Plant rabbit resistant plants to keep Br'er Rabbit out of your briar patch, wemove the "wascally" Bugs Bunny, and halt the "hippity hoppity" Peter Cottontail...including Baptisia, Hellebore, Iris, Paeonia, Salvia, and Veronica.
Other than deer, the most hated garden critter has to be the rabbit. Despite their small size, rabbits can devour garden plants and will happily eat your prized hosta down to a mere nub. Here at Plant Delights Nursery, we have wide range of perennials for sale and have scoured our catalog to create a list of rabbit resistant plants for the garden.
Like deer, rabbits will eat almost anything, so any list of rabbit resistant plants is not foolproof...especially because rabbits don't read lists. Bunnies may nibble on plants that a deer won't touch, but in general, the list of rabbit resistant plants strongly overlaps with the list of deer-resistant plants. The best rabbit resistant plants have one or more of the following characteristics: spiny, rough, hairy, thick, leathery, woody, toxic, bitter, or spicy leaves/stems.
The textured (rough, spiny, hairy, leathery) rabbit resistant plants include perennials such as Achillea, Agave, Juniperus, and Yucca. The distasteful rabbit resistant plants include culinary perennials such as Agastache, Allium, Lamium, Lavandula, Monarda, Nepeta, Origanum, Rosmarinus, and Salvia, but also include caustic, acrid or just plain yucky-tasting plants like Caryopteris and toxic plants like Aconitum, Artemisia, Asclepias, and Digitalis. Plant groups like ferns and ornamental grasses repel rabbits well. When you are ready to buy rabbit resistant plants for your garden, check out our online list of rabbit resistant plants for sale.
I hadn't been as impressed in quite a while as I was when I first met this plant in Dale Hendricks' Pennsylvania garden. The bushy mound of light green, deer-resistant, fragrant foliage, reeking of peppermint, was smothered in clouds of tiny, very light blue flowers. Our plants here in hot and muggy NC have performed equally as well, in full flower from June until October. Calamintha nepeta needs good drainage and plenty of air circulation, although this one has survived far better than other calaminthas for us. I think rock gardeners and herb lovers alike will fall in love with this gem...for me, it was love at first sight!
We originally got our plant from Georgia plantsman, Ozzie Johnson, but evidently it had been passed around for years by Gulf Coast plantsmen. For us, Calylophus 'Texas Sun' makes a 4'+ wide patch of wiry stems, clothed in pencil lead-thin green leaves. The patch is sporadically covered with bright yellow sundrop-like flowers all summer, making it one of the longest flowering perennials we grow. Although we received this as Calylophus drummondii, dueling plant keys in numerous Texas floras have left us thinking it must be a natural hybrid, hence the cultivar name.
(aka: Campanula 'Blue Waterfall') Got dry shade? We've got a plant for you! This Blooms of Bressingham introduction makes a weed-smothering groundcover mat of creeping stems and small dark green leaves, which are topped from May through August with small, star-shaped, lavender-blue flowers. Although Campanula poscharskyana 'Camgood' prefers slightly moist soils and part sun, we have found its tolerance for dry shade to be nothing short of amazing. Compared to the straight species, Campanula 'Camgood' makes a tidier mat with darker green leaves. In 3 years you should expect a 4' wide mat of flowers attractive to hummingbirds.
Campanula poscharskyana 'Stella' is a lovely compact selection of the great rock garden bellflower. Campanula 'Stella' forms a compact 6" tall clump of round serrated leaves that spreads to 20" wide in spring topped, starting in late May, with an abundance of upturned blue lavender flowers. I can't imagine gardening without this incredible perennial.
From Christian Kress of Austria's Sarastro Nursery comes this superb bellflower hybrid between two heat-loving species (Campanula punctata x Campanula trachelium). The clumping habit, compared to the thuggish Campanula punctata, makes Campanula 'Sarastro' a far better choice for most home gardens. Starting in late spring, the clumps of Campanula 'Sarastro' are topped with 18" flower spikes of large, dark purple, pendent bells...simply a fantastic perennial in a wide range of climates!
(syn: Canna 'Feuerzauber') We've grown a lot of purple-foliaged cannas but never anything like this. The deep burgundy-black, tropical-looking foliage of Canna 'Australia' has a satin-like sheen and the intense color holds superbly during the summer heat. The foliage of Canna 'Australia' rises to 4-5', topped with a magnificent display of large, shocking red flowers...a true stunner and hummingbird magnet. Thanks to canna guru Johnnie Johnson for sharing this coveted gem he first brought into the US from New Zealand.
