Primrose Flowers Have Played a Part in Pop Culture

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Evening primroses are a sunny addition to wildflower gardens.

These bright delights have cemented a place in literature and popular culture; Shakespeare included the primrose flower as a symbol in many of his plays. More recently, in Suzanne Collins’ 2008 young adult novel The Hunger Games, main character Katniss’ sister is named after the evening primrose.

Want more nature trivia? Check out these fun facts about birds in pop culture.

Multiple Types of Primrose Flowers

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Pink evening primrose

There are two types of unrelated flowers that are called primroses. One simply goes by the name primrose (Primula spp.) and the other is called evening primrose (Oenothera spp.).

Did you know that primroses are one of the birth flowers for February?

Primrose Flowers Come in Many Colors

primrose moth
Evening primrose flowers attract moths.

More than 400 species of primroses exist, appearing in many colors including red, pink, purple and gold. They’re a hardy flower, thriving in mountain ranges, marshes and other varied habitats.

Backyard Tip: Evening primrose reseeds and may spread aggressively in your garden. Consult your local extension agent before planting if you have concerns about it becoming invasive in your area.

Psst—planting a moon garden improves your chances of spotting a sphinx moth.

Does a Primrose Have Meaning?

Amethyst Ice primrose

Primrose means “first rose,” and it’s certainly accurate. Primroses are one of the first flowers to appear in many different environments, blooming in Zones 3 to 8 in early spring. If you’re looking for more early blooming spring flowers, check out our list.

English primrose plants are considered some of the best old-fashioned flowers to grow.

Primroses Have a Long Medicinal History

While Europeans grew evening primroses in the 17th century, the plant’s history starts long before then. Native Americans used the plant to heal wounds, serve as a sedative and even treat hemorrhoids.

Discover 20 mental and physical health benefits of gardening.

Primrose Flower Care

Primroses provide blooms for up to 10 weeks if deadheaded. They do well in cool temps with a fair amount of moisture. Place in a spot with afternoon shade to keep them looking their best.

Next, learn how to grow Lenten rose plants.

Climbing Rose Not Blooming

“Last year I planted a new hybrid tea climber. It grew vigorously but produced not one sign of a bud or flower. Can you tell me how it’s possible to have a healthy climber without blooms?” asks Beulah Maurer of Greenville, Ohio.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers: Like many hybrid tea and floribunda roses, hybrid tea climbers are grafted onto a hardy rootstock. If the graft union dies, the rootstock will take over and produce lush, often thornier growth with different flowers, or none at all. If this is not the problem, evaluate your pruning practices.

Most climbers bloom on old wood, so pruning needs to be limited and timed appropriately. Older or winter-killed stems should be removed in late winter or early spring, before growth begins. Do additional light pruning after the first flush of flowers fades.

How to grow roses: what you need to know.

Rose Bush Without Flowers

“Last spring my rose bushes were covered in sprouting leaves that didn’t produce flowers. Is it too late to prune when roses are not blooming?” asks Denise Martin of Justice, Illinois.

Melinda: Repeat-blooming roses are best pruned after the worst of winter weather has passed and before growth begins. Roses that only bloom once a year are typically pruned after the flowers fade. At this point, you may want to wait until the leaves are fully expanded to reduce the risk of damaging the canes during the pruning process.

Last year’s lack of blooming on your roses may indicate a problem unrelated to pruning, though. Many roses are grafted by placing a bud from the desirable rose onto a set of hardy roots. If this graft union (where the bud connects to the roots) fails from winter cold or another cause, the roots take over producing all the new growth.

The stems that sprout from the roots are often stouter and have more thorns. They may be covered with just leaves, or they may produce flowers that are different than those of the original plant.

Learn how to prepare and prune roses for winter.

