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Photography by Linda Peters

In our Editorial Test Garden in Menlo Park, we're constantly growing out unusual varieties of plants to see if they work well in Western gardens and with current lifestyles (low water and easy care is the name of the game!).  Every once and a while, one comes along that's just too good not to share.

Have you all heard of Floss Flower (Ageratum houstonianum)?  This low-water stunner has been blooming for weeks and sends up the fuzziest little lavender flower poofs we've ever seen. Annie's Annuals calls the blooms "pettable" and we couldn't agree more.

Photography by Linda Peters

Native to Central American, Ageratum grows in mounds and forms medium green heart-shaped leaves, topped with a carpet of blooms from late spring through fall. Easy to grow in containers or garden beds, the plant takes almost no care other than dead-heading. Once established, we've found that it only takes occasional water to achieve this look lush. The variety pictured is 'Blue Horizon', which has iridescent purple flowers that nearly glow in the garden. Bees and butterflies love the blooms. It grows about 3 feet tall, with stems long enough to cut for bouquets. Look for dwarf varieties such as 'Blue Blazer', 'Blue Puffs', and 'Royal Delft' to plant along garden borders.

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