Plants of the Week – August 13

Plants of the Week – August 13


Orthosiphon stamineus is an interesting tender perennial just starting to bloom outside the Wister Center.  This native of Eastern Asia, a member of the Lamiaceae family, has long been used for its medicinal properties.  In Southeast Asia it is known as Misai Kucing and is used to make Java tea which helps heal kidney and urinary problems; however, it is also commonly cultivated for its unusual flowers.  It gets its common name cat’s whiskers from its tall stalks of white flowers with long “whiskery” stamens, which makes it a unique plant for containers or garden beds. The flowers also attract butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds so it would make a good plant for a pollinator’s garden.  It is easy to grow and blooms continuously. photo credit: J. Ahrweiler


Hedychium, the ginger lily, has been spicing up our container plantings during the summer with its striking architectural form.  Now it is starting to bloom, displaying brightly colored stalks of orchid-like blooms. Though commonly called ginger lily, it is not related to the lily family but is related to true gingers.  Many species cultivated have been shown to be hardy only to zone 7b, so will have to be taken in here.  These flowers have a pleasing honeysuckle fragrance and are attractive to hummingbirds. The Hedychium ‘Flaming Torch’ seen here in the Scott Entrance Garden containers has bright orange stalks of flowers. This variety can grow 6 to 7 feet tall and following its first flowering in mid-July it will send up new shoots which will bloom in mid-september. photo credit: J. Ahrweiler


Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’ is another herbaceous perennial consisting of short spikes of snapdragon-like pink flowers.  It is a handsome plant currently in bloom in the Fragrance Garden next to Clothier Hall.  There is an interesting story behind this perennial.  As legend goes, Chelone was a goddess who refused to attend Zeus and Hera’s wedding and in turn was transformed into a turtle.  Assop’s Fables tells it that Zeus invited all the animals to his wedding and Khelone the tortoise, who at that time had no shell, was the only one not to attend.  When questioned why she was not present she answered “there is no place like home,” where upon Zeus ordered her to forevermore carry her home around with her.  And the flowers of Chelone resemble turtle heads and so adopted the name and the common name ‘Turtlehead Flowers’.  This is a great long-blooming perennial, nice for borders and as a backdrop for shorter plants preferring moist soil and woodland conditions. Other attractive features are year-long red stems and bronze-green colored new growth in the spring. photo credit: J. Ahrweiler


Sedums are known to be pretty easy to grow and quite durable in heat and dryness.  Sedum rupestre ‘Lemon Coral’, however, is an award-winning sedum.  This sedum is a low-growing, carpet-like groundcover with golden-yellow foliage and yellow star-shaped flowers.  In the winter, it might be tinged reddish-orange, providing some winter color.  It is very durable, and once planted will only need occasional watering.  It makes a great groundcover, adds a splash of color to containers or cascades down a wall and does well on rocky slopes.  Here, it is seen bordering a walkway in the John W. Nason Garden. photo credit: J. Ahrweiler

Jessica Ahrweiler
  • Jody Downer
    Posted at 08:54h, 17 August Reply

    Jess – Love the pictures with the article – enjoyed reading it without pix, but better with! Best wishes for the future – we’ll miss you.

  • Donald Kakas
    Posted at 14:34h, 21 August Reply

    Excellant information for learning about new and different plants. Look forward to seeing this monthly.

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