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Brightly colored butterfly weed is a butterfly magnet, attracting many kinds of butterflies to its colorful blooms. Monarch butterfly larvae feed on its leaves but seldom harm this native plant. It is slow to emerge in the spring, so mark its location to avoid accidental digging before new growth starts. If you don't want it to spread, deadhead faded blooms before seedpods mature. It is sometimes called milkweed because it produces a milky sap when cut.
Calamint is dotted with masses of tiny flowers that attract butterflies from midsummer until frost. The small white or pale lavender blooms make a good substitute for baby's breath. Calamint is a member of the mint family, but it doesn't spread by runners, so it usually remains well behaved in the garden. However, it can self-seed and occasionally pops up elsewhere in the landscape. Grow calamint in a location with good drainage for a low-maintenance, drought-tolerant perennial with airy texture.
Funnel-shaped white callas represent a simple cool elegance in the garden, but the colored callas add a new dimension to the plant. Now available in a rainbow of hues including lavender, purple, orange, yellow, and peach, these South African natives perk up container gardens and borders. The plants go dormant in colder winter areas of their hardiness range and do not emerge until temperatures warm up in late spring. Outside of their hardiness range, store the rhizomes in a frost-free place for winter.
Sparkling white candytuft, with its cool evergreen foliage, brightens any rock garden or wall for several weeks in spring. At bloom time, plants are covered with umbels of pure white flowers that fade to pink. Compact selections are now available. Where happy, this plant will spread. Supply good drainage, and cut back spent flowers to keep plants neat.
Cannas bring tropical splendor to gardens in all regions. These bold plants feature clustered, flaglike blooms in a brilliant color array on tall stems. Recent flower breeding has created canna foliage that is even showier than the petals, with variegated leaf combinations of orange, yellow, and greens that glow in the summer sun. Dwarf cannas are also available for container gardening and other small spaces. Cannas are usually grown from tuberous roots but some newer varieties can also be raised from seed, with flowering guaranteed for the first year.
Cannas provide architectural interest in summer borders and they also flourish along the damp margins of a pond. If you garden in a climate colder than Zone 9 (7 for the hardier types of cannas), you'll need to dig canna plants up and store them bareroot for the next season or overwinter potted specimens indoors. A destructive mottling virus has threatened canna stock in nurseries across the U.S., so be sure to buy your plants from a reputable source.
A wonderful, easy-to-grow shrub, Carolina allspice features strongly fragrant dark red flowers in early summer. The show doesn't stop there; the leaves often turn a nice shade of yellow in the fall.
Carolina allspice is largely left alone by deer, probably thanks to its clove-scent foliage. The shrub thrives in full sun or part shade and in moist, well-drained soil. It's native to areas of North America.
Catmint is one of the toughest perennials you can grow. It's a proven performer during hot, dry weather, and the silvery foliage and blue flowers look great most of the season. Deadhead or cut back hard after first flush of bloom to encourage more flowers. Average, well-drained soil is usually sufficient. Tall types may need gentle staking; it sometimes seeds freely.
As you might guess from the common name, catmint is a favorite of cats. They'll often roll around in the plants in delight.
Graceful sweeping branches and a natural pyramidal shape are the hallmarks of this exceptionally fragrant evergreen. If given plenty of space, cedars will grow to traffic-stopping perfection, to be especially appreciated in the winter landscape. Needle color ranges from yellow-tipped green to the silvery tones of the blue Atlas cedar. The deodar cedar has a Christmas tree shape up to 150 feet tall. All cedars are relatively problem free, but dislike wet feet and very cold winters.
A quick spreader in wet spots, chameleon plant can be dramatic. Its heart-shape leaves are rimmed with red and gaudily splashed with yellow and green. Dense spikes of tiny flowers are surrounded at the base by small white bracts. Be careful to corral this fast-growing, water-loving plant, as it can take over rapidly.
Chamomile's dainty daisylike blooms glisten when dew-spangled and glow in moonlight. Carpet a garden path or patio with Roman chamomile, a flowering groundcover that releases a delicate fragrance when crushed underfoot. Use this herbal groundcover in the garden to edge beds with a feathery, fast-spreading quilt or to cascade artfully over the rim of containers. German chamomile is a bushy beauty that's a favorite among bees and butterflies. Tucked into flower beds, it offers season-long color. Chamomile blooms brew a soothing tea. Toss fresh blossoms over salad, or use fresh or dried leaves to season butter, cream sauce, or sour cream.