Roses That Change Color

roses that change color
Red rose in bloom

“I salvaged the roots of a pink rambling rosebush that had been mowed down and neglected. I gave it lots of TLC for three years before planting it in the ground. Finally, three years later, it came back to life, flourished and the rose is now blooming red. Why is that?” asks Mary Wallace of Kell, Illinois.

Melinda: It sounds as if the graft died or was mowed off and the hardy rootstock took over. The desirable bud of hybrid tea and grandiflora roses were—and many still are—grafted onto a hardier rootstock. If cold weather, mowing or animals damage the graft, the desirable top of the plant dies and the rootstock takes over. I’m afraid your pink rose is gone. You can embrace the red rose or replace this plant with one you prefer.

Psst—roses love garlic: find out why.

“The yellow rosebush in my garden is producing velvety red flowers. How did this happen?” asks Carol Grajzar of Silver Creek, Georgia.

Melinda: Roses are often grafted onto the roots of a different variety to speed development and increase hardiness. If the graft dies, the desirable rose disappears and the hardier rootstock takes over producing its own flowers.

Backyard tip: If a rose graft dies, leaf color and shape or even flower color may change.

Learn how to treat black spot and rose rosette disease.

Easter Cactus Care

easter cactus
You’ve probably seen a Christmas cactus, but you can also grow an Easter cactus.

While some other types of cacti might bloom around Easter, they’re not technically an Easter cactus. That title goes to a different plant: Rhipsalidopsis gaertneri. With the common name “Easter cactus” or “spring cactus,” it thrives in cooler spring temperatures.

Easter cactus bears long-petaled pink, red, orange, white or purple flowers that open at sunrise and close in the evening. It likes bright, indirect light to grow its best, but won’t tolerate full sun. This drought-tolerant plant also requires loose soil so that its roots have access to air. Generally, this succulent doesn’t require much tending. Water it only when the soil is dry; water more often in the spring and summer than in fall and winter.

Interested in growing a succulent, but not sure how to start? Check out our guide to growing succulents—indoors and out.

Rhipsalidopsis or "Easter cactus"
You can grow this cactus indoors as a houseplant.

Things get a little more granular, though, when it comes to getting your Easter cactus to produce those gorgeous flowers. In order to bloom between the months of March and May, it needs to be kept at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

As a fun fact, Easter cactus shares similarities with two other well-known holiday plants: Thanksgiving cactus and Christmas cactus. While they’re not in the same family, they all do best in cooler weather—notice they’re associated with winter or spring holidays—and sport angular, vibrant blooms.

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Psst—check out pretty Easter flower arrangements we’re ordering this spring.

Rose Pincushion Cactus Care

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Spring blooming rose pincushion cactus

Birds & Blooms reader Elizabeth Ann Mingus shared this photo (above) of another cacti that blooms around Easter and asked for help to identify it.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers says, “This prickly beauty is a rose pincushion cactus that goes by the botanical name Mammillaria zeilmanniana. It is a prolific bloomer, as you’ve discovered, with pink to red or—occasionally—white flowers topping the plant. Like all cacti, it prefers full sun and well-draining soil. This particular cactus is only hardy in Zone 10 and milder climates. It can be overwintered indoors in colder regions or grown as a houseplant year-round.”

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Next, check out cute cactus gifts for cactus lovers.

Calendula vs Marigold: Similarities and Differences

calendula vs marigold
Marigolds (above) and pot marigolds are not the same plant.

Calendula flowers (Calendula officinalis) are commonly known as pot marigolds, which can lead to confusion at the garden center. Although their names are but one word off, those three letters belie a bevy of differences.

For one thing, these annual flowers differ vastly in appearance. Marigolds (Tagetes spp.) have shorter, compact petals and thinner leaves. Calendula flowers feature longer petals and rounder, wider leaves. Although both plants are part of the daisy family, calendulas look more like daisies.

Beautiful orange calendula officinalis on stem
Calendula flowers prefer cooler weather than marigolds.

