by Connie Oswald Stofko
The moonflower (Oenothera acaulis, also known as a mountain dandelion) is an amazing plant. The light yellow flowers open in the evening, and they open so fast you can watch it happen in real time.
“They open before your very eyes like time-lapse photography,” said Mark Yadon, vice president at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses. “They spin open— they open that fast.” I don’t have a photo, but you can see a video here.
Yadon said some people place bets on how many flowers will open on a given evening. Once the flower is open, it stays open until it falls off, but the plant is constantly putting out new flowers all summer, he said.
This is the first year that the moonflower will be offered at the 49-cent perennial sale to be held Friday, April 24 to Sunday, May 3 at Mischler’s Florist and Greenhouses, 118 South Forest Rd., Williamsville.
Sale hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Plants are sold only in packs of four plants at $1.96 per pack or $23.52 per flat (12 packs per flat).
More than 75 varieties of plants will be offered in the sale. You’ll find ground covers and plants for shade or partial shade, as well as plants that are deer resistant, are drought resistant, attract butterflies or hummingbirds or are long blooming.
Download a list of the plants here.
Here are a few more plants that are new to the sale this year.
Scabiosa ‘Baby Blue’
Scabiosa ‘Baby Blue’ is also known as the pincushion flower because the flowers are rounded and look like an old-fashioned pincushion.
“This is a nice, long-blooming perennial,” Yadon said.
It attracts birds and butterflies.
Foxglove or Digitalis ‘Dalmatian Peach’
‘Dalmatian Peach’ is a foxglove that blooms the first year. That’s not normal, Yadon explained, because, although it’s included in the perennial sale, foxglove is a biennial. With biennials, you plant a seed and get a plant in the first year. In the second year, the plant comes back, it gets a flower, the flower goes to seed and the plant dies. Then the cycle starts all over again.
The ‘Dalmatian Peach’ gets a flower in the first year and in the second year, too, then the plant dies. It can come back from seed, he noted, but make sure you’re not using Preen or other compounds that keep seeds from germinating, and make sure you don’t mistakenly weed it out.
If you don’t have luck getting foxglove to come back from seed, the perennial sale is a good opportunity to replace these plants inexpensively.
Sometimes you need to replace perennials, too. While some perennials may spread nicely and keep coming back year after year, Yadon notes that some perennials, such as delphinium and lupine, are short lived. They last only two or three years.
“People think ‘perennial’ means ‘lives forever,’ Yadon said. “It doesn’t.”
So if your delphinium or lupine disappeared after a couple years, don’t blame the rabbits and don’t blame yourself. Just buy inexpensive replacements at the perennial sale.
Astilbe ‘Grande’ and ‘Bella’
It’s difficult to find showy flowering perennials for shade or partial shade, and that’s why so many people like astilbe. Even when it’s not blooming, it has attractive foliage, Yadon noted.
Astilbe are somewhat deer resistant and do attract butterflies.
‘Grande’ is taller, getting two to three feet high. ‘Bella’ grows about 20 inches tall.
Yarrow Achiella ‘Charise Queen’
If you want a flower that’s dependably hardy, check out the yarrow Achiella ‘Charise Queen’.
Yadon ticked off its attributes: It’s deer resistant, long-blooming, drought resistant, attract butterflies, makes good cut flowers. Best of all, it’s hard to kill.
Note: An earlier version of this article had an incorrect starting date for the sale. The sale does start on Friday, April 24.