Spring is on its way, and already the chartreuse leaves of Gregg’s Mistflower (Conoclinium greggii) are poking through the winter debris.
In time, the mistflower will bloom into lavender-colored clusters, and it will become one of the strongest butterfly and bee magnets in my garden.
For a wildlife garden in the southwest, particularly Texas and Arizona, Gregg’s Mistflower is a must-have plant. It reaches heights of 2-3 feet tall and loves the heat, tolerating both sun and part shade. And luckily for me, it likes my plentiful clay soil, but it also does well in sand, loam, and gravel.
Bees love Gregg’s Mistflower, including both natives and honeybees. Butterflies such as Skippers, Sulphurs, Monarchs, and others are regular visitors, too. The mistflower even serves as a caterpillar host plant for the Rawson’s Metalmark butterfly. But here in Austin, the pollinator we associate the most with this lovely plant is the Queen butterfly.
Depending on the size of the patch, you’ll see dozens to hundreds of these monarch-similar butterflies flitting and dancing about the purple-blue blossoms.
A great characteristic of Gregg’s Mistflower is its willingness to spread by seed and roots, but not aggressively so. I haven’t had to plant any new mistflower in a couple of years — it naturally fills the bed at last, though now I realize that I should start a few patches in other areas, too.
And one of the best things about Gregg’s Mistflower is that it blooms from March to November, which means I’ve got a busy wildscape for much of the year. Its peak is in the fall, though — just in time for Queen and Monarch migration!
Meredith O’Reilly gardens for wildlife in Austin, Texas, and writes about her garden adventures at Great Stems.
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