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.