(syn: Canna generalis 'Aureostriata' or Canna 'Pretoria') Imported from India in 1963 by the Glasshouse Works guys, Canna 'Bengal Tiger' is a sport of Canna 'Wyoming' that originated from radiation experiments in the 1950's at India's Agri Horticultural Society. Canna 'Bengal Tiger' was later taken to Africa by Sydney Percy-Lancaster, where it was later "rediscovered" and given the invalid additional name Canna 'Pretoria'. Canna 'Bengal Tiger' is considered by many to be the most beautiful of canna lilies. The dramatic stalks of green- and yellow-striped variegated leaves with a brilliant maroon edge grow to 6' and are topped in summer with bright orange flowers that are favored by hummingbirds...scrumptious! Canna 'Bengal Tiger' will also grow in water as an aquatic plant. Canna 'Bengal Tiger' was awarded the prestigious Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit in 2002.
Canna 'Blueberry Sparkler' is a new canna lily hybrid from plant breeder Brian Williams. Canna 'Blueberry Sparkler', which has dusky purple foliage similar to Canna 'Intrigue', makes a sturdy 6' tall clump topped all summer with spikes of fleshy pink flowers...this has performed very well in our trials. As with all canna, moist, rich soil during the growing season is the key to nice, attractive canna lilies.
Canna 'Chocolate Sunrise' is an amazing new canna lily from the breeding program of Eliyahu Shlevin of Israel. Canna 'Chocolate Sunrise', which arose as an open pollinated seedling of Canna 'Wine and Roses', forms a compact 3.5' tall specimen composed of olive green leaves with a purple overlay attached to a purple-flushed stalk and is topped from late spring to fall with tight clusters of pumpkin-orange flowers. Canna 'Chocolate Sunrise' is a truly unique color combination and has been a stellar performer in our trials. The flowers were registered as yellow, but this is obviously another case of a colorblind plant breeder.
Canna 'Ermine' is a Curt Wallace hybrid that's still regarded as the closest to white (as judged by a team of colorblind nurserymen) that is available in the canna family. This 3' tall clumper is topped all summer with very large, creamy white flowers, flushed with pale yellow toward the center...a hummingbird treat. Canna 'Ermine' will allow designers to create some exciting and distinctive new color combinations in the summer garden.
Most folks don't think of canna lilies as North American native plants, but adjust your thinking caps for Canna flaccida. This native plant of the Southeast US can be found growing in coastal swamps from South Carolina west to Texas. Canna flaccida looks like a typical canna lily, with 4' tall stalks of green leaves, topped with clusters of bright, butter-yellow flowers from late spring until fall. While moist soils are preferred, they certainly aren't necessary for Canna flaccida to succeed.
Originally brought into the US by California sea captain Commander Bauman, this selection of our native Canna glauca was passed around California until spotted by plantsman Herb Kelly who named and introduced it to commerce. The narrow, pointed, grey-green leaves of Canna 'Panache' adorn the upright stalks to 6'. Atop the clump through summer and into fall are charming, narrow, salmon-pink flowers (darker in the center)...a hummingbird treat. A vigorous grower, Canna glauca 'Panache' is a great native plant from the Southeast US that can grow in standing water or in regular garden soil and even spreads fast enough for you to share plenty. The demand always seems to exceed our supply...get 'em while they last.
(poss. syn: Canna indica 'Purpurea') The 8' tall thick stalks of Canna 'Red Stripe' are home to large (nearly 2' long) leaves of purple with a dramatically contrasting green pattern between the veins. Topping, but not distracting from, the great bold foliage are stalks of small, brilliant red flowers that attract hummingbirds...a can't-miss addition to the border!
Designers love it, garden visitors love it, hummingbirds love it, we love it...so why are we sharing? This amazing canna, a 1978 seedling selection from California's Herb Kelly, is one of the most unusual looking canna lilies we've grown. The very narrow, pointed, purple-grey foliage of Canna 'Intrigue' makes one of the most stunning accent plants in the garden. In addition, the narrow leaves and strong vertical habit make the architectural presentation of this canna most special. The 7' tall Canna 'Intrigue' is topped in very late summer with small orange-red flowers, but this baby is truly chosen for its wonderful form...sort of like the babes of Baywatch.
Canna 'Lemon Punch' is a 2011 release from Kentucky's Brian Williams. In our trials, Canna 'Lemon Punch' has formed a 3.5' tall dense clump of glaucous green foliage, topped all summer with pendent flower spikes of large lemon-yellow flowers. Moist, nutrient-rich soils give the best performance for canna lilies.
