Want a plant that blooms in late spring and early summer that isn’t ordinarily seen in most flower beds or landscapes? Try a “Flowering fern” as an attention getter!
If you categorize flowering ferns with pigs flying, you’re in the right direction as ferns don’t “flower” in the traditional sense. However, if someone described the foliage as “fern-like”, that would be accurate.
Intrigued? I was on first hearing of the plant, especially as the person describing it created a delightful picture in my mind. A little reading in books and online sites revealed the truth; it IS attractive; a perennial in the Bignoniaceae family that may offer a bit of challenge for gardeners in the southeast with our hot/humid summers.
Also known as Hardy gloxinia, Incarvillea delavayi is native to Asia, with large, trumpet-shaped rosy purple flowers on 12-24” stalks, and described by some as pleasantly fragrant. Attractive to bees, butterflies and birds, it is suitable for containers or borders and beds. While needing sun, Hardy gloxinia will appreciate light shade during our summer afternoons.
Introduced to Europe in the mid-1800s by two Jesuit missionaries, the plant known as Chinese Trumpet flower was popular in English gardens for many years before falling out of favor with gardeners.
For 21st century gardens, additional blooms can be encouraged by deadheading after the first flush, offering an opportunity for more passersby to stop and inquire about that unusual “flowering fern!”
By Sallie Lee, Urban Regional Extension Agent, Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Contact Sallie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) operates as the primary outreach organization for the land-grant functions of Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities. ACES is committed to affirmative action, equal opportunity and the diversity of its workforce. Educational programs of ACES serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or national origin.