An old-school favorite, gas plant is an upright, clump-forming perennial that blooms in late spring to early summer with small white or pink flowers. It does well in northern climates with cool nights and it tolerates light shade. Gas plant likes to be left alone to grow, and it does not like to be disturbed once planted.
Gas plant flowers begin at the tips of stems and form tall spikes of fragrant pink or white five-petal blossoms. The pink varieties often feature darker pink or red colors along the veins, forming feather-like patterns. Flowers of the gas plant have a lovely fragrance with citrusy overtones. After blooming, the flowers will give way to star-shape seed heads that provide ornamental interest when left on the plant. Its glossy compound leaves in a rich green color release a lemony fragrance when crushed or bruised.
Another common name of gas plant is burning bush. Both names refer to the highly flammable oil produced by the plant. On especially hot, windless days, this oil can volatilize and create a gas around the plant. When lit with a match or lighter, this gas goes up in quick flames and envelopes the plant in a burst of fire. On very hot, dry days, gas plant can spontaneously burst into flames, and there is speculation that this plant may be the burning bush referenced in the Bible. Use caution when working near or handling this perennial because all parts of the plant secrete an oil that can cause an allergic reaction.
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Gas Plant Care Must-Knows
Native to open woodland habitats, gas plant grows best in well-drained soil. Ideally, it prefers to be planted in humus-rich soil that does not become soggy but remains evenly moist. Once a gas plant is established, it can handle some droughts, but during extended dry periods it should be watered. In warmer climates, especially during droughts, the plant may go dormant and come back once temperatures begin to fall. For the most vigorous flowering, site gas plant in full sun. It can tolerate some shade, especially in warmer climates.
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Once planted, make sure to leave gas plant where it is. It forms woody roots and does not tolerate transplanting or any sort of root disturbance. If you are looking to start some new plants, it can be grown from seed but may take about 3-4 years to flower. Gas plant is also slow to establish in the garden, but once it does, it will be a long-lived, low maintenance plant.
More Varieties of Gas Plant
Dictamnus albus 'Purpureus' has purplish-pink flowers with dark veins and stems. As with all forms of gas plant, it is slow to establish. Zones 3-8.
Gas Plant Companion Plants
Perhaps the best-loved perennials, herbaceous peonies belong in almost every garden. Their sumptuous flowers—single, semidouble, anemone centered or Japanese, and fully double—in glorious shades of pinks and reds as well as white and yellow announce that spring has truly arrived. The handsome fingered foliage is usually dark green and remains good-looking all season long. Provide deep rich soil with plenty of humus to avoid dryness, and don't plant the crowns more than 2 inches beneath the surface. But these are hardly fussy plants. Where well suited to the climate, they can thrive on zero care.
Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, iris indeed comes in a rainbow of colors and in many heights. All have the classic, impossibly intricate flowers. The flowers are constructed with three upright "standard" petals and three drooping "fall" petals, which are often different colors. The falls may be "bearded" or not. Some cultivars bloom a second time in late summer. Some species prefer alkaline soil while others prefer acidic soil.
Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them growing in ditches and fields, escapees from gardens. And yet they look so delicate, producing glorious trumpet-shape blooms in myriad colors. In fact, there are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of flower sizes (the minis are very popular), forms, and plant heights. Some are fragrant. The flowers are borne on leafless stems. Although each bloom lasts but a single day, superior cultivars carry numerous buds on each scape so bloom time is long, especially if you deadhead daily. The strappy foliage may be evergreen or deciduous.