On Gardening: Augusta Lavender heliotrope sweeping awards across the country


Six months ago, The Garden Guy prognosticated that Augusta Lavender heliotrope was going to one of the hottest plants for 2022. This was really based on my trials at my house outside of Columbus, Georgia.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Augusta Lavender was sweeping awards across the country, in places like the University of Georgia, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Oregon State, Colorado State, Oklahoma State and Cornell. This is like a who’s who of plant awards.

You would have been hard-pressed to find gardeners anywhere that believed there was a heliotrope that could hang all summer with Luscious Marmalade lantana. Well, the Luscious Marmalade has turned to toast, as expected with temperatures in the low ’20s.

The heliotrope, which has a chance of being perennial in zone 9a, is still blooming after all those freezes. I decided I better go out and touch it to make sure it wasn’t frozen ice. Indeed, it is still growing and blooming. I admit I am stunned after most of us expected the death certificate in August.

Augusta Lavender is like none you have ever tried. I’ll happily go with the name lavender, but to be honest, blue or sky blue would have worked too. But this isn’t the only color you will see. Each little floret has a center that is orange to deep yellow. You’ve got your own complementary color scheme in each flower. The flowers have gotten more intense in color with the cooler temperatures of fall.

There is a good chance you aren’t familiar with heliotropes. Botanically speaking, they are in the borage or forget-me-not family. If you looked at the long list of genera or family members, I doubt all but the ardent botanist could recognize more than five. But don’t let that throw you. I assure you this will be a wonderful new plant for your pollinator arsenal.

If visiting pollinators don’t float your boat, then just look at it as a great lavender plant that reaches 24 inches tall with a 36-inch spread. It kind of looks like a lantana. And it’s tough as nails, so you can go golf while nerds like me are shooting photos of butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

I also planted Augusta Lavender with Color Coded Orange You Awesome echinacea and Vermillionaire cuphea. You can see how I was seeing the blue hues in the lavender. I could not have picked better combos.

Augusta Lavender heliotrope, a hybrid with South American DNA, has been everything I could have wanted. After reading an industry article on Augusta Lavender, I can tell you the breeders were masterful. You can bet I’ll keep watching, and if indeed if it dies, you can bet I’ll be replanting in the spring. Everyone needs Augusta Lavender.


(Norman Winter, horticulturist, garden speaker and author of “Tough-as-Nails Flowers for the South” and “Captivating Combinations: Color and Style in the Garden.” Follow him on Facebook @NormanWinterTheGardenGuy.)

(NOTE TO EDITORS: Norman Winter receives complimentary plants to review from the companies he covers.)

©2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

This story was originally published January 27, 2022 4:00 AM.

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