About Poncha Pass Red Sulphur Buckwheat | 2014 Plant Of The Year
About Poncha Pass Red Sulphur Buckwheat
By David Salman, High Country Gardens Founder and Chief Horticulturist
The High Country Gardens 2014 Plant of the Year was Poncha Pass Red Sulfur Buckwheat. It is interesting to note how some really great plants seem to hang around my greenhouse and gardens for a long time before I get around to introducing them. I’m not sure why I keep them to myself, but this is certainly the case with Eriogonum umbellatum ‘Poncha Pass Red’. I don’t even remember the exact year I found this fantastic plant in its native habitat, but I do remember my excitement when I saw the colony of these plants growing along a Colorado roadside. I came upon the plants in full seed, which might sound boring, except for the fact that the seed heads are bright orange-red.
Eriogonum (Sulfur Buckwheat) is a totally under-appreciated native plant family that finds its sweet spot in the Western US where there are many dozens of species and subspecies. And many of the Buckwheats are actually small evergreen shrubs. Such is the case with ‘Poncha Pass Red’, although it is a very small shrub that has woody stems and evergreen foliage. The plant blooms in late spring with showy umbels of bright yellow. Then as the flowers mature to seed set, they turn brilliant orange-red.
As if this weren’t enough to convince you to plant it, Eriogonum is a fantastic genus of wildflowers when it comes to attracting and feeding bees and butterflies and many species of beneficial insects. These insects prey on injurious insects like aphids, spider mites and other garden pests. They are wonderful companion plants to pair up with Lavender,Penstemon, and smaller growing ornamental native grasses like ‘Blonde Ambition’. These are plants that appreciate ‘Poncha Pass Red’s’ love of full sun and “lean”, well drained soils. Eriogonum umbellatum ‘Poncha Pass Red’ (Poncha Pass Red Sulfur Buckwheat) is a plant that is hardy for zones 3 through 7.
Shop All Buckwheat Plants From High Country Gardens
Arrowleaf Buckwheat (Eriogonum compositum) is a lovely Sulphur Buckwheat with large, showy clusters of creamy white or light yellow flowers and low-growing rosette of large heart-shaped leaves. Beautiful late spring blooms add playful texture to the garden. Native to the dry areas of the Pacific Northwest, this buckwheat is an essential habitat plant for butterflies, beneficial insects, and wildlife.
A showy display of bright yellow flower clusters in late summer to early fall distinguishes Giant Sulphur Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum) from all others. This durable, drought tolerant shrub is especially valuable as a late season nectar source for bees and butterflies. Native to the Great Basin of the western US, this very xeric and long-lived Buckwheat can thrive for decades in your landscape.
Huge, flat-topped flower clusters create a dome of bright yellow color over the large attractive gray-green leaves of 'Little Rascal' Buckwheat (Eriogonum allenii). Blooming throughout the summer and into fall, it is highly attractive to butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. This low-care buckwheat is more moisture tolerant than most and can be grown across much of the US when planted in full sun and well drained soils.
Kannah Creek Buckwheat hails from western Colorado. With a showy display of yellow flowers in late spring, the flowers age to shades of orange and rust by late summer, providing months of low care color. A 2007 Plant Select winner. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).