Fuzzy Wuzzy Plants

August 2nd, 2012 Posted in Insects, Summer plants, bees, birds, butterflies, caterpillars, companion plants, lawn replace, native plants

When it’s hot enough to scald our eyeballs walking across the street, garden fuzzie wuzzies tame our steaming souls.  Doesn’t this downy silk make you feel cooler already?

Milkweed seed floss

As you can imagine, the purpose behind this floss inside milkweeds (Asclepia) is to disperse their seeds via wind. And get this: the floss is actually harvested by some companies for pillows and comforters. It’s an excellent insulator!

Lamb’s ears is beloved in children’s gardens, since it’s as cuddly as a stuffed toy.

Lamb's ears fuzzy wuzzy
Mine have recently been plagued by sooty mold.

Lamb's ears sooty mold
Above them is a crape myrtle, under attack by whiteflies, secreting honeydew that is “raining” on everything.  Fungi thrive on this sugary substance, creating sooty mold on tree leaves and on understory plants where honeydew has collected. I simply pull off the damaged leaves, and new ones are already emerging.

By the way, we’ve given the tree some slow deep watering and jetted the leaves with water to get rid of the whiteflies. In just a few days, the tree is flowering again and actually putting on new leaves!

My latest fuzzy plant has made it to my winner’s circle.

Cobweb spiderwort

When I saw Cobweb spiderwort (Tradescantia sillamontana) at Paul Lofton’s garden, I fell for its downy foliage. He gave me a cutting, now thriving in a shady spot that gets hot afternoon sun. It’s known for being a shade plant, but I saw that Paul had some in sun. Seems to work but I think I’ll move it to a tamer area next year.

I have many spring-blooming spiderworts (Tradescantia gigantea): already emerging, if you can believe it. They make their tall statement in spring. Cobweb is a low rider as a handy summertime companion, since it will go underground in cold winters while its show-off cousin takes over.

Another companion plant that’s made my take-home list is hardy white gloxinia (Sinningia tubiflora).

Hardy white gloxinia

This diminutive groundcover “runs” like fuzzy heartleaf skullcap (Scutellaria ovata) but emerges in warmth, when heartleaf is going underground until cooler weather.

Another soft-touch is native woolly stemodia (Stemodia lanata).

Woolly stemodia

This one’s growing in hot spots at Mueller. But I’ve got a plan to include this sun-loving, good-drainage silver between stones to replace former grass.

Perennial, evergreen Dicliptera suberecta (also called hummingbird plant) attracts me with its velvety soft gray leaves. I’m a fan of its vivid flowers, as are the hummingbirds and many insects.

Dicliptera suberecta hummingbird plant
It’s tolerant of many situations, but like lots of  plants, prefers a shade break, whether it’s morning or afternoon.

Semi-shade lover Mexican honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera) also invites a pat on the head. As with Dicliptera, hummingbirds and others have a more prosaic goal: food.

Mexican honeysuckle

Blue mist flowers (many varieties of Conoclinium/Eupatorium) are truly fuzzy little flowers. They go for the gold in fall when butterflies are all over them. In late summer, they give a sneak preview.

Blue mist flower fuzzy wuzzy

Now, globe mallow doesn’t have the fuzziest leaves in town, but they’re a soft break against smooth green ones.

Globe mallow silver leaves
Mexican olive (Cordia boissieri) is a bold shrub/small tree with huge soft leaves.

Mexican olive leaves
Bonus points: even in blazing heat, it keeps cranking out flowers. Okay, I’ve added it to my cooler weather projects!

Mexican olive flowers

So, yes, caterpillars eat things. But a memory I carry from childhood is stroking woolly bear caterpillars or other bristly ones.  I still do it and don’t kill a one.  This one is the Salt Marsh.

Salt Marsh caterpillar on larkspur
They’ll pupate into pollinating moths. Perhaps the babies are so fuzzy wuzzy because we like to watch them and pat them, rather than squishing them! Unless there’s a serious invasion, plant life will go on.

Wishing you warm fuzzy wuzzies on a hot day, and thanks for checking in! Linda

  1. 8 Responses to “Fuzzy Wuzzy Plants”

  2. By Tina on Aug 2, 2012

    Oh, you’re showing some of my favorites and great shots, too! Like yours, my spiderwort are emerging already. I like that Cobweb spiderwort–I’m eager to see pics of it in the spring. The Mexican olive is a plant I’d like to have–no room though. Maybe in the next garden!

    Reply

    Linda reply on August 2nd, 2012 5:07 pm:

    Hi, Tina! Isn’t a hoot about the spiderworts? I’ll keep an eye on cobweb for you. Yes, I’m really looking around for a spot for the Mexican olive. I’m thinking of pulling out the screening primrose jasmines for it.

    Reply

  3. By Katina on Aug 2, 2012

    I really need to get a mexican honeysuckle… my gregg’s mistflower in the rain garden area is going ballistic. my plumeria is also getting ready to bloom – FINALLY.

    Reply

    Linda reply on August 3rd, 2012 2:25 pm:

    I just got my first Mexican honeysuckle and want more! Yahoo on your plumeria and the mistflower!

    Reply

  4. By Cat on Aug 3, 2012

    Loving all the fuzzies in your garden ;) While at the MG desk Tuesday we probably had 20 calls about the honeydew. It’s everywhere! I’ve got to find a place for the gregg’s mistflower. I regret not getting it in the ground every fall.

    Reply

    Linda reply on August 3rd, 2012 6:14 pm:

    Hi, Cat, yes, honeydew is the top question right now. And how wonderful that you’re behind the MG phone. Gregg’s mistflower is a lovely but it does run like crazy.

    Reply

  5. By Linda/patchwork on Aug 6, 2012

    Love all of these. That shot of the milkweed pod is stunning.
    You solved the mystery of what the tree we saw at SA Botanical garden is. The Mexican Olive. There was no sign for it, but I loved the blooms. Now, wonder if the deer would eat it…hmmmm

    Reply

    Linda reply on August 8th, 2012 1:14 pm:

    Hi, Linda! Thank you! Yes, isn’t that tree lovely? And supposedly deer resistant!

    Reply

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