Deadheading and Moth Dancing

Late June is a weird time in the garden – all the spring bloomers are finishing up and in need of a cleaning, the summer flowers are just kicking into gear, and the late summer perennials are finally showing some vigor. The heat that makes my Eastern and woodland species wilt brings the Southwestern natives backto life.
This time of year I usually leave a lot of spent flower stalks standing, partly to see what free seedlings will show up, and partly because I like the structure many of them offer. But Salvia daghestanica is one that I am possessed to clean up as soon as it’s finished blooming because I absolutely adore the lush textured, woolly-silver foliage, far and above more attractive than the gentian-blue flowers (my opinion!)

PLATINUM sage in bloom


Speaking of cutting off old flower stalks, this spring I experimented with “deadheading” Silverheels Horehound (Marrubium rotundifolium). It blooms really early in the spring – the off-white flowers aren’t all that showy, but if you remove them really early, the foliage is SO much more spectacular:

Silverheels horehound

I left a couple of plants untrimmed until last week, and they aren’t near as attractive as the plants with the early haircuts… but the downside is that there are several species of pollinators, including moths and bees, that go crazy for the flowers. So, if you want to encourage a wider range of flying wildlife but you also want to have a beautiful border, try pruning some plants back early, but leave the others for the bugs and bees.

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