Butterfly Weed and Heucherella are top perennial picks

Asclepias tuberosa Asclepias tuberosa is the 2017 Perennial of the Year. This perennial, commonly called butterfly weed or milkweed, asks so little of gardeners but gives so much in return. It is highly drought and heat tolerant, requires no fertilizer, produces shimmering orange flowers in the summer, attractive fall seed pods, is deer resistant and is adored by butterflies, especially Monarchs. Plus its leaves are a vital food source for Monarch caterpillars. You should be rejoicing when you see some munching on the leaves, NOT racing out with an insecticide in our hands!

Orange butterfly weed does best in full sun in Zones 3 – 9 and grows around 24” tall. Milkweed can be prone to yellow aphids. You can control these by gently squishing these soft-bodies insects on the stem; spraying stems with water (not too hard or you may snap the stem), or using an organic insecticidal soap. You can also attract beneficial insects like ladybugs and green lacewings. (pictured right-Asclepias purpurascens. photo from Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plant Finder)
Check out other wonderful Asclepias including Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow’, Asclepias incarnarta, and Asclepias purpurascens.

Heucherella ‘Eye Spy’ This bombshell of a Heucherella stopped me in my tracks when I was walking the floor at a trade show in Ohio. Not only was the foliage stunning, but the mass of bubblegum pink flowers were exquisite. Most Heucherella flowers are a ‘dirty white’. ‘Eye Spy’ enjoys a part shade to shaded area but can take full sun in cooler climates. It gets about 10”-16” tall in flower. It is hardy in Zones 4-9.

Heucherella is a cross between coral bell (Heuchera) and foamflower (Tiarella). ‘Eye Spy’ and others in the FUN AND GAMES Collection, have Heuchera villosa as one of the parents, producing plants that are much more tolerant of heat and humidity