Twinleaf, Jeffersonia diphylla

With short-lived pure white flowers and curious-looking seedpods, this early spring bloomer named after a US President makes a great addition to native plantings or as a shady groundcover. Its common name of twinleaf comes from the interesting butterfly-shaped leaves. Learn more about Jeffersonia diphylla in this article…

Chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla

With attractive ferny foliage and eye-catching blooms, chamomile can be a nice addition to the ornamental garden or herb garden. This Eurasian annual is easily grown from seed for its yellow and white daisy flowers that are harvested to make chamomile tea. Learn more about Matricaria chamomilla in this article…

Grape Hyacinth, Muscari armeniacum

For a hit of intense blue in the garden in mid-spring, Muscari armeniacum can’t be beat. This small perennial bulb produces clusters of bell-shaped flowers that resemble bunches of grapes, giving rise to the common name grape hyacinth. Learn more about this European species in this article…

Rhubarb, Rheum rhabarbarum

Rhubarb is the first “fruit” of the season – used as a fruit, but grows like a vegetable. With huge leaves on long red to green petioles it can also make a dramatic statement in the garden. This old fashioned perennial is very easy to grow, coming back bigger year after year with little care. To learn more about rhubarb, read this article…

Lenten Rose, Helleborus ×hybridus

Early in the spring when little else but spring bulbs are blooming, Lenten Rose is pushing up its flower spikes and deeply divided, leathery, umbrella-like leaves. The long-lasting sepals in an open, bell shape offer ornamental interest long after the seeds have developed. Learn more about this herbaceous perennial native to Asia and Europe in this article…

Woodland Phlox, Phlox divaricata

For soft blue flowers in partly shady spots in spring, nothing beats woodland phlox. This North American native thrives in dappled shade and moist, well-drained soils. With an open, relaxed habit it fits well in informal shady beds, rock gardens and wild or naturalized areas.  Learn more about this pretty late spring to early summer bloomer in this article…

Prairie dropseed, Sporobolus heterolepis

One of the showiest prairie grasses, Sporobolus heterolepis is frequently cultivated as an ornamental for its attractive fountain of fine textured, emerald-green leaves, delicate flower and seed heads, and colorful fall color. Learn more about this elegant native North American bunchgrass that makes a great addition to almost any type of landscape…

Ginger, Zingiber officinale

Many species of tropical gingers are grown for their flashy blooms, but the plants of culinary ginger aren’t particularly ornamental. Instead, culinary ginger is grown for the aromatic rhizomes which are the source of the hot, pungent flavor enjoyed in ginger ale, gingerbread and many Asian foods. Learn more about this tropical plant which is surprisingly easy to grow in containers…

Gloriosa lily, Gloriosa superba

The exotic flowers of gloriosa lily, with their amazing color and an unusual shape, make a flamboyant statement in the garden or in a container on a patio.  This twining perennial vine with tendrils coming from the tips of the leaves grows from a tuberous rhizome to produce the striking flowers in summer and fall. Learn more about this climber native to Africa and Asia in this article…

Heliconias

For most Midwesterners, if they recognize a heliconia at all, it’s as a brightly colored, long-lasting component of a bouquet of tropical flowers. The genus Heliconia is a large group of plants native to tropical areas of the Americas with banana-like leaves and conspicuous inflorescences. Learn more about these showy, interesting plants in this article…

Bat-faced cuphea, Cuphea llavea

At this time of year Halloween-themes dominate, with pumpkins, ghosts and bats abounding, so in that spirit here’s a Halloween-themed flower: bat-faced cuphea. The name comes from the resemblance of the unique flowers to a little bat face when viewed from the right angle. Learn more about this Mexican native which is often offered as an annual in cool climates…

Baneberry, Actaea spp.

With finely cut foliage that remains attractive through the growing season and conspicuous fruit which provide ornamental interest into the fall, red baneberry and white baneberry are two similar woodland plants that can be great additions to shady gardens. These species do have poisonous fruit, so need to be used with caution. Learn more about these native perennials …

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