For another thing, the flowers smell different. Marigolds have a powerful, sharp, and near-pungent aroma. As such, they are often used to ward off rabbits, deer, and other unwanted backyard critters. Calendula flowers, on the other hand, have a more commonplace, flowery smell.

Grow nasturtium flowers to keep bad bugs away.

Marigolds are a popular choice for warm-season annuals, blooming first in late spring and continuing on until the first frost of fall. Meanwhile, calendulas prefer cooler temperatures—they’ll wilt if the weather gets too steamy.

Truly, the two most significant similarities between marigolds and calendulas are their overlapping common names and their bloom colors. Both flowers come in sunny shades of orange, yellow and red, which can make them difficult to tell apart at a quick glance. Pair that with the common name confusion—“marigold” vs. “pot marigold”—and it’s not too tricky to understand the mix-ups.

Once you’re clear on the difference between calendula vs marigold, check out the differences between Chinese snowball bush vs hydrangea.

Marigold Care

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Sparky Mix marigold flowers

To plant marigolds, make sure you have a sufficient spot of full sun. They’re more than tolerant of sunshine and summer heat, and if they’re placed in the shade, they can succumb to powdery mildew. It’s also best to water marigolds at the base of the plant rather than from the top, since excess water on the leaves can cause powdery mildew as well. These fast-growing annual flowers are easy to start from a packet of seeds and they grow well in containers with well-draining potting soil.

Here’s how to solve the most common plant problems.

If you’re serious about keeping the flowers blooming, deadhead them when the blooms are spent to keep the plant’s energy focused on nurturing additional sunny blossoms.

Did you know marigolds are the October birth month flower?

Calendula Care

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Yellow calendula bloom

In complete contrast to marigolds, calendula plants, like violas and pansies, prefer the cooler temperatures of spring and early fall. They don’t handle sizzling summer temperatures well, but regardless, they do grow and flower best in full sun. These plants should not be overwatered, as the roots may rot in wet soils.

Another key difference—calendula flowers are edible! Some gardeners use pot marigold petals to add color to salads, or even to make natural dyes.

For more gardening tips, sign up for our free newsletter.

Giant Leopard Moth Range

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A mystery moth visited a reader’s backyard.

“What kind of moth is this?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Linda Peevey.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “This strikingly patterned creature is a giant leopard moth (Hypercompe scribonia). A member of the tiger moth group, it’s widespread from the eastern United States (and a little of southeastern Canada) south through Mexico and Central America to northwestern South America. However, it seems to be uncommon everywhere in its range, so it’s always a treat to see one. Giant leopard larvae, which are spiny with black-and-orange markings, feed on the leaves of a wide variety of plants.”

Learn all about garden moths and find out why they are important pollinators.

Another reader captured a striking moth photo when one visited her garden.

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Look for the unique black and white pattern on the wings

“I was just working in my flower beds when I saw this most unusual moth (above), so I snapped this shot. I loved the black and white markings of the moth against the red geranium!” says Birds & Blooms reader Virginia Ostervik.

What’s the difference between a moth vs a butterfly?

What Does a Giant Leopard Moth Look Like?

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Giant leopard moth on a catnip plant

These delightful moths are usually pretty easy to identify. To tell whether you’re looking at one, look for the distinctive white wings with black-bordered or solidly black spots. When the moth spreads its wings, look for an abdomen that boasts striking colors, including shimmery blue and orange. The moth’s wingspan is approximately 3 inches, but lengths varying from 1 to 2 inches based on gender (females are smaller).

As with many butterflies and moths in North America, there’s a specific season to find them. When people spot giant leopard moths, they tend to do so between the months of May through September.

Meet 5 silk moths that might be in your backyard.

What Do the Caterpillars Look Like?

Giant Leopard Moth caterpillar on a tree branch.
Giant leopard moth caterpillar

The caterpillars eat a wide assortment of foods, including sunflowers, cherries, cabbages and violets. Giant leopard moth caterpillars overwinter in their final-stage larval form, and then form a cocoon in the spring.

