Perennials that dance in the wind have a “wild” quality that is so appealing. They express grace and softness in the landscape becoming the “music of the garden” as they sway. I love to see a variety of color playing host to one another, creating a whimsical, inviting appearance. Let’s take a look at a few favorites that attract Butterflies and some that attract Hummingbirds, as well… adding an extra dose of joy!
Salvia Amistad is in the mint family with deep green foliage on long graceful stems. Its blossoms of purple line the top of the stems in the summer and fall. I like to keep mine at about 3’ tall by simply snapping the stems down to maintain the overall grace and width of this gorgeous perennial. Its water needs fall into the medium range, and likes cool sun to light shade. * Attracts Butterflies and Hummingbirds
Gaura lindheimeri has long stems lined with little flowers that resemble Butterflies and blooms spring through fall, taking a break in the winter. It comes in both white and pink & will need pruning to the ground a couple of times a year to refresh the foliage and flowers. It grows to about 3 ½ feet tall and wide. My personal preference is the white…it seems wispier and a bit taller than the pink. Gaura is deer and rabbit resistant and attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies.
Lavendula heterophylla, or Sweet Lavender produces soft, wispy, blue-purple flowers that rise up above the foliage almost year-round. It exudes a sweet lavender scent that adds a nice touch of aroma therapy to your garden, and doesn’t like a lot of water. To keep them thriving by giving them a diet of low water and sunshine. They grow to a nice size of about 3’ x 3’ tall & wide, love cool climates, attract Butterflies, but do struggle in the hot summer.
Tagetes lemmonii is a soft shrub forming a loose rounded form with fern-like green leaves and golden yellow daisy-like flowers. Its herbal foliage gives it a scent of Marigold…something one loves or strongly dislikes, but its overall bloom appeal is like sunshine in your garden, attracting Butterflies, as well! It needs little water, and loves the sun, blooming mostly in the fall/winter and sometimes into spring depending on the weather. It will need a good pruning after blooming to insure new growth and flowers.
Centranthus ruber is another eye-catcher with its pink, reddish or white flowers on 2-3 foot slender stems. It spreads by re-seeding aggressively, but can be controlled by weeding out new growth & pruning. I often just chop and pull randomly to keep a nice, wild impression. Centranthus makes an absolute beautiful haze of color spring through fall. It is deer and rabbit resistant, attracts Butterflies and is easy to grow!
Heuchera sanguinea blooms winter through spring on slender stems about 18” tall lined with bell shaped coral flowers deriving from a cluster of low green rounded leaves at the base. These “Coral Bells” add graces and color as they dance in the breeze. They like filtered sun or partial shade to full sun along the coast, like regular garden watering, and attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds!
Lobelia laxiflora has slender stems with small tubular orange/red flowers at the tips spring through fall, and grows to about 2 ½ feet tall, but spreading to about 4+feet wide. It’s very graceful habit is beautiful in a “Wild Perennial” garden as well as water-wise. It loves the sun to partial shade and takes a little pruning to keep its flowers freshened. It attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies!
Salvia clevlandii is a bit more of a shrub, but one with some great aroma therapy going on! Between it’s whorls of sweet smelling lavender flowers and the herb scented foliage it carries an amazing scent and wonderful impact when planted in your garden. Its long stems still sway in the breeze and it blooms from spring to mid-summer. It loves good drainage, is water-wise, a California sun-loving native, and attracts Butterflies!
*As an added note, I’d like to suggest scattering California Poppy seeds in with your graceful perennials. They add a wonderful “wild” grace like a spring bloom in the desert, as well as attracting Butterflies with a punch of orange color.