Bear’s Breeches (Acanthus mollis) doesn’t like our hot summers, but I can’t resist giving this a try because the large, acanthus shaped leaves and tall flower spike are so architectural. If you find the right spot for it (moist, fertile soil and part shade) it will reward you with a beautiful mauve flower in summer. (3’ t x 1-1/2’ w)
Yarrow (Achillea millifolium) used to just be available with yellow blooms (‘Coronation Gold’ or ‘Moonbeam’) but breeders have been working to make these plants more compact and available in a variety of colors. The newest “Song Series” has greener, fuller foliage. Plant in full to part sun and enjoy the summer show.
Brazilian Variegated Pipevine (Asclepius currasavica) is technically a vine, but I like to grow it as a pretty groundcover. The heart-shaped, variegated and marbled leaves are a food source for the pipevine swallowtail larvae and so periodically the vine will be bare, but it quickly rejuvenates. The flowers are very unusual, shaped like a pipe and an odd color. When they turn brown, they will spill their seeds to produce more vines but they are restrained about it. You can help it along by removing the pods when they are brown and sprinkling the seeds wherever you want more pipevine plants. More information about this at #pipevine.
Butterfly Weed (Asclepius tuberosa) has cheery yellow and orange flowers that bloom in the summer through fall, but that’s not why I grow it. I grow it because the foliage is food for the larvae of the Monarch butterfly and the blooms are nectar for the mature butterflies. (2’ t x 1-1/2’ w). It appreciates full sun with some afternoon protection. Save the feathery seeds and share them with your friends so we can all help the dwindling butterfly population.
Bluebeard (Caryopterus X clandonensis ‘Longwood Blue’) blooms at the same time the Monarch are returning in the fall. (2-3’ t x 2-3’ w) It likes full to part sun and blooms best with consistent moisture. It tends to be a short-lived perennial so take cuttings on a regular basis to keep it in your garden.
Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea) has a place in every garden because it attracts pollinators, but it’s also cool the way the petals reflex back from the center. The newer varieties come in amazing colors, but I haven’t found them to be as hardy as the original purple-flowered varieties. (2’ t x 1’ w). Echinacea can tolerate a wide range of sun conditions from full sun to part shade.
St. John’s Wort (Hypericum calycinum) blooms intermittently summer through fall. The clear yellow flowers have long, feathery stamens. (1’ t x 2’ w) Part Sun to Part Shade.
Shasta Daisy (Leucanthemum X superbum ‘Alaska’) is easy to grow in well-drained soil and full sun, and the daisy flowers will keep you smiling all summer long. (2’ t x 1’ w). This plant benefits from a trim after blooming to keep it looking its best.
Phlox (Phlox paniculata) comes in a variety of colors but my favorite is magenta (‘Victoria’). It’s earned its Texas Superstar status by being tolerant of heat, drought and powdery mildew. It will eventually grow to 3’ t x 2’ w but you don’t have to wait for it to mature to enjoy the blooms. It likes full sun but the flower color is best if it receives some afternoon protection.
Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) is an evergreen subshrub with downy leaves and showy purple flowers from late summer to frost. It likes full sun with afternoon protection. (3’ t x 3’ w). Like most fall bloomers, this plant benefits from a trim in mid-August. This is another plant that the pollinators love.