Tag Archive for: asheville perennials

4 of Our Least Favorite Perennials in Asheville (2023)


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1. Stachys byzantina (Lambs Ear.) Admittedly, Lambs ear has some appeal. It’s easy to grow, spreads fast, and takes any soil or full sun slope you throw at it. If only it looked as good in the landscape as it does in a pot at the nursery. It tends to flower and rot up if we get a lot of moisture, leaving you with a patch of rotting foliage with lackluster flowers jutting out of it. The spreading factor can also be a double-edged sword, with it popping up in areas you don’t want it to. If you need groundcover there are better options, and if you want flowers there are much better options.asheville perennials, asheville flowers, wnc perennial flowers, wnc native flowers

2. Helenium  (sneezeweed). This flower may be a case of user error because it doesn’t seem to do well for us in pots. It’s been a frustrating plant to grow, with blooms that aren’t bad but are outshone by other species like echinacea or aster.

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3. Solidago (goldenrod). If you like goldenrod the best thing to do is probably to ask a neighbor with a pasture to dig some up. This stuff is everywhere. Lanky, scraggly, and all over the place in Western North Carolina. It’s easy to grow, we’ll give it that.

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4. Eutrochium fistulosum (Joe Pye Weed.) This might be the most controversial native Asheville perennial on this list. It has a lot of fans and is a decent draw for pollinators like butterflies. We find it leggy and blah as a flower, and even a bit underwhelming for us in the pollinator category. We had it in a patch next to some Agastache and the Agastache won hands down for the bees. To attract butterflies we much prefer milkweed, gaura, or butterfly bushes.


So there you have it, four of our least favorite Asheville perennials for the 2023 season. With a few exceptions, we find it best to avoid plants with the word weed in their name, they tend to get that for a reason. Do you disagree or have a cultivar to recommend? Drop it in the comments or let us know in an email. We’d love to change our minds!

Gaura: A Butterfly Magnet in Western North Carolina

Perennials for butterflies in WNC, Asheville perennials, WNC perennials

Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’

Gaura, also known as wandflower, is a genus of North American native flowering plants that are a true delight for both gardeners and pollinators. These elegant perennials boast airy, graceful blooms that flutter in the breeze, making an easy landing pad for butterflies all summer long.

At Flat Creek Plant Farm, we have been a little late to the party in growing this wonderful flower, but it has rapidly become one of our favorites over the last couple of seasons.  Not only is it easy to grow, but if you deadhead the spent blooms they will give you a repeat show in the late summer.

Why Butterflies Love Gaura

Butterflies are drawn to gaura’s abundance of nectar-rich flowers, which provide them with a vital source of energy. The long, slender flower spikes offer easy access for butterflies to reach the nectar. Additionally, the open flower structure allows butterflies to land comfortably while feeding.

Gaura Varieties for Every Garden

Several gaura varieties cater to different garden styles and preferences. Some popular choices include:

  • Gaura lindheimeri: This classic variety features tall, airy stems adorned with white or pink flowers that bloom from early summer to fall.
  • Gaura sinuata: This compact variety offers a shorter stature and a wider range of flower colors, including white, pink, red, and yellow.
  • Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’: This aptly named variety boasts a profusion of delicate white to pink flowers that dance in the wind, often 2-3′ tall.  This classic variety is our favorite so far, though we are excited to try some new varieties this year.

Planting and Caring for Gaura

Gaura thrives in full sun and well-drained soil. They are relatively low-maintenance and drought-tolerant, making them an excellent choice for busy gardeners. Here are some tips for planting and caring for gaura:

  • Choose a sunny location with well-drained soil.  In heavy clay like most of us have in Western North Carolina, it’s best to break up the soil well and add some soil conditioner to encourage drainage.  They aren’t that fussy and take our good ole clay fairly well though.
  • Mulch around the plant with a good shredded bark.
  • Water regularly during the first year after planting, then reduce watering once established.  They can be thirsty when in bloom, but with a good mulch don’t need much more than once a week in dense clay soil.
  • Deadhead spent flowers at least once during the season to encourage continuous blooming.
  • Divide plants every few years.

Benefits of Gaura Beyond Butterflies

While attracting butterflies is a major draw, Gaura offers several other benefits for your garden:

  • Long blooming season: Gaura provides months of continuous blooms, adding color and texture to your garden throughout the summer and fall.
  • Low maintenance: These plants require minimal care, making them ideal for busy gardeners.
  • Drought tolerance: Gaura thrives in dry conditions, making them a good choice for water-wise gardens.
  • Versatility: Gaura can be used in various garden settings, including borders, mixed beds, containers, and meadows.

Gaura: A Flutter of Beauty and Movement

Gaura is more than just a pretty flower; it’s an invitation to bring a flutter of beauty and movement to your garden. By planting these charming perennials, you can create a haven for butterflies and add a touch of elegance and grace to your outdoor space. We find that they are fantastic in the middle to back of the border and mix well with other light, airy plants like verbena bonariensis or muhlenbergia. It’s a fun plant to mix in even when you think you don’t have room.

I hope this article has inspired you to add gaura to your garden. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!