As promised, here's the post about the plants we bought last weekend at the USF Butterfly, Herb, and Native Plant Sale. We really enjoyed this sale, because the plant vendors there were focused on exactly the types of plants we want for My Florida Backyard. It's also not nearly as crowded as the Fall and Spring sales, although it was very hot.
We seemed to do well with sages at this sale, as they are both an herb and a great butterfly attractor. We picked up a beautiful Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans) and 3 Mexican Sages (Salvia leucantha) for just $1 each. Though neither are native, they're certainly Florida-Friendly and draw butterflies like crazy. At the same vendor, we bought a rather ambiguously labeled "Meadow Sage", shown below. This plant did not have a scientific name listed, but we couldn't resist the delicate purple blooms (plus, it was also only $1!). If anyone knows specifically what this plant might be, please do let us know.
At another vendor, we were drawn to this Verbena bonariensis by the Giant Swallowtail stopping to take a sip. You can't go wrong when you let the butterflies lead you to new plants for the butterfly garden! This plant, sometimes called Tall Verbena or Purpletop Verbena, is not native, but has naturalized here in Florida. It's a drought-tolerant perennial that re-seeds readily, so we look forward to having more of these in years to come.
That same vendor also had some wonderful Cat's Whiskers (Orthosiphon stamineus), which we've been told are very attractive to hummingbirds. This plant is native to Asia, and may die back in a frost. We decided to take the risk, as hummingbirds are rare visitors to My Florida Backyard and we'd really like to draw them in. This plant seems to need quite a lot of water, which is something we generally try to avoid, but we're going to give it a try and see how it goes.
As for Florida natives, the only one we picked up at this sale was a Dotted Horsemint (Monarda punctata). This native bee balm is another great butterfly attractor when in bloom. It has been very droopy in the hot afternoons since we planted it, but it's supposed to be fairly drought-tolerant once established. We'll post some pictures of the neat flowers once they start to appear.
All in all, it was a pretty successful trip. The USF Botanical Gardens themselves are lovely to visit in all seasons, so if you're in the Tampa area, you may want to check them out.