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The Best Plant You’ve Never Heard Of


Ask many skilled gardeners to name their favorite plant, and what do they reply? “The one that’s in bloom right now.”

Not what the interviewer wanted to hear, probably, but true nonetheless.

That comment came to mind this morning as I was rummaging about in my garden, pulling out the inch-long blades of crabgrass that are starting to raise their annoying heads. And the plant that caught my attention and filled me with admiration? Mazus reptans, a quarter-inch high ground cover that’s one of the plants in the Steppables line. It makes a solid mat of little green leaves, blooms with tiny purple-blue flowers that suggest miniature orchids, and it looks really great next to a cluster of lime green lemon thyme at the front of my border. It would grow nicely between stepping stones as well.

Photo courtesy of Courtesy Missouri Botanical Garden

I bought my plant at Anton’s Greenhouse in Evanston last year and was impressed with how it took off after it went in the ground. Not invasive but sturdy growth. It overwintered just fine and now it’s in its second season. The Missouri Botanic Garden, which reports no serious insect or disease problems, says it can grow 2 inches high, but I have yet to see that.

This is a terrific little plant and well worth seeking out. Looking for something new to grow? This is it.

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questions

My lilac had a grayish blight on the leaves this summer. What caused this and how can I prevent it?

I have twelve beautiful blooming violet plants on my office desk, placed 12 inches from a light source that’s kept burning day and night. I water them from the bottom and let the water remain in the saucer.

No matter what I spray, I continue to have gnats and other insects in my soil. I also occasionally start to get yellow spots on the tips of the leaves and then the spots start going down the leaves. What’s going on here?

Would it help to apply a starter fertilizer on a poor green lawn in December? Will it give it a head start for spring? It hasn’t been reseeded.

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