Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday May 2014: Stachys coccinea

It's Wildflower Wednesday and time to join Gail at Clay and Limestone for a look at flowering native plants in the garden.  May's wildflower pick is Stachys coccinea or Texas Betony.

Looking for a deer-resistant native evergreen plant which covers a lot of ground quickly and flowers in the shade?  Impossible?  Not quite, that plant does exist and it's Texas Betony also known as Scarlet Betony and Scarlet Hedgenettle.  It could easily rate the common name "Hummingbird Magnet" as many sites mention it attracts hummingbirds.  Besides being evergreen it's almost ever blooming with just a short break in the coldest months and it's one of the earliest bloomers in my garden.  There doesn't seem to be a mention of it attracting the Hummingbird Moth but the red flowers were a real standout in my early spring garden and the Hummingbird Moths made a beeline for those bright tubular flowers!


As if it couldn't get any better the stems produce lots of tiny black seeds that are easy to scatter for more plants.  Just swat the stems around whenever you walk by and the seeds will fly all over the place.  They look almost like large poppy seeds but I haven't tried them on muffins!


Even though it is native to West Texas and Arizona, Stachys coccinea does like a bit of respite from the hot afternoon sun because it is most often found on the shady side of canyons.  I lost one planted in full sun so the rest are in at least afternoon shade.  The Native Plant Database states that it would make a good groundcover for a shady spot in the garden.  Each plant spreads to about 3 ft. diameter and from 1-3 ft. tall.  It does flop over a bit as it grows.

I have found that it does need just a little more water than many of my native plants during the hottest part of the summer but it's worth it for a deer resistant evergreen plant.  I water the garden only when necessary so any plant that seems to wilt in the afternoon heat is high maintenance in my garden.


It's slightly aromatic with fuzzy leaves which keeps the deer away.  I've had it planted right where the deer walk through the garden for about two years and have seen no signs of even a nibble.  Even though it is called Hedgenettle it's not nearly as prickly as nettle.  The flower stems are just a bit prickly so I wear gloves when cutting it back once in a while after blooming.


It's hardy from Zone 7a-10b, shade only in those higher zones.  I'm so glad I added this bright and beautiful native plant to my garden.

To see more wildflowers in gardens head over to Clay and Limestone for a look at Gail's gorgeously purple Downy Wood Mint.

25 comments:

  1. What a beautiful plant and how lovely that it is a native plant where you live. I love your hummingbird moth.

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    1. The moth is fascinating and I enjoy having them in the spring.

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  2. I love Texas Betony and your photos really capture the beauty of that plant well. Sadly, all of the betony that I had seems to have disappeared in the last year or so. I'll have to rectify that problem. Thanks for the great video of the Hummingbird Moth!

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    1. It was a tough winter to kill off Texas Betony. It does seem to a plant that just disappears when it's not happy with the conditions.

      Of course you'll need more in your shady garden.

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  3. That's beautiful. What's the root system like? Our stachys is an aggressive that once given a toehold will take the yard, and then the neighborhood...
    (stachys floridiana) but... Those tubers... Are good eatin... Too bad the flowers aren't pretty like yours.

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    1. So far I haven't noticed aggressive growth. With our drought it has been kept in check pretty well so it hasn't needed to be transplanted or thinned. Aggressive growth would be welcomed in our rocky limestone clay soil. The tubers didn't come up in my research so I'd have to check as it grows.

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  4. I enjoy your videos, I don't get to see Hummingbird moths very often. They are such wonderful flyers as a group, but people are not very tolerant of the large caterpillars, particularly the Tomato hornworm. I love tubular red flowers, they look very pretty and being deer resistant is a plus.

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  5. Your hummingbird impostor is so interesting! Thanks for posting your video. Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, their range doesn't include California.

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  6. These can do well here too and I just love your moving photos!

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    1. They are easy to do on Picasaweb. We were watching a Harry Potter movie recently and I noticed the moving pictures in their library books and thought it looked very much like my thumbnails.

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  7. I've actually grown this in my VA garden and it thrived but didn't make it through the winter. I noticed the stems seemed to break every time I moved them around but I still loved the plant. It actually grew in dryish partial shade for me. I should try it again as a fun summer annual. It's such a beauty.

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    1. It's great for attracting pollinators to the garden. That's interesting since it is rated to zone 7 but it does get very cold there at least once a winter.

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  8. Sounds like a winner--especially because it attracts hummingbirds and hummingbird moths! I always enjoy your motion.gifs! I'm sure I've seen this plant sold as an annual at our garden centers. I'll have to try it one of these days.

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    1. It would be a plant you could set out early and keep blooming well into fall in Wisconsin.

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  9. Wonderful video...for a minute I thought it was a hummer! I have to grow this as an annual, our winter weather is too wet. Happy WW.

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    1. Thanks Gail, I love WW!

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  10. I have a couple of very small betony starts that barely made it through the winter and I'd been looking forward to seeing them spread out a bit as the season progresses. Seeing how well yours are doing I'm excited to see if they'll take hold in yes, an area that is right where the deer walk through!

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    1. I'd be interested to know how they do in your area as deer seem to have different tastes depending on where they live.

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  11. Love the video Shirley. Been a while but I am picking up again.

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    1. I'll look forward to your new posts and I do seem to be adding more succulents for less work with my container plantings.

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  12. Another great moving picture! Back when I watered more often, I had a huge patch of Texas betony in full sun. I ended up putting my vegetable garden in that spot and moved the betony to shadier areas where it has not grown as aggressively.

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    1. Good to know since mine didn't last long in the sun. They would grow faster but would need even more water.

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  13. What a pretty plant, the flowers reminds me of small penstemons.

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    1. We do have a lot of flowers similar to penstemon. I think they do well in our heat.

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  14. Oh Shirley how gorgeous and what a delight for the critters too.

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