Singing the praises of a lamium that doesn't spread
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Native to the woodlands of Central Europe, Italy, Hungary, and the Balkans, the plant's flowers bloom for me from early May through mid-June. The blossoms appear in whorls around the tiered leaf axils, and the greenish bracts the blossoms leave behind are attractively spiky, giving rise to yet another season of interest.Skip to next paragraph
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Though L. orvala prefers a lightly shaded spot in humus-rich, moisture-retentive soil, where it has protection from strong, harsh winds, it is an amazingly adaptable plant, tolerating both dry conditions and, for brief periods of time, some standing water.
Hardy in USDA Zones 4-8, it is somewhat of a slow growing, incredible clump-former, which, under ideal conditions, can reach a height of 26 to 30 inches with a width to match. And the good-natured plant does not exhibit any of the rambunctious characteristics of its relatives.
Butterflies are attracted to the blossoms, but fortunately, it’s not particularly attractive to deer, which tend to leave it alone in favor of tastier treats.
This non-spreading perennial is also available in a white flowered form, L. orvala ‘Alba’. I’ve noticed some plants of ‘Alba’ are more cream-colored than white or have pink tinges, but my singular addition sports pristine white blossoms. Another sibling, L. orvala ‘Silva’, shows a light silver stripe down the center of its leaf. Both are incredibly hard to find, which in my opinion, makes us all the poorer.
Next up, the remainder of my current heartthrobs.
Betty Earl, author of “In Search of Great Plants: The Insider’s Guide to the Best Plants in the Midwest,” is one of eight garden writers who blogs regularly at Diggin' It. She also writes a regular column for Chicagoland Gardening Magazine and The Kankakee Journal and numerous articles for Small Gardens Magazine, American Nurseryman, Nature’s Garden, and Midwest Living Magazine, as well as other national magazines. She is a garden scout for Better Homes and Gardens and a regional representative for The Garden Conservancy.
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