Chives grace the garden with bright green stems and pinkish-purple pom-pom blooms -- all of which offer a distinctly mild onion flavor. Versatile and easy-growing, chives thrive in containers and also form an eye-catching edging in planting beds. Place chives with convenient harvest in mind; a pot near the kitchen door keeps garden-fresh flavors close at hand. After chives flower, cut plants to encourage new growth, trimming a portion of the clump at a time. In wintry regions, as the growing season winds down, dig up a few bulbs to tuck in a pot for on a sunny windowsill.
You'll be searching for a chocolate bar after catching a whiff of chocolate flower. A fragrant North American native perennial, chocolate flower blooms with gusto nearly year-round in warm climates and from May to October cool-climate regions. Its small daisy-shape flowers exude a fresh-baked-brownie fragrance. At home in meadows, wildflower gardens, and beds and borders, chocolate flower grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It prefers slightly dry soil and will flop over if the soil is too moist or rich with nutrients.
Note: While chocolate flower is hardy, gardeners in the Midwest, Northeast, or Northwest may have trouble overwintering this plant if it stays too moist and rots.
With bright green, fern-textured stems, cilantro holds its own in beds or pots, forming a clump of sturdy, flavorful stems. Every part of cilantro promises a taste treat: spicy leaves, pungent seeds (known as coriander), and tangy roots. Most gardeners grow cilantro for the foliage, which boasts a citrusy bite that enlivens Mexican and Thai cooking. You might see this herb called Chinese parsley.
Once flowers form, leaf flavor disappears. Pinch plants frequently to keep flowers at bay. Cilantro tends to bloom as summer heat settles in; growing plants in partial shade and adding mulch can stave off flower shoots -- but not indefinitely. To ensure a season-long supply of leaves, sow seeds every 2-4 weeks. If plants set seed, dry seeds for use as coriander, and save a few for sowing. Allow flowers to drop seeds in the garden and you may be rewarded with a second crop.
Clematis is undoubtedly the most versatile vine you can grow. Few other climbers offer such a broad range of bloom colors, shapes, and seasons. Dwarf clematis are great for growing in containers or along decks and patios; medium-size varieties look great intertwined in small trees. For a knockout mix, plant a blue or white clematis with a red climbing rose.
Most clematis grow best in full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
Note: All parts of clematis are poisonous.
The acrobats of the rose world, climbing varieties develop long canes well adapted to training on pillars, fences, arbors, and gazebos. Most climbing roses are mutations or variations of bush-type varieties. They develop either large, single flowers or clustered blooms on a stem. Climbers may bloom once a season or continually, depending on the variety. Climbers can be trained to bloom more heavily by leading their canes in a horizontal direction. Loose anchoring to a support will encourage young plants to climb.
A reminder of the tallgrass prairies that once dominated the upper Midwest, compass plant adapts well to wild and native plant gardens, or could grace the back of large borders. Tough and easy care, its leaves turn to line up in a north-south direction (which give it its common name).
Purple coneflower is so easy to grow and attractive and draws so many birds and butterflies that you simply must grow coneflowers, if you have the room. Valued for its large sturdy daisylike flowers with dropping petals, this prairie native will spread easily in good soil and full sun. It is bothered by few pests or diseases. It's a great cut flower -- bring in armloads of it to brighten the house. And birds and butterflies love coneflower plants. Allow it to spread so that you have at least a small stand of it. Let the flowers go to seed and the goldfinches will love you, coming to feast on the coneflower seeds daily. Butterflies and helpful bees also love purple coneflower.
It used to be that rosy purple or white were the only choices in flower color. Recent hybrids have introduced yellow, orange, burgundy, cream, and shades in between.
It's hard to find bright color for shade, so it's a puzzle that brightly colored corydalis isn't more widely planted. It's is an outstanding shade plant. Blooms are small, but they appear in clusters. Leaves look similar to those of fringe-leaf bleeding heart. Plants self-seed readily, but excess seedlings are easy to remove. Provide the plant with moist, organic soil for best growth.
Shown above: Yellow corydalis
Crabapple's clustered pom-pom flowers light up the spring, but the trees attract even more attention in winter landscapes. Scarlet, gold, or orange fruit dangles from bare boughs, attracting flocks of birds. The craggy trunks and gnarled branches are also picturesque in mixed borders. Crabapple varieties flower in white, pink, or deep rose. They prefer well-drained, acidic soil but will tolerate heavier soil.
Spidery, sweet scented crinum flowers dangle from a central stem, brightening late-summer gardens. The huge leafy plants spring from giant bulbs. The native Southern swamp lily depends on summer rain to set its perfumed flowers in motion. In colder climates, crinums are a botanical curiosity to show off on a summer patio, and then bring indoors to overwinter.