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Becca Dickstein: Shrub’s colors brighten gardens

Pavonia (Pavonia lasiopetala) is an excellent choice for North Texas landscaping as it survives our summer heat. Its many brilliant pink-rose flowers add color to dry summer gardens and it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Consider using pavonia in place of non-native nandina and dwarf Burford or Chinese hollies.

It is nice in a garden mixed with other Texas natives like deep red winecup (Callirhoe involucrata), mealy blue sage (Salvia farinacea) or yellow Berlandier’s sundrops (Calylophus berlandieri) with contrasting bloom colors.

Pavonia is native to South, Central and West Texas. It is a small perennial shrub growing 1.5 to 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide, with a woody base.

It is considered deciduous but may be semi-evergreen during a mild winter. Its leaves are light green, up to 2.5 inches long and velvety to the touch. It may be short lived (3 to 6 years) but it self-sows readily.

From April through November, pavonia has five-petaled, rose-colored, hibiscus-like flowers, with a yellow column bearing the pistils and stamens.

The flowers are usually 1.5 inches wide.

Pavonia’s 5-lobed seed capsules are also attractive.

The seeds may be collected when the capsule divides into separate units, indicating that the seeds are mature.

Pavonia thrives in full sun and partial shade, doing well under deciduous trees where it can have full sun in the winter and some shade during the summer.

Pavonia is adapted for most soil types, but should have good drainage. It will not tolerate “wet feet.”

Like many Texas natives, it may need supplemental water during its first growing season. After it is established, it should survive with existing rainfall.

Look for the NICE! (Natives Instead of Common Exotics!) Plant of the Season signs and information sheets on your next visit to a participating North Texas nursery.

Participating businesses include Four Seasons Nursery, Meador Nursery and Painted Flower Farm, all in Denton; Schmitz Garden Center in Flower Mound and Shades of Green Nursery in Frisco.

Thank you for using native plants in your landscapes.

BECCA DICKSTEIN, a member of the Trinity Forks Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas, is on the University of North Texas biological sciences faculty.