Next, check out interesting hummingbird moth facts.

If you’ve ever noticed a mourning dove that looks different with white splotches or patches of all-white feathers, does that mean it’s an albino dove? Read on for expert advice to identify a white mourning dove and other uniquely colored backyard birds.

Leucistic bird vs albino bird: learn the difference.

White Mourning Dove: Albino or Leucistic?

A leucistic mourning dove
A leucistic mourning dove with white feathers

“An unusual dove (above) has frequented my feeder for two years. Can you identify it?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Marla Neiss of Navarre, Ohio.

This unique and lovely creature is not an albino mourning dove; it is a leucistic form of a mourning dove. Leucism is a reduction or lack of certain pigments in the plumage, and it can be expressed in various ways. Sometimes a bird has pure white feathers (all over or in patches), and sometimes the colors just seem diluted or paler than normal.

Learn how to identify a white-winged dove.

This individual dove seems to have both of those effects going on, leading to the pattern seen in your photo, with mostly white wings and pale fawn-brown body.

What does it mean if you see a mourning dove?

Is This an Albino Goldfinch?

A leucistic American goldfinch
A leucistic American goldfinch

“I tried a new goldfinch food made with thistle and other tiny seeds, and it attracted this beauty. Is it an albino goldfinch?” asks Sunde Sheckler of Sparta, Michigan.

Isn’t it fun to find one of our more familiar birds with odd-looking plumage? Your lovely visitor is indeed an American goldfinch, and something unusual is going on with the pigment in its feathers. It appears to have black in the normal areas of the wings and tail, and it still shows some of the yellow, but it’s white in many areas that normally would be buff or brown in winter. When a bird is lacking some of those pigments, it is said to be partly leucistic (pronouced loo-KIS-tick).

Are albino and leucistic robins rare?

Leucistic House Sparrow

A leucistic female house sparrow
A leucistic female house sparrow

“What kind of bird is this?” asks Kathleen Tincher of Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

A bird like this is genuinely confusing because you won’t find a picture of another individual that looks exactly like it. That’s because the bird is leucistic, which means that it lacks melanin pigments in some of its feathers. Some of the normal colors are replaced with white. If we ignore the extra white patches on the wings, throat and elsewhere, it has the shape, color and markings of a female house sparrow.

Next, don’t miss pictures of rare white hummingbirds.

Does this sound familiar? You wait all winter for your tulips and other flower bulbs to poke through the frozen soil, and when they do, deer munch them right back down to the ground before they even come close to blooming. So what’s a gardener to do? Some people try fences or deer repellents, but these don’t always work. Instead, try planting these deer-resistant bulbs, and fill your yard with blooms each spring!

Before you get started, make sure you read our ultimate guide to planting spring bulbs.

Allium flowers

Do Deer Eat Alliums?

These members of the onion family seem to be distasteful to deer and rabbits. The globe-shaped flower clusters are beautiful, and as an added bonus, they attract butterflies, too! Try Persian Blue allium for large purple-blue blooms.

Learn more about growing alliums.


Do Deer Eat Daffodils?

Daffodils are the king of deer-resistant bulbs. They contain an alkaloid called lycorine that is distasteful and even poisonous to deer, rabbits and other mammals. And if you think daffodils are all the same yellow blooms, you haven’t been keeping up! Daffodils come in an array of striking types and shades, from creams and oranges to peach and pink, with ruffled cups and even double blooms. Different varieties bloom at different times during the spring, so plant a mix of early, middle, and late-blooming bulbs to keep the season going.

Check out 10 of the best daffodil bulbs to plant in fall.


Do Deer Eat Hyacinths?

If you believe the best spring flowers are the fragrant ones, then hyacinths are the deer-resistant bulbs for you. Just one spike of these flowers is enough to fragrance a whole room, and they do well as cut flowers if brought in just as the flowers begin to open. This fragrant mix from Michigan Bulb Co. has a great variety of colors.

