In honor of St. Valentine, here are some of my favorite plants named for love, passion and romance.
Dianthus ‘Angel of Desire’
Pinks are garden classics suitable for rock gardens, cottage gardens, edging a perennial border, and container gardens. They are compact plants that form tufts of evergreen blue-green foliage attractive in the garden year round. Their only requirement besides a spot bathed in sunshine is very well-drained soil.
Angel of Desire is from the Scent from Heaven series. It blooms from spring to fall with clove-scented flowers. Each of its dark pink petals is touched with two paint strokes of white.
Cimicifuga ‘Black Negligee’
Fragrant, creamy-white bottlebrush flowers tower over the deeply cut, dark purple, lacy foliage of Cimicifuga ‘Black Negligee’. Flowers can easily reach 4 to 5 feet tall.
A lovely companion to hostas, plant this graceful and romantically risqué perennial in part to full shade in fertile soil enriched with organic matter. Foliage may scorch if the soil dries out.
Hibiscus ‘Sultry Kiss’
This bold perennial commands attention when it’s blooming from midsummer to frost. Seductive deep red buds open to magenta flowers with red throats. Maple-like foliage unfurls coppery-bronze and matures to dark green. Stems are reddish-purple.
Plant Hibiscus ‘Sultry Kiss’ in full sun to light shade in consistently moist, but not soggy soil. Give this exhibitionist plenty of room. It can grow up to five feet tall and wide!
Position it toward the back of the perennial border where its bold foliage will contrast beautifully with fine textured perennials like yarrow or Russian sage.
When purple love grass is in bloom, it looks a cloud of reddish purple smoke. This native, warm season grass grows up to eighteen inches tall and two to three feet wide. The foliage forms graceful clumps of light green leaves that turn bronze red in autumn. In August, a mist of fine textured flower plumes top the foliage.
Eragrostis spectabilis grows best in full sun in well-drained soil. It is quite drought tolerant.
Utilize purple love grass in mass plantings to get the best flowering show or plant it in perennial border with other late summer bloomers like goldenrod, black-eyed Susans or sedum.
Dangling hearts line arching stems of Dicentra spectabilis to proclaim their love of spring in a partly shaded garden. They form clumps of fresh green, fern-like foliage up to three feet wide and nearly as tall.
Plant bleeding hearts in soil generously amended with organic matter. Part shade is preferred but if the soil is consistently moist, they can handle quite a bit of direct sunlight.
Plants are prompted into dormancy by summer temperatures so be sure to plant other large perennials nearby to fill the space they leave behind. Hostas do the job in my garden, but ferns are another good choice.
Forget-me-nots are prized for their blue flowers in spring. It is a woodland classic often planted amongst spring-blooming bulbs. This short-lived perennial is often sold as an annual in garden centers, but regularly self-sows its own replacements.
Plant forget-me-nots in fertile, evenly moist, well-drained soil in woodland gardens. They may be small in stature – just 6 to 12 inches tall – but they are large on charisma.
Instead of getting roses and a box of chocolates, I would favor a gift card to my favorite local garden center to choose some living Valentines for my garden. Or…to be completely honest…I’d prefer to receive them all.
Happy Valentine’s Day! It won’t be long now until you can garden with me!