Photo courtesy of Plant Select

I have a soft spot for anything that grows from benign neglect – yes, I’m that kind of gardener. Couple that with something I don’t have to water very much, and I’m sold. Echium amoenum, or red feathers, fits the bill.

With spikes of feathery, russet-red flowers in spring, it resembles liatris. Red feathers flowers from May until frost (with some deadheading – well, that may or may not get done in my landscape), and Heritage Perennials reports that flowers mature to lighter shades of pink and purple. The lance-shaped foliage is dark green and forms a nice, compact clump, which works great for filling in holes in the garden, says Gold Rush Nursery.

Red feathers is attractive to butterflies, hummingbirds and bees, and deer don’t tend to bother it.

It’s native to the Caucasus Mountains in northern Iran where, according to Gold Rush Nursery, it’s called gol gavzaban, which means “cow-tongue flower” because the leaves’ stubbly texture is like the feel of a cow’s tongue. Anyone care to confirm that? Despite my Texas upbringing, I’ve never been that close to a cow.

Red feathers was a 2010 introduction by Plant Select, a collaborative program between the University of Colorado and the Denver Botanic Garden.

Why grow Echium amoenum?

  • Drought resistant, once established
  • Attracts pollinators
  • Long flowering time, if deadheaded
  • Deer resistant

Sources: Plant Select, Gold Rush Nursery, Heritage Perennials