(aka: Canna 'Nirvana' or Canna 'Striped Beauty') This old hybrid is still one of the most popular of the variegated cannas today. Canna 'Minerva' makes a 5' tall stalk with brilliant white and green striped leaves. This vigorously multiplying canna is topped off with unique red flower buds that open to large, butter-yellow flowers...produced all summer! When Canna 'Minerva' is fed well and kept moist, it is indeed a fantastic garden plant...a hummingbird fiesta. Canna 'Minerva' was named as one of the top 200 plants of the last 200 years by the Royal Horticultural Society...quite an honor.
"Amazing!", "I've never seen anything like it!" These are just two of the comments from visitors about this Kent Kelly hybrid. Canna 'Orange Punch' is a fast-multiplying dwarf canna, topped from spring until frost with intense bright orange, yellow-throated flowers...a hummingbird delight. From its Canna iridiflora background, the flowers are held in long pendent racemes instead of the typical upright spikes. If you like bright gaudy colors, the unique Canna 'Orange Punch' will quickly become one of your favorites!
(syn: Canna 'Semaphore') If you haven't noticed, we are lovers of the truly tacky and gaudy, and Canna 'Pacific Beauty' takes tackiness to a whole new level. You will love the luscious purple-grey foliage, but what will really shock you are the intense orange flowers that top the 6' tall clumps all summer...a hummingbird hot spot. Canna 'Pacific Beauty' flowers are not your typical orange but are more of a fluorescent pumpkin-orange...truly a WOW canna!
Tropicanna canna lily is the peak in "shock gardening." Canna 'Phasion', better known as Tropicanna canna is an incredible introduction from Jan Potgeither of South Africa. Canna 'Phasion' is a sport of the ever-popular Canna 'Wyoming'. Even without flowers you would surely grow Canna 'Phasion' for the foliage...purple with dramatic stripes of yellow and red evenly spaced throughout the leaf. Atop the 7' tall stems throughout the summer are wonderfully gaudy, shocking orange flowers...indeed, Tropicanna canna is the Howard Stern of the plant world...guaranteed to get your friends talking and the hummingbirds darting!
Canna 'Pink Sunburst' is our 1996 introduction that we named and introduced from the folks at Sunburst Flower Bulbs in South Africa. This dazzling canna lily is the hottest thing since summertime in Miami. Canna 'Pink Sunburst' is similar to Canna 'Bengal Tiger' (yellow and green striped leaves), except the variegated leaves have a reddish-pink cast. The dwarf, rapidly-multiplying mound of tropical-looking foliage is topped all summer by large salmon-pink flowers...a hummingbird party plant. We have finally been able to get the virus cleaned from our stock, which has restored the original vigor.
For something truly unique, we are pleased to introduce Canna 'Thai Rainbow', which offers a unique leaf variegation pattern (reportedly radiation induced). Canna 'Thai Rainbow' forms a 6' tall, rapidly multiplying clump of narrow leaves that are banded green and cream with a purple flush that is particularly evident on the leaf edges. The clumps are topped with small but bright red-orange flowers that attract hummingbirds throughout the summer...looks and grows like a variegated form of Canna 'Intrigue'.
Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense is part of the variable Cardiocrinum giganteum complex. It's hard to give definitive differences between var. yunnanense and var. giganteum, but, as a general rule, Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense grows taller (to 10-12' tall) and has more open flowers with more purple markings. Cardiocrinum giganteum var. yunnanense is native from as low as 4,000' to as high as 13,000' elevation throughout Yunnan, China, and surrounding provinces. As with all cardiocrinums, it usually takes about 7 years to reach flowering size, and in the meantime you will have to be satisfied with the large, glossy, green, red-veined, basal foliage. After flowering, small offset bulbs and lots of seed start the 7-year process over again.
This superb sedge, native from Quebec south to South Carolina, is a must for shade gardeners. Naturally occurring in dry woodlands, even underneath hemlocks, Carex appalachica is adaptable to almost all garden conditions...except swamps. The very narrow, weeping, mop-top looking, deer-resistant foliage makes an airy, 18" wide clump. When used singly or en masse, the textural contrast near bolder elements is simply stunning. If you've been looking for a shady replacement for an unmown lawn or a hairpiece that matches your green thumb, look no further.
