by David Salman

Eriogonum umbellatum.

The Eriogonum (pronounced eri-ög- ōnum) are a wonderfully beautiful and useful group of plants. Commonly known as the Sulfur Buckwheats, I have come to really rely on them to provide my gardens with long-lasting color, structure and provide nectar and pollen for bees, butterflies and beneficial insects. My initial encounters with the genus many years ago has fostered an ever-growing appreciation for this large native genus that expresses their greatest variety of forms in the western US, with Utah representing the epicenter of Eriogonum diversity.

Lavandula angustifolia Vera Eriogonum umbellatum Proliferum
Vera English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia Vera) with Prolific Sulpher Buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum Proliferum)

As a hobbyist rock gardener, I’m thrilled to acquire an ever-growing collection of these miniature shrubs.

Penstemon w. Eriogonum umbellatum 'Shasta Sulfur'
Penstemon with Eriogonum umbellatum 'Shasta Sulfur,'

As a xeric gardener and perennial enthusiast, the Sulfur Buckwheats are the perfect companion for other favorite plants like Lavender (Lavandula), beardtongues (Penstemon), cacti, succulents (like Agave, Yucca and Hesperaloe) and even South African beauties like Red Hot Poker (Kniphofia). The larger growing varieties are wonderful companions for miniature and dwarf conifers (small growing pines, spruces, fir) that add a wonderful splashes of color to conifer plantings. Yes, they are incredibly versatile.

Most are evergreen or semi-evergreen shrubs that have attractive foliage that is usually fuzzy, spoon-shaped, often gray or gray-green foliage. They are long-lived, getting more beautiful with each passing year. They are also easy-to-grow happiest when rooted into “lean” (infertile), well-drained soil in sunny, hot conditions.

Eriogonum umbellatum Kanah Creek Eriogonum umbellatum 'Kanah Creek.'

Some of my recommended species and selections include E. umbellatum v. aureum ‘Kanah Creek’ a large, extremely floriferous yellow flowered variety originally found growing in western Colorado. Its flowers also age from yellow to shades of rusty-orange and orange-red. I’m also excitedly working on some new varieties for release in 2011. Eriogonum corymbosum ‘Yellow’ is a stupendous, ever-blooming yellow flowered variant of a species with normally cream-colored flowers. Native a limited area in central Utah, this desert native adapts easily to irrigated gardens in a variety of soil types.

So get some of these beauties into your gardens and stay tuned as there is much yet to come from this fabulous genus.

  1. New Snow Pearly Everlasting, Anaphalis margaritacea New Snow, Small white flowers on tall upright stems

    New Snow Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) has attractive silver-gray wooly foliage and clusters of tiny white flowers held on top of tall, upright stems. This native plant...

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    New Snow Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis) New Snow Pearly Everlasting Anaphalis margaritacea New Snow
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $10.99 Sale $9.89
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    New Snow Pearly Everlasting (Anaphalis margaritacea) has attractive silver-gray wooly foliage and clusters of tiny white flowers held on top of tall, upright stems. This native plant is highly attractive to butterflies. Resilient and easy to grow, it’s excellent for use in meadows and perennial pollinator-friendly gardens with dry, poor soil. Drought tolerant.
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  2. Hymenoxys hoopesii, Owl's Claws, Orange Sneezeweed, close up of  huge golden-yellow flowers

    Owl's Claw (Hymenoxys hoopesii) is a fabulous native mountain wildflower with huge golden-yellow flowers in summer. With its long, downward curving golden-yellow flower petals and ce...

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    Owl's Claws (Hymenoxys) Owl's Claws, Orange Sneezeweed Hymenoxys hoopesii
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $9.99 Sale $8.99
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Owl's Claw (Hymenoxys hoopesii) is a fabulous native mountain wildflower with huge golden-yellow flowers in summer. With its long, downward curving golden-yellow flower petals and center cone, the graceful flowers are eye-catching. Highly attractive to many types of butterflies and bees, this durable perennial likes average to wet soil moisture and cool growing conditions, not for hot climates.
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  3. Purple Eupatorium dubium Baby Joe, Eupatorium dubium Baby Joe, Joe Pye Weed

    36-48" tall x 24-36" wide. ‘Baby Joe’ is a compact selection of the large growing Joe Pye weed. In late summer the plant blooms with flat topped heads of small, mauve-purple flow...

