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Dallas Morning News - August 7, 2019


Mistflower And Almond Verbena – Two Must Have Plants


Whether my presentation is about plants or insect control, it's hard not to include two plants that all gardeners should have - white mistflower and almond verbena. No other plants attract beneficial insects like these do, plus they have other great features.

 

The first of these easy-to-grow perennials, white mistflower, has a couple of negatives – hard to find in nurseries and the names are confusing. But it’s worth the effort.

 


White mistflower is a better pollinator attractor than the blue-purple variety

 

White mistflower is Eupatorium wrightii (Ageratina wrightii) according to Aggie Horticulture. According the Wildflower Center in Austin the name is Ageratina havanensis with synonyms Eupatorium havanensis and E. texensis. Confused? Just ask for white mistflower.

 

To make matters worse, other common names include Wright's boneset, Wright Ageratina, Wright Eupatorium, Wright's snakeroot, shrubby boneset, white shrub mistflower and Havana snakeroot. The blue relative is Eupatorium or Conoclinium greggii.

 


White mistflower with honey bees and hairstreak butterfly

White mistflower & beneficial hoverfly

 

White mistflower is a lacy, woody perennial with delicate white flowers as early as July until hard frost. Does well in sun or light shade and grows to 2-6 ft. tall, with leafy branches with clusters of fragrant white or pinkish white ageratum-like flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Fruits are 1/5 inch long, with a crown of bristles on one end.

 

Adapts to most well-drained soils and really likes the natural-organic program. Heavy shearing in the winter will promote denser shape and more flowers the following year. Best if pruned to 3' after first hard frost. It is drought tolerant and can be transplanted year-round if cut back by one third.

 

Second must-have plant is almond verbena (Aloysia virgata). The only other common name is sweet almond verbena and everyone seems to agree with the one botanical name. It is the most insect-attracting plant I have ever grown, the fragrance is out of this world and it blooms from early spring to the first hard freeze.

 


Almond verbena with hairstreak butterfly

 

It grows to a height of 10’ – 15' with a spread of 8’ – 10' – so it gets big and needs some space. It thrives in full sun but can adapt to partial shade. Native of Argentina but it can be grown pretty much anywhere in the country. The flowers strongly resemble buddleia. It’s a deciduous, woody perennial for us here in north Texas but can be evergreen in mild winters. I usually cut mine to the ground every winter.

 


Almond verbena is the best pollinator attractor in my garden

Almond verbena with monarch butterfly
 

 

It has few if any disease or insect pest problems and is easy to grow in well-drained beds in most soils. The wonderful flowers are a magnet to butterflies, bees, wasps and other nectar feeding pollinators. You'll understand why when you get the whiff.

 

 

 

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