(Carex 'Shima-nishiki) This recent introduction from Japan adds a new dimension to this fabulous, but normally green, Asian deer-resistant groundcover... perfect for a moist shady site in the woodland garden. This low-growing and slowly spreading sedge (1' spread each season), boasts 6" long x 1" wide light green leaves with a nice golden edge and occasional yellow stripes through the leaf center. C. 'Island Brocade' would be a perfect woodland foil for blue hostas as well as for ferns and gingers. This is often listed as a similar species, C. siderosticta, but carex guru Dr. Tony Reznicek confirmed its true identity for us.
I picked Carex divulsa up in Arizona in 2003, where it was widely sold, grown, and promoted as the California native, Carex tumulicola, until it was finally outed as the European Carex divulsa. I'll bet the West Coast eco-nazi, ethnic-profiling crowd who'd been promoting its use were more upset than Mel Gibson locked in a synagogue. Despite the mixup, Carex divulsa is a fabulous sedge and has been a stellar performer in both our heat and humidity. Carex divulsa makes a lush, evergreen mop-top clump of narrow green foliage to 15" tall x 30" wide that is equally at home in moist shade or dry sun. The clumps are topped with tiny bronze flower stalks in late April...truly fabulous!
Even with a wide native range from NC to the West Coast, the rare native Carex eburnea is not well-known in gardening circles. Although Carex eburnea naturally occurs on limestone outcrops, it has been fabulous for years in our acidic NC soils. The drought-tolerant, 8" wide, symmetrical clumps of soft green, needle-like foliage resemble crooner Justin Bieber's hair...sort of like a pettable green porcupine. Carex eburnea is a delightful deer-resistant sedge that's great in a woodland or rock garden...you'll just love this baby!
(syn: Carex glauca) This rich blue-colored recent Emerald Coast Growers selection of the European native Carex flacca has wonderfully narrow, glaucous leaves that make a delightfully wispy-textured, evergreen, deer-resistant groundcover. Although Carex flacca prefers moist alkaline soils, it has proven to be quite adaptable to a wide range of garden conditions and soil types. Carex flacca 'Blue Zinger' forms a nice 2' wide patch in 5 years...much more clump forming than the straight species.
We discovered this fantastic sedge on Taiwan's highest mountain, Yushan (Nantou County), at 7,400' elevation. In our garden, Carex gentilis 'Yushan' has made a stunning 18" tall x 3' wide, finely-textured, evergreen specimen. I find Carex gentilis a marvelous textural addition to the woodland garden.
(aka Carex 'Bunny Blue') Want to cut down on mulching in your woodland garden? Think carex! Carex laxiculmis is another superb American native sedge that can be found in moist woods from Canada south to Florida. Carex 'Hobb' is a particularly nice blue-foliaged selection introduced by the Head Brothers of Seneca, South Carolina. Expect Carex 'Hobb' to make a slowly spreading, 18" wide, deer-resistant clump of 1' long x 0.5" wide evergreen foliage...very nice when used either as a specimen or in a mass groundcover planting. The longer we grow this ornamental grass, the more we love it.
Carex leavenworthii is another of the fabulous native sedges that makes a superb addition to the garden. Carex leavenworthii is native from Canada south to Florida and west to Texas, where it forms tight clumps to 6" tall x 2' wide. The very narrow, dark green foliage provides an incredible textural contrast to bold foliage plants like hostas. While the drought-tolerant Carex leavenworthii doesn't run, it can seed and subsequently makes a great no-mow lawn substitute. Our offerings are seed-grown from a Pat McNeal collection in Travis County, Texas.
(syn: Carex 'Gilt', Carex 'Fisher's Form') Carex 'Goldband' is a truly great woodland plant. The stiff leaf blades, to 12" long x 0.5" wide, make an evergreen, rigidly symmetrical clump to 24" wide. The deer-resistant foliage is vertically banded white and dark green...much more white than Carex morrowii 'Variegatus' but otherwise identical in growth habit. Carex morrowii 'Goldband' looks great both winter and summer!
Everyone who sees this clumping carex can't leave without it. From a 1970s Barry Yinger expedition to Japan comes this hard-to-find but easy-to-grow selection of Carex morrowii temnolepis v. temnolepis. The 2' wide clump of wispy, thread-like, deer-resistant foliage is striped white-and-green...giving it a silver sheen in the garden. Imagine a 70-year-old with a mop-top cut that hasn't been introduced to hair color and you get the picture. Carex 'Silk Tassel' is great in the woodland garden...either in a mass planting or as a specimen near the garden pond...absolutely outstanding!
