Cercis canadensis aka Eastern Red Bud Tree aka Judas tree

Medium light, medium soil moisture, low maintenance plant.

Zones 4-8

Blooms in March, deciduous, 20′-30′ tall, wide spreading branches

Attracts butterflies

Native to eastern US

Mature trees grow large brown seed pods especially in wet years

Member of bean and pea family

Problems:
Canker, wilt, dieback
Several insects love to eat this plant

Difficult to grow from cuttings, keep warm ~ 75’F if attempting to do so

Legend claims Judas hung from this tree

Salvia lyrata aka Lyre-leaved Sage

I found these growing in a boggy area along a pathway.

Perennial herb, wild throughout eastern and midwestern US, zones 5-10

Cold, wet winters will kill it, it prefers drier areas

Blooming late March ( spring – summer depending on location )

Considered invasive in some locations. Many home owners mow it after it flowers.

Considered a medicinal plant, Gray’s Pharmacopoeia (1848) lists its uses for warts and cancer but studies haven’t found any medicinal uses. aka Cancer Weed

Well liked by bees and butterflies

Easy to grow from seed

Pink Shell Prunus aka Ornamental Cherry

I had forgotten about this tree, it was so buried in deep shade in a very dry section of the garden. It has survived droughts, floods, frosts, and bright, hot Houston afternoon sun before the oak shaded it out. Despite this it’s about 12′ tall and about 6′ across. I think I picked it up at an Arbor Day Give a Way as a 12″ tall twig.

Last year I cleared out a lot of the overhead branches and it must’ve received enough sun to bloom, or the cold tripped it? Many fruit trees, even ornamentals, need several nights below freezing to flower and fruit. Be sure to check the number of ‘chill days’ needed on any fruit tree you buy. Only a few get enough nights below freezing in Houston to fruit.

Mine’s not an impressive bloomer, perhaps now that it has bloomed it’ll improve each year? I have seen many of these putting on impressive shows around town. I’m hoping with the added sun this one will too next spring.

Blooming occurs late Feb. early March

I highly recommend it. I’ll try taking a few cuttings in the fall and see how easy it is to propagate. I’d love to have a few more of these around.

Heliamphora ( Sun Pitchers )

These grow on the mountains in Venezuela where they receive lots of sun, humidity, water and cool temperatures, which drop significantly at night. All of which makes them a challenging plant to grow. I’ve slaughtered many.

First discovered in 1839 by explorers there are many species. The mountains are flat topped and widely separated leading to many similar, but different plants.

These are carnivores, but use a bacteria in the pitcher fluid to break down the insects instead of producing their own enzymes. There was and is an ongoing debate as to how carnivorous they are.

Outside through the Houston fall-winter-spring they do very well. It’s too warm in the summer for Heliamphoras to be outside. I have two growing quite well in terrariums, one on a windowsill that gets lots of morning light, one in a niche that has a light directly over the terrarium.

Humidity seems to override all other things when growing Sun Pitchers. Bright light is next and like all carnivorous plants distilled water is best. I’ve not found a daily temperature change to be important for growing, it might be for flowering? Every time I’ve removed it from the terrarium it’s begun to die back, starting by browning at the top edge of the pitchers.

Echinacea purpurea aka Purple Coneflower

Perennial, loves sun, doesn’t mind occasional dry spells, benefits from dead heading and dividing clumps every 3 years or so.

Native to North America, there are about 9 species in this genus. It’s been a garden favorite as far back as the early 1900s where it is often referred to as the ‘dull pink coneflower’

It is a strongly recommended addition to bee and butterfly gardens and said to be deer resistant

Rudbeckia hirta aka Black Eyed Susan

Not surprisingly this is in the sunflower branch of the family tree and North American native.

It loves lots of sun, tolerate occasional dry spells and are easily grown from seed or pick up a flat of the plants and plant them.

They are perennials, divide them every few years to keep them flowering.

Dead heading the plants ( cut off spent flowers before they go to seed ) will prolong the blooming cycle.

Used in traditional medicine, not all the parts are edible. ( Don’t try it at home ) There are many references to it as a kitchen garden plant as far back as the early 1800s. The older mentions all reference the orange center, not all the newer varieties still have the orange center.

Nepenthes Coccinea

Nepenthes rafflesiana x ampullaria x mirabilis

This is one of those plants that was every where and now is very difficult to track down. It was loved by the Victorians. Scientific American had a story on it in 1882. The only seller I’ve found is Lee’s Botanical Gardens, if anyone knows of any other sources please let me know. I’d hate for this plant to vanish.

I find it likes a mostly shady window with about an hour or two of direct sun. Like all my neps this one is growing in an orchid basket filled with sphagnum and sitting in a dish with an 1″ or so of distilled water.

It is an American hybrid which made its way across to England and the rest of Europe. I’m told it started the Nepenthes craze that followed.

I had a bit of a time getting it settled in the house, it likes humidity but is far too large to fit in a terrarium. Most so since its a climber.

I’ve also been told there is more than one version of Nep. Coccinea around. I was unable to adapt the other version to windowsill life.