Follow these tips for growing grape hyacinth flowers and crocus flowers.

double snowdrops deer resistant bulbs

Do Deer Eat Snowdrops?

If you’re looking for the earliest possible blooms, snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii) are the way to go. These deer-resistant bulbs are the first to pop up, often before the snow is even gone. You’ll love these double snowdrops from Breck’s for their unusual green-and-white flowers.

Find out how to keep squirrels from digging up flower pots and bulbs.

spring starflower deer resistant bulbs

Do Deer Eat Spring Starflowers?

This cheerful little spring bloomer is closely-related to alliums and daffodils, so deer will leave it alone. Spring starflower (Ipheion uniflorum) isn’t planted as widely as other spring bulbs, but makes an excellent choice for an area you’d like to naturalize. The flowers are available in blue, white, and pink, or try this mix of all three colors from Breck’s.

Check out the top 10 bulbs to plant in fall that you aren’t growing yet.

Bnbbyc19 Ariel Wolford 1, pictures of tulips
Unfortunately, tulips are not deer resistant bulbs.

Do Deer Eat Tulips?

“How can I keep deer from eating tulips?” asks reader Amanda Jones of St. Louis, Missouri.

Horticultural expert Melinda Myers: Fencing is the most effective method for keeping deer away, but it’s not always the most practical option. Since wildlife has become accustomed to living near people and dining on our landscaping, scare tactics may or may not be effective. Many gardeners now rely on repellents to protect susceptible plants from wildlife damage.

Increase your success by treating plants before the animals start feeding. Check the label to make sure the repellent can be used on ornamental plants (including tulips) and is labeled to repel deer. Reapply according to the label directions for continued protection. A rain- and snow-resistant repellent provides longer-lasting protection, which means less work for you. Monitor your plants for damage and adjust treatments as needed.

Next learn how to deter groundhogs (and keep them out of your garden).

Zinnia Flowers: Care and Growing Tips

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Zinnia flowers are annuals that provide an explosion of garden color.

With heights from 6 inches to 3 feet, there’s a zinnia (Zinnia elegans) for every garden. They are a cheerful addition to any backyard. Use the smaller types as edging plants and larger varieties in the back of beds. Some zinnia flowers can even work as barriers or privacy screens.

Incredibly simple to grow, zinnias bloom quickly—going from seed to bloom in just two to three months. Tiny seedlings show up in mere days after direct sowing and watering, with long-lasting flowers appearing about six weeks later. With a few packets of zinnia seeds, you can create a summer-long parade of colors. All you need is a sunny spot to plant them. Zinnias also grow well in containers.

Flowers don’t get much more low-maintenance than zinnias. They need almost zero care during the growing season and can even thrive near black walnut trees. Just make sure you select disease-resistant varieties to avoid powdery mildew if the disease is a problem in your area. Newer zinnia cultivars, such as the Profusion series, are a perfect option for gardeners who have previously lost zinnias to powdery mildew.

“I bought some zinnia seed mix that you just spread on top of the ground and now I’ve got tons of blooms! This is only a small picture of all  the blooms (above). Bumblebees have all ready been pollinating them. I love zinnia flowers because they come in multiple colors and the butterflies and hummingbirds love them, too,” says Birds & Blooms reader Jamie Trouskie of Central Square, New York.

Are Zinnias Annuals or Perennials?

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Monarch butterfly on a pink zinnia

Native to Mexico, zinnias are annual flowers, not perennials, but they’ll keep blooming from summer through fall, until the first frost.

Check out the top 10 fast-growing annual flowers.

Pollinator Favorites

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Goldfinches love zinnia seeds.

Zinnia is a pollinator garden go-to for gardeners. Hummingbirds sip nectar from the central florets. This versatile plant also has seed heads that attract sparrows, finches and juncos later in the growing season. This annual also is bee-friendly, attracting honeybees, bumblebees and some solitary bees. Butterflies adore these flowers, too. Plant zinnias in drifts for a stunning effect.