This 1994 PDN introduction was found by our friend, the late Wolfgang Oehme of Oehme and Van Sweden (famous landscape designers). This sport from Wolfgang's garden has the typical growth habit of the North American native (Canada south to Arkansas) Carex muskingumensis (resembling a 1' tall palm tree) but with a clear yellow border around the leaves. Although Carex muskingumensis 'Oehme' emerges green, the vivid yellow stripes appear soon after. Carex muskingumensis 'Oehme' is tolerant of a wide range of soil moisture including waterlogged sites. As with all sedges, Carex 'Oehme' has excellent deer resistance.
(aka: Carex 'Finwhite', 'Carfitol') Carex 'Everest' is a lovely white-edged sport of the popular Japanese Carex oshimensis 'Evergold', discovered in 2006 by Pat Fitzgerald of Ireland's Fitzgerald's Nursery. Carex 'Everest' is another wonderful textural ornamental grass for the deer-resistant woodland garden pallette. The 10" tall x 2' wide graceful evergreen mounds of white ribbons are fabulous, either as specimen plants or used in swirling drifts. Although the EU and US patent offices encourage non-sensical names, the breeder insists that Carex 'Everest' is the cultivar name.
(aka: Carex morrowii or hachijoensis) This is one of the most beautiful of all the sedges we grow. The narrow variegated foliage, 15" long x 0.15" wide, arches slightly upward, then out to form a 2' wide clump. Each leaf is vividly striped dark green and creamy gold. The dramatic weeping habit (like nurseries when they run out of stock) lends itself to a number of landscape settings...as a woodland border, near a water feature, or used as an eye-catching mass in the woodland garden...stunning! As with all sedges, it's highly deer-resistant.
Carex oshimensis 'Everillo' is the magnificent follow-up to Carex 'Everest' from Ireland's Pat Fitzgerald. The solid golden foliage of Carex 'Everillo' makes an incredible 1' tall x 2' wide elegantly weeping evergreen clump of bright golden foliage to energy-efficiently lighten the woodland garden. A morning sun location helps hold the brightest color, which fades to chartreuse in more shade. Carex 'Everillo' is great among hostas and ferns, but it's also fantastic in mixed color bowl container plantings. Carex 'Everillo' was awarded a bronze medal during the 2010 Plantarium in Boskoop, Holland. I think Carex 'Everillo' is one of the most exciting shade plants of the last decade, and as such I've already planted dozens in my own garden.
Carex 'Spark Plug' is a new introduction from our friends at Terra Nova...a dwarf tetraploid version of the great evergreen Carex 'Sparkler'. Compared to its parent, Carex 'Spark Plug' is much more compact, topping out with 9" stalks of unusual spiral, palm tree-like variegated foliage. Carex 'Spark Plug' is great in the woodland garden, either as an accent plant or mass drift. In a container, the tight clumping Carex 'Spark Plug' is just way too cute! Average to moist soils are fine for this easy-to-grow sedge.
From Japan comes one of the most attention-drawing plants (cures ADD) in our garden (and without flowers). This gorgeous, upright, evergreen deer-resistant sedge resembles a grove of miniature variegated palm trees with cute little whorls of dramatic white and green striped foliage atop each of the 12-15" tall stems. This is a real eye-catcher when planted among ferns in the woodland garden...prefers moist-to-normal garden conditions.
Carex 'Banana Boat' is a beautiful variegated form of the deciduous Carex siderosticta from Japan that makes a slowly spreading, deer-resistant clump of 6-8" long, bright golden leaves bordered with a dark green edge. Carex 'Banana Boat' is an easy-to-grow textural complement to ferns in the moist woodland garden. In 5 years, expect a 3' wide deer-resistant patch.
We are quite excited to share Carex siderosticta 'Snow Cap'...one of the most exciting new sedges that we've grown. This Japanese selection was first shared with us by Tom Ranney, allowing us to make it available. Carex 'Snow Cap' makes a slowly spreading deciduous patch of 6" leaves of white with a striking green border and occasional random green streaking. Carex 'Snow Cap' is perfect in moist to average woodland garden soil among ferns and other "greens".
