Tag Archives: perennial

Nepeta faassenii ‘Dropmore Blue’

Nepeta is a genus of many species of mostly perennials.  Ornamental Nepeta is often called catmint but should not be confused with the catmint that cats adore. The drug of choice for cats is Nepeta cataria (catnip). Looking similar but it is larger and more loosely formed with white flowers that have purple spots.

The Nepeta I like to grow in the garden is Nepeta faassenii ‘Dropmore Blue’. This variety is much showier and compact with large lavender blue flowers. It also will not attract cats into your yard.

Sensible Gardening and Living

Sensible Gardening and Living

Nepeta can be grown in any well drained soil and is very drought tolerant and heat and sun tolerant. The leaves are aromatic and it will bloom from early summer to frost. It is probably one of the best plants for attracting bees that you can grow. I use it extensively in our garden because of our apiary. The bees love it.

Plants are fast growers, vigorous and never bothered by disease or pests. To keep Nepeta looking its best, cut it severely back into a tight clump about half waythrough the summer. It will quickly re-grow and produce a fresh blush of blooms to feed the bees right though until late autumn.


Nepeta / Sensible Gardening and Living

There are pink and white flowering varieties however I do not find them to be as reliable or showy as the lavender blue types. As well the bees are not as attracted to them.

You can use nepeta in rock gardens, as edging, to cover slopes, and in borders and pots. Plant with bright orange flowers for a show stopping display.

Nepeta ‘Dropmore Blue’

Nepeta ‘Snowflake’

Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’

Nepeta ‘Nervosa’

Plant Pros: bee favorite / drought tolerant / deer resistant / disease and pest free / blooms all summer / fast grower

Plant Cons: if over watered or fertilized will center out / might self seed

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Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)


Probably one of the most popular low growing perennials. Clear, bright white flowers completely cover the narrow leaves in the spring. The evergreen foliage stays looking good all season after the flowers have finished. It forms low clumps about 6 inches high and makes an excellent edger.

Candytuft / Sensible Gardening and Living

Candytuft / Sensible Gardening and Living

When in full bloom it is really spectacular and after blooming remains tidy and attractive.  You can grow candytuft in full sun or part shade. It will tolerate poor soil, prefers well drained soil and is quite drought tolerant.  Since it is an evergreen do not cut back the foliage, only shear off the top couple inches after blooming to prevent it from getting leggy. If you prune it too much you will spoil next years blooms and might also damage the plant.

Candytuft is hardy to zone 5 but appreciates snow cover in cold winters and protection as well from cold winds. Should plants die back from winter frost and turn brown, they will regrow from the base but will miss a years blooming.

Candytuft is very useful in rock gardens, edging sidewalks and borders, mass planted and grown on slopes and banks. You can divide your plants every 3 to 4 years. Some years your candytuft will lightly re-bloom in the fall.  My favorite cultivar is “ Little Gem” as it is very compact and loaded with flowers.

PRO: long season of bloom / evergreen foliage / brilliant blooms /  tidy habit / excellent edger / drought tolerant

CON: not deer resistant / slugs and snails may bother it / can be damagad by icy winds

This post can be viewed as a VIDEO at Sensible Gardening You Yube Channel


Donkey Tail Spurge (Euphorbia Myrsinites)

Donkey Tail Spurge is also sometimes called Myrtle Spurge. This is really an interesting and fun plant.  Belonging to the very large group of plants called Euphorbias, donkey tail is an evergreen perennial with spiral, rounded succulent blue gray waxy leaves.

In spring it bears bright chartreuse yellow – green flowering bracts which literally glow in the sun.

Donkey Tail Spurge / Sensible Gardening and Living

Donkey Tail Spurge / Sensible Gardening and Living

This spurge is a plant for the dry garden requiring very little watering, and prefers a light, sandy well drained soil. Place this plant in full sun as it is very heat and sun tolerant. It gives the impression of a desert plant and looks great in rock gardens, as an edging or on slopes. It grows into a clump about 4 inches tall and 12 inches wide which makes it an ideal ground cover. It will also grow in semi shade.

Donkey spurge is relatively hardy as it grows in zone 5 and it’s foliage is attractive for the entire season. It does self seed rather well and unwanted seedlings should be removed when small. Seedlings transplant extremly well if you want to move them around your garden.

Be careful when working around donkey tail spurge as it contains a milky sap which is very caustic and can blister skin. There is no need to prune this plant but be careful when brushing by it. The sap is severe enough that I probably would not grow this plant if there are small children roaming around the garden beds. Otherwise, it’s a real work horse for the northern xeriscape garden.

Pro: deer resistant /  drought tolerant / unique / easily propagated

Con: caustic sap / self seeds easily / considered invasive in some southern areas

You can also view this post as a VIDEO at Sensible Gardening You Tube Channel