Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Texas Betony (Stachys coccinea)

When winter cold arrives and most of our plants are down to sticks and stems, I appreciate Texas Betony, also known as Scarlet Betony and Scarlet Hedgenettle.  This native Texas perennial remains firmly evergreen, a cheerful oasis in a brown landscape. 

I like it the rest of the year too.  Texas Betony blooms tubular red flowers from March into October, sometimes later, even through the blast of last summer when a lot of plants gave up.

And the flowers attract hummingbirds.  As one of the few plants blooming during fall migration, the plants around our porch got a lot of traffic last October, giving my cats hours  of nose-to-glass entertainment.

<---See the black-chinned hummingbird amid the blooms?

Texas Betony is a perennial herb happiest growing in well-drained sand, loam or clay in dappled-shade to part-sun (morning).  Water needs are moderate.

Hardy in zones 7a-10b, established plants will handle temperatures down to -17F, although stems will redden and new leaves may burn at the colder end of the scale.

And, Ta-Da!, deer don't eat it.  The arrow-shaped leaves are strongly-scented and fuzzy, a double deer-deterrent.

Individual plants grow in a low mound 12-24" tall and wide.  In good conditions, the plants will grow into a sprawl.  And Texas Betony produces prolific seed, giving rise to seedlings in open areas.  These characteristics make this plant a good shady-area groundcover.  Gardeners who want a more compact appearance can trim back longer stems to keep the look of a mound.

Evergreen, shady-area ground cover, blooms and hummingbirds, deer-resistant.  Texas Betony has a lot to offer.  You'll thank yourself for adding it to your garden.

For more great plants, click on over to Appalachian Feet's How to Find Great Plants ezine.

Copyright 2009-2011 Kathleen Scott, for Hill Country Mysteries. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.


texasdeb said...

I am always on the lookout for a tried and true deer resistant bloomer and this fits the bill. I'll add this to my spring planting list for sure. Thanks for the nod!

Patchwork said...

This looks like one I need to try. I have..or will, when I finish digging...beds that will be a good spot for them.
Thanks for the tip.

Sarcastic Bastard said...

I always learn something good from you. I love you tons.


Casa Mariposa said...

Isn't Texas Betony aslo called Scarlet Hedgenettle? This grew really well in my garden for one season but didn't come back. Drat!

Rebecca said...

Great plant-I'm sure the hummingbirds do love it.. Thanks for the info!