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Buy plants for butterflies, hummingbirds

Friends of Manito volunteer Linda Martin waters plants slated for Saturday’s spring plant sale. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)
Friends of Manito volunteer Linda Martin waters plants slated for Saturday’s spring plant sale. (Susan Mulvihill / The Spokesman-Review)

Every year, gardeners eagerly anticipate the Friends of Manito plant sales because they know they will find exceptional plants that are hardy for this region. The spring plant sale will be held on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., just east of Manito Park’s Gaiser Conservatory.

One of my gardening goals is to attract more butterflies. While perusing their online plant list, I was excited to see many will do just that.

For starters, there will be three milkweeds available at the sale. While that common name might put you off, these are definitely the type of “weeds” you want in your garden.

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), swamp milkweed Soulmate (A. incarnata) and whorled milkweed (A. verticillata) are all host plants for the endangered monarch butterfly. They lay their eggs on milkweeds, which later feed the caterpillars. Each of the above plants are hardy to zone 3 and prefer full sun.

There will be a large selection of nectar-producing plants, many of which will also bring in other pollinators and hummingbirds:

Many wonderful cultivars of coneflowers (Echinacea) – including Aloha, Big Kahuna, Leilani, Kismet Raspberry and Mama Mia – are drought-tolerant and deer-resistant as well. They range in height from 18 to 40 inches, are hardy to zone 4 and prefer full sun.

Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpurea Atropurpureum), also known as mist flower, are hardy to zone 4, grow up to 6 feet tall and have striking mauve-colored flower heads. Eupatorium rugosum Chocolate has bronzy-purple leaves, purple stems, and puffy white flower clusters. Featuring a more mounded growth habit, they’ll grow 3 to 4 feet tall and are hardy to zone 3. Both favor full sun but will tolerate some shade.

Bee balm (Monarda) is another delightful perennial that attracts both butterflies and hummingbirds. Jacob Cline, Purple Rooster, Blue Moon and Grape Gumball range from 2 to 3 feet in height and some are mildew-resistant. Hardy to zone 4, they’ll grow in part to full sun.

Beardtongue (Penstemon) Dark Towers would be a nice addition to the garden because it is very hardy and features burgundy foliage and pink flowers. Plants grow up to 3 feet tall. Dwarf hairy beardtongue (P. hirsutus var. pygmaeus) is native to eastern North America, is more petite at 1 foot tall and has pink flowers. Both attract hummingbirds and are deer-resistant.

Plant sales manager Janis Saiki has designed five pre-planned gardens for TFM’s popular “Garden in a Box” packages. Plant collections include xeric, dry shade, deer-resistant/cold-hardy, “a child’s garden delight” and, of course, a pollinator garden.

“For it, I chose plants for nonstop blooming throughout the season,” Saiki said. “The boxes can be ordered in advance and picked up during the sale, or purchased during the sale.”

“Personal Potters” will be available to pot up plants or help customers plant their own hypertufa fairy gardens.

In the “Clash of the Containers,” contestants will compete to plant the most beautiful containers.

TFM members receive a 10 percent discount on their plant purchases. New members can join during the sale and receive the discount as well. All proceeds from the sale will benefit Manito Park.

Susan Mulvihill is co-author of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook” with Pat Munts. Contact her at Susan@susansinthegarden.com. Watch this week’s “Everyone Can Grow A Garden” video on her YouTube channel, youtube.com/c/susansinthegarden.


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