“These colorful flowers attract lots of butterflies and hummingbirds in the summer months. Goldfinches also visit zinnias once they go to seed in fall,” says reader Linda Barnes of New London, Ohio.

Check out the top 10 annuals that attract hummingbirds.

Zinnia Colors

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Zinnias make excellent cut flowers for bouquets.

Like sunflowers, zinnias come in dozens of varieties. These cheerful bloomers are available in almost every color imaginable. With such a range of hues—red, yellow, orange, pink, lavender, white—you’ll never run out of ideas and combinations to try. If you’re planning a rainbow of flower colors and need green, choose Queen Lime, Envy or Tequila Lime.

Because of their vibrance, zinnias are bouquet favorites and ideal for your cutting garden. Just snip a handful of the blooms to create indoor arrangements for your kitchen counter.

Next, learn how to grow cosmos flowers and sweet alyssum.

Why You Should Grow Angelonia Plants

Angelonia flowers are a great choice for beginning gardeners.

Some plants have big flashy flowers, drawing you in from yards away to admire their in-your-face beauty. Others enchant with small intricate flowers, designed to attract small pollinators like bees with a variety of clever tricks. Angelonia, also known as summer snapdragon, is a great example of the latter. This easy-to-grow annual is well-worth adding to your flower gardens or containers.

Annuals vs. perennials — what is the difference?

Angelonia Care and Growing Tips

These tall annual flowers are also known as summer snapdragons.
  • Common name: Summer snapdragon
  • Scientific name: Angelonia angustifolia
  • Zones: 9 to 11 or Annual
  • Light needs: Full sun
  • Soil: Well-draining

The Angelonia genus of about 30 species is native to Central and South America. Angelonia angustifolia is the species most commonly grown in flower gardens around the world. Multiple cultivars are available.

Angelonia plants grow to about 10 to 24 inches tall, depending on type, and spread 8 to 12 inches wide, with several flower stalks on each plant. Miniature detailed blooms somewhat resemble snapdragon blooms (hence the common name).

No deadheading is required. These flowers take care of themselves! Requiring very little maintenance, angelonia is a superb option for beginning gardeners.

angelonia flowers
Angelface Steel Blue has grape-scented foliage.

Angelonia is excellent in flower borders or containers. This plant thrives on heat and humidity, making it an excellent choice for southern gardeners. And don’t worry if you forget to water it every once in a while—it’s also drought-tolerant!

It’s an annual for most gardeners. However, those in zones 9 to 11 may be able to grow it for several years as a perennial in the right conditions. Some may even have luck growing this as a houseplant in a sunny window. Provide regular water and full sun for the best flowering.

See our list of the top 10 annuals that attract hummingbirds.

Angelonia Varieties

Angelonia Serenitapink Closeup Reduced2
Angelonia Serenita Pink

Look for Angelonia plants in garden centers. Or start them from seed in the spring.

The dark purple and soft lilac blooms of Archangel Blue Bicolor are the largest of any angelonia variety. Gardeners in hot climates should snap it up because it thrives in the summer heat. It is deer-resistant, blooms throughout the growing season in sunny locations, and adds height to containers.

Also try Serenita Pink, an All-America Selections winner, which will get about a foot tall. This pretty pink stunner pairs well with other plants in a mixed container or in the landscape.

For more daily garden tips, sign up for our free newsletter.

Pollinator Appeal

Bees love pollinating the small flowers.

The blossoms have evolved to be pollinated by special types of bees that seek out floral oils instead of nectar. The tiny hairs deep inside the flower produce these oils. When the bees crawl in to harvest the oil, they inadvertently gather pollen on their legs and bodies. Then they spread pollen to the next flower as they travel.

Next, discover more of the best flowers that attract bees.