From variegated plant guru the late Dr. Yokoi of Japan via UK grass collector Roger Grounds comes Carex 'Silver Sceptre', a brightly variegated, deer-resistant groundcover sedge composed of white-striped leaves that are only 1/8" wide but 15" long. The foliage arches outward to form an evergreen, 4' wide patch in 8 years. Carex 'Silver Sceptre' behaves well when used at the base of shrubs, trees, or as an accent between the contrasting texture of ferns and hostas in the woodland garden. In winter hardiness trials at the University of Minnesota, Carex 'Silver Sceptre' has outperformed all the other evergreen variegated carex. Carex 'Silver Scepter' is often listed as a selection of Carex morrowii, which is absolutely incorrect...unfortunately, we don't know the correct species yet. Plant Delights was pleased to introduce Carex 'Silver Sceptre' to the American market in 1999.
Carex texensis is another of the great native sedges for textural use in the garden. Native from New York west to Nebraska and south to...you guessed it, Texas, Carex texensis can be found in dry meadows and open woodlands. In the garden, Carex texensis makes a charming 5" tall x 1' wide clump of narrow, wispy, evergreen foliage that can spread out to 30". Come to think of it, there isn't much wispiness coming out of Texas these days...unless you include Austin. In low traffic areas, Carex texensis is often planted on 6" centers as a seldom-mown lawn substitute.
Caryopteris 'Lisaura' is a superb introduction from UK nurseryman Peter Catt. This hybrid of Caryopteris x clandonensis backcrossed to Caryopteris incana has turned out to be the most heat-tolerant of the gold-leaf caryopteris we have trialed. The 1.5" or wider leaves emerge golden and age to a chartreuse gold, which allows the plant to maintain its vigor. Our 5-year-old, deer-resistant clump is 3' tall x 4' wide. The clusters of axillary blue-lavender flowers adorn the terminal growth from summer until fall, nicely accenting the golden foliage. In 2007, Caryopteris 'Lisaura' was awarded the prestigious Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society.
One of the most exciting plants from our recent trials is Caryopteris 'White Surprise'. This amazing white-edged sport of Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Heavenly Blue' was discovered in 2005 by Dutch nurseryman, Jan Jacob Bos. For us, Caryopteris 'White Surprise' makes a 3' tall x 3' wide clump of woody stems, each clothed with finger-shaped, white-edged green leaves. Starting in summer and continuing into fall, the deer-resistant clumps are also adorned with rich, lavender-blue whorls of flowers that look great against the variegated foliage.
We have been taken with the floriferous herbaceous perennial, Caryopteris divaricata 'Blue Butterflies' in our trials! This vigorous 6' tall deer-resistant summer-flowering perennial, selected by Japan's Shinri Wakaiki, is topped from August through October with hundreds of small blue flowers that resemble trichostema (blue curls). Well-drained soils are particularly important for good survivability as you move into the more northerly zones...a great summer border plant.
Yes, Virginia, it is a caryopteris. Forget what you know about Caryopteris x clandonensis, as this cousin comes from a distant limb of the family tree. This variegated Japanese selection of the wonderful Himalayan perennial Caryopteris divaricata forms a small, compact deciduous clump composed of fuzzy, green, deer-resistant leaves, each surrounded with a bright white border and smelling amazingly like cat urine when crushed (important safety tip...do not crush leaves). Starting in mid-September, the fall-flowering clumps of Caryopteris 'Snow Fairy' are topped with delightful "blue curls." This is a real WOW plant that must be seen to be believed.
We have long valued the Mediterranean Centranthus ruber 'Coccineus' as a great garden perennial but have somehow failed to offer it in a while, so we're remedying the situation. For us, Jupiter's beard emerges in spring with glaucous green foliage adorning the base of the 3' tall flowering spikes that end with terminal clusters of tiny reddish-pink fragrant flowers. Peak flowering for us is May in NC, but Centranthus ruber continues producing flower spikes through the remainder of the summer when it is a magnet for butterflies. As with all Mediterranean plants, good drainage is key to success, along with soils that tend toward a neutral pH. Jupiter's beard seems to enjoy being divided every few years to stay vigorous. Centranthus ruber also makes a great cut flower, so plant plenty to have enough for arrangements.
For all of those northern transplants to the South who failed growing leadworts in their new home, we also had trouble until we discovered Ceratostigma griffithii. After it sailed through 0 degrees F in our severe 1996 winter, we began to propagate this dynamite species. The twiggy spreading growth clothed with dime-sized, round green leaves makes a large spreading mound to 2-3' wide. In late August, Ceratostigma griffithii becomes a mass of rich, pure blue flowers through autumn when the deciduous foliage takes on lovely hues of red and yellow...a favorite of butterflies, especially tiger swallowtails. In warmer climates, Ceratostigma griffithii should stay evergreen.