varieties in the ground and lost only one to the December 1998 freeze where our lows for three consecutive nights hovered around 11 degrees F.  What’s more, when established, I grow most of them in full sun to part shade.   Once you get a hardy Fuchsia in the ground they can become anything from a small to medium sized shrub and yes you will need to prune them down in the spring.  They do like rich soil with a thorough watering about once a week in the drier months and if it’s really hot maybe twice a week.  I fertilize them in the spring with a complete timed release fertilizer and then I basically sit back and enjoy them.  A few to check out are Fuchsia `David’, F. `Double Otto’, F. `Surprise’, F. `Old Fashioned’, F. `Cardinal’,  F. `Black Prince’, and F. `Mephisto’.   Oh yes and did I mention the hummingbird wars?

Gaura lindheimeri (Now renamed Oenothora lindheimeri): There is a seed strain of Gaura available called “Whirling Butterflies’.  I can not think of any better two-word description for the flowers on this plant.    Growing thin tough arching stems to about 4 feet in height, Gaura stems move and sway in the breeze and the white, one inch, flowers dance like, well you know.  There’s also a pink flowered form available called Gaura ‘Siskyou Pink” (Introduced by Siskyou Rare Plant Nursery in Medford).  Gaura lindheimeri is native to the southern plains states and hence likes all day sun, handles poor soil and when established appreciates water about every other week in the summer.   Note: The leaves tend to get red splotches on them for no apparent reason, it doesn’t seem to hurt the plant so if it happens to yours don’t worry.

Hypericum x inodorum `Elstead’ (St. John’s Wort): When I got into the nursery business I thought there was just one Hypericum, you all know the one I mean.  The one that was planted as landscaping around every bank parking lot in the 70’s, 80’s & 90’s.  The one that spreads by runners and nearly takes an act of God to eradicate.   Well, this isn’t that one.  Hypericum `Elstead’ is one of a group of shrubby hybrid (hence the “x inodorum”) hypericums that have purple, gold or variegated foliage.   Naturally, just to be difficult, I picked the green foliaged form, did I mention the pink seed pods?  Yep, following the golden-yellow, ¾ inch flowers the seed pods develop, first showing up as a pale ivory color and then as they develop and ripen the pods go through the shades of pink and ultimately almost to red by summer end.   The flowers come in waves throughout the summer so there are always different stages of pod development going on.  `Elstead’ gets to be about 3.5’ to 4’ tall and by 3’ wide. Cut the plant down to about 6 inches tall each spring to renew the plant’s vigor.   It takes full sun to part shade and appreciates a good soak about every other week in the summer. Hardy to zero. (BTW, I love Hydrangeas also and it was a toss up as to whether I list the Hypericum or Hydrangea serrata ‘Preziousa’)

Indigofera heterantha: Having only grown this 4’ tall by 4’ wide arching Himalayan shrub for a couple of years, I’m just beginning to see the plant move towards its maturity.  Related to the familiar black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) sans thorns, Indigofera heterantha bears lavender pink, pea type flowers in great profusion along the stems for most of July, August and early September.   The bumblebees are constantly at the plant and while I won’t say it’s a favorite with the hummingbirds, I certainly see them visiting it often enough.   I grow it in nearly full sun with well-drained soil and I suspect that in our area it will perform at it’s best in as much sun as we have available in our gardens.   The plant is hardy to a minus 10 degrees F. making it a valuable addition to gardeners who live at higher elevations.

I hope to have rest of the alphabet completed before summer is over.  So stay tuned.

Mike

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3 responses to “A to Z of Summer Blooming Perennials: E-I

  1. I’ve had the Indigofera for several years. It is one of my favorite plants. The flowers and foliage are outstanding. One other characteristic is that it is very late to break dormancy in spring. Every year I think it’s dead but it’s just slow and I’m paranoid. :) Also the Santa Barbara daisy is a wonderful plant. I love that it seeds around everywhere. I think I need that new Hypericum. It looks fabulous! Great post!

  2. These posts are dangerous…my list keeps growing. Thanks (I think).

  3. That Indigofera is a plant I always mean to look for, but once at nurseries, forget about…must, must, must remember next time!

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