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    Baby Joe Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium) Baby Joe Joe Pye Weed Eupatorium dubium Baby Joe
    $12.99
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    36-48" tall x 24-36" wide. ‘Baby Joe’ is a compact selection of the large growing Joe Pye weed. In late summer the plant blooms with flat topped heads of small, mauve-purple flowers. The flowers are extremely attractive to butterflies and bees.
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  4. Northern Dragonhead,  Dracocephalum ruyschiana

    The periwinkle flowers of Northern Dragonhead (Dracocephalum ruyschiana) are just as fascinating to pollinators as they are to gardeners! Two-lipped tubular blooms resembling dragon ...

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    Northern Dragonhead Northern Dragonhead Dracocephalum ruyschiana
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $11.99 Sale $10.79
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    The periwinkle flowers of Northern Dragonhead (Dracocephalum ruyschiana) are just as fascinating to pollinators as they are to gardeners! Two-lipped tubular blooms resembling dragon heads appear in late spring, sure to attract butterflies and other beneficial insects. Narrow lance-shaped leaves are lightly aromatic. With a bushy and compact yet loose habit, this deer-resistant plant is an excellent choice for the front of garden borders, or trailing along walls in full sun locations.
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  5. Blue Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Hardy Plumbago

    Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is one of the most versatile groundcovers for cold climates growing in both sun and shade and most soil types. Plumbago blooms in late su...

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    Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma) Hardy Plumbago, Leadwort Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
    As low as $8.79 Sale $8.35
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    Hardy Plumbago (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is one of the most versatile groundcovers for cold climates growing in both sun and shade and most soil types. Plumbago blooms in late summer with deep blue flowers followed by the foliage that turns burgundy red in fall.
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  6. Star Frost Echinops frosty white circular blooms, Echinops 'Star Frost', Echinops bannaticus

    ‘Star Frost’ Echinops (Echinops bannaticus), also called Globe Thistle, is an eye-popping beauty in frosty white with spherical flowers on sturdy stems. Rising from thistle-like ...

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    Star Frost Echinops Star Frost Globe Thistle Echinops bannaticus Star Frost
    Sale Price I Save 10%
    $11.99 Sale $10.79
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    ‘Star Frost’ Echinops (Echinops bannaticus), also called Globe Thistle, is an eye-popping beauty in frosty white with spherical flowers on sturdy stems. Rising from thistle-like deep green leaves with silvery undersides, ‘Star Frost’ will bloom from mid-summer to early fall. Plant them in a sweep for dramatic effect. At 3-4 feet tall they are just right for a perennial bed, cutting garden, or pollinator garden - bees and butterflies love them too.
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  7. 'Prince's Plume' with bold yellow blooms in front of canyon, Stanleya Pinnata 'Prince's Plume'

    'Prince's Plume' (Stanleya pinnata) has striking presence in the open landscape, bearing bright yellow flower spikes over feathery silver foliage. A native of the North American West...

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    Prince's Plume Prince's Plume Stanleya pinnata
    $11.99
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    'Prince's Plume' (Stanleya pinnata) has striking presence in the open landscape, bearing bright yellow flower spikes over feathery silver foliage. A native of the North American West and Southwest, its hardy, long-lasting flowers that can last for weeks, or months in the right conditions, serving as a beacon for attracting pollinators. 'Prince's Plume' is a fascinating and deer-resistant addition to xeriscapes in arid, semi-desert conditions. (Stanleya pinnata)
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  8. Russian River Coyote Mint, Monardella villosa 'Russian River'

    Russian River Coyote Mint (Monardella villosa 'Russian River') is a superb native CA wildflower that blooms for several months in summer with showy ball-shaped pink-purple flowers. A...

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    Russian River Coyote Mint (Monardella) Russian River Coyote Mint Monardella villosa Russian River
    Sale Price I Save 5%
    $10.99 Sale $10.44
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Russian River Coyote Mint (Monardella villosa 'Russian River') is a superb native CA wildflower that blooms for several months in summer with showy ball-shaped pink-purple flowers. A small growing shrub that likes well drained soil in dry, full sun conditions, it has strongly fragrant evergreen foliage that repels browsing animals and attracts lots of bees and butterflies to its nectar-rich flowers.
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Text and Photos by Founder and Chief Horticulturist David Salman.

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