What flowering plant would you not want to do without in your garden and why? (zip code shown when available)

Sun, May 01, 2016 8:19 AM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

Jane Morton: I could not do without any of the cistus (rockrose). I have many varieties, in several colors and sizes and really enjoy them, as they are often the first to bloom each year. I especially like that they are wonderful hillside plants, are covered with flowers during a long bloom, and use almost no water, once established. My most recent is the large, white saucer sized flower (Cistus ‘Blanca’) that is expected to reach seven feet on a south facing hillside, near the coast; planted next to an area of Cape Plumbago. I am rewarded with a year-long show of flowers. (92075)


Marilyn Wilson: Grevilleas from Australia. I have several varieties and at least one is blooming all the time. I’m a cut-flower girl, and grevilleas make excellent cut flowers.  

Tynan Wyatt: Sweet almond verbena (Aloysia virgata)! Goodness, that fragrance never gets old and the butterflies and bees love it too!

Catherine Tylka: I love my aloes. They blossom year round, if you have a variety. The hummingbirds love them too, and all the people I share them with. (92026)    

Nancy Woodard: I love salvias. There are so many different colors, sizes, and bloom times. There is always something gorgeous to see. The scent of the leaves fills the surrounding area with a wonderful aroma. It is always a pleasure to work in the garden nearby.

Christine Vargas: Brugmansia! I have double white, yellow and pink and love the aroma in the evening – it is scentsational!

Nick Stavros: Abutilon – I think of this as the “bread and butter” for hummingbirds. Sure, they love all the other things that bloom in the garden, but Abutilon always seems to have something blooming, especially when nothing else is in bloom.

Pat Venolia: Oh my gosh, this question is like being asked to pick the favorite of my four children… it can’t be done! However, predictably I’ll say camellias… but then I’ll also list roses (‘Sevillana’), and alstroemeria. (92084)

Jean Emery:  If you like bright orange (I do), I have had a Cape honeysuckle (Tecomaria capensis) growing in a big pot for almost four years. I hack it back once a year and fertilize; it withstands forgetfulness, neglect, and watering restrictions. Almost constantly in bloom and is like a hummingbird feeder without the fuss!

Michelle Sund: Hesperaloe paviflora – the hummingbirds LOVE it!

Al and Dora Jean Myrick: Lady Banks’ rose (Rosa banksiae), covers our west side garden on a giant, ten-foot high trellis, ¾ of the length of the house. It begins to bloom in late February and many blossoms last until mid-April. It is practically thornless, takes little care or water and is virtually pest-free and never needs dead-heading or pruning. Our west side one is white, but we also have a yellow one farther down the canyon. In its blossoming peak it resembles a snowy white cloud, 40 feet long, 10-15 feet deep and 15 feet wide (but it would grow wider and longer if we let it.) How could anything else beat this in the spring? In the summer it is a shade tree!

Jeannine Romero: That’s like asking to choose my favorite child. It is hard to choose just one, but I would have to go with lavender and any jasmine. Why? I think that is what heaven must smell like.  

Karin Peterson: White and pink rockrose. Beautiful flowers, good screening, and does not need much water or attention. (92067)

Kathleen Voltin: Gardenia; I absolutely love the fragrance of my ‘Mystery’ gardenias, and they look so beautiful while opening. I traveled with a cut flower in a ziplock baggie and it stayed fresh for days without water. Quite a remarkable and resilient flower!

Susan Halenza: Alstroemeria: 1) It brings happy colors (wide range) to my garden and has a long blooming season. 2) Returns to flower the following year. 3) Makes great arrangements.  

Janet Segvich: Alstroemeria: Long bloom period, easy to care for, variety of lovely, showy colors, heights from dwarf to tall, can be easily moved, and they spread. Most of all, they seem to really like my yard.

Chris Drayer: Aloes – Some of the most beautiful flowers on some of the toughest and most versatile plants available for our gardens.  

Jason Chen: Some flowering things I can’t be without. I can’t live without camellias. Probably last on many people’s list of plants, but what other shade plant looks great year-round, with dark green foliage and blooms when little else is flowering during the dead of winter? Relatively drought tolerant when established, it is definitely my go-to plant. The palette is so varied. Not just the traditional big and blousy ones, I tend to like the specialty cultivars, Higos, species and yellow flowering types. Or for the foliage, color/textures or contorted branching of ‘Unryu’. (92123)  

Elizabeth Woodward: Do I have to pick just one? There are two flowers that I cannot do without in my garden: Alstroemeria ‘Casablanca’ that I purchased through Liz Youngflesh at Garden Glories Nursery. They are tall beauties with a free spirit and brighten my garden from late winter through summer. There are plenty of blooms to grace my garden and enough to cut and bring inside or make a bouquet for a friend. I love many of the Alstroemerias but ‘Casablanca’ is my favorite. My other favorites are the Hardy Garden Gerbera (Gerbera ‘Drakensberg’). These incredible, daisy-like flowers bloom nonstop and are resistant to pests and disease. Mine have been blooming their little hearts out for over seven years. They are a bit difficult to find. I bought my first ones at the San Diego Botanic Garden Fall Plant Sale in white and pink. Once in awhile I have spotted them at a nursery and usually scoop them up for myself or to give to someone else.

Constance Forest: I have to say pelargoniums, commonly called geraniums. Yes, I know they are not exotic and you can find them in any nursery and most yards, but the blooms and the leaves are shaped and colored in myriad ways, and it is the most forgiving plant I know. It may not thrive in all soils and exposures, but it will usually survive and provide color even when it is neglected. I have not even mentioned the various scents pelargoniums provide. Though I admit to sometimes taking my ‘peles’ for granted, I would miss them terribly if they were not in my garden.

Tim Biggart: The plant that pops into my mind is the lowly, yet lovely yellow Oxalis that forms a carpet of yellow in my front garden. Its arrival and departure are early and rapid but still it leaves a long lasting impression, reminding me how wonderful plants can be.

Vivian Black: The iris; it has multiple blooms and gives such delight to all passersby. I have about two dozen yellow Iris plants. They are a delight to share as they keep producing for me and my friends.

Gail Nye: Trichocereus cactus, so much fun to watch. Flowers don’t last long, but they are popping out all over.

Carol Brewer: Roses are my favorite flowers, as they bloom several times a year and some of them have great perfume. Our number two favorites are Martha Washington perlargoniums, as they have a wide range of bloom colors and bloom shapes, but sadly, no perfume. (The picture is of our garden this year).

Dawn Standke: The flowering plant that I wouldn’t want to do without is passion vine – which is cheating a little bit because I would want to keep both kinds: Passiflora edulis that gives me flowers and delicious passion fruit, plus my purple passion vine that doesn’t produce fruit but attracts Gulf fritillary butterflies. The caterpillars eat the leaves, but they have not defoliated the vine and the flowers are a nectar source for the adult butterflies. Purple passion vine is also an amazingly low water user. We have it growing with no irrigation at all; it may have its roots over in our neighbor’s backyard. Between the two vines we have attention getting flowers, fruit, and butterflies. We’re so glad to live in San Diego, where growing passion vine is easy. (92129)  


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