california native flora

a drought tolerant patio garden of mostly natives

Woolly Blue Curls Journal

Trichostema Lanatum – Woolly Blue Curls

July 3, 2011 - Trichostema Lanatum - Woolly Blue Curls. Still very small but has survived into a second year!
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Trichostema Lanatum is a chaparral shrub native to Southern California. It is common in the Santa Monica’s which makes it a local plant to me but sadly that doesn’t make it easy to grow or even find in retail! People lucky enough to find a nursery specimen know to snap it up quickly. The Theodore Payne Foundation hold their Trichostema Lanatum plants back for their spring and fall festivals and you’ll usually find they are all gone on the first day.

It is easy to see why Trichostema Lanatum is so popular to garden fanatics. This unusual plant grows quickly in full sun, requires no water once established and has a long blooming season which attracts hummingbirds, bees and butterflies to the garden. The foot long flower stems are covered with a purple to pink wool from which pretty blue flowers with long curling anthers protrude. The flowers and foliage have a pleasing fragrance.

So it sounds great but growing it is not easy. This plant requires an open habitat where air flow is good. Most important is the drainage which has to be very good. It is easy to kill this plant so be careful not to fertilize and stop watering once summer gets in full swing.

This plant has proven to be temperamental even to experts in California native plants. Trichostema Lanatum grows with spectacular abandon all over the Botanic Gardens at Rancho Santa Ana, yet you’ll seldom find it in their nursery. Seeds are notoriously difficult to germinate and the preferred method of propagation, cuttings, yields a low success rate. It sounds like a lot of trouble but it really is worth it when skill, luck and the right environment all come together and you find yourself with a healthy, thriving plant.

The good people at Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita are a rare source of abundant specimens. They know a secret and are wisely keeping it to themselves! They often have Woolly Blue Curls available to buy online.

One may occasionally come across hybrid varieties of Trichostema that are more tolerant of garden conditions. In my garden I have one Trichostema Lanatum and also a hybrid of Trichostema Lanatum and an unknown [to me] Mexican Trichostema. The resulting hybrid has similar foliage and structure but the flowers are a lighter purple color.

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Plant Meta Data

Common NameWoolly Blue Curls
Botanic NameTrichostema Lanatum
OriginCalifornia
Bloom PeriodSpringSummer
Bloom Color
Light RequiredSun
Water ToleranceDrought
Potential Size (H x W)4' x 4'
NotesAttracts HummingbirdsAttracts BeesFragrant

Gallery

Click image to enlarge

July 3, 2011 - Trichostema Lanatum - Woolly Blue Curls. Still very small but has survived into a second year!July 3, 2011 - Trichostema Hybrid - Hybrid Woolly Blue CurlsJune 5, 2011. - Woolly Blue Curls - Trichostema Lanatum.Apr 16, 2011. - Trichostema Hybrid.Mar 12, 2011. - Woolly Blue Curls - Trichostema Lanatum.Mar 12, 2011. - Trichostema Hybrid. Cross between Californian Trichostema Lanatum and a Mexican Trichostema. More garden tolerant.Mar 12, 2011. - Trichostema Hybrid. Cross between Californian Trichostema Lanatum and a Mexican Trichostema. More garden tolerant.Dec 12, 2010. - Woolly Blue Curls - Trichostema Lanatum. Ground specimen.Sep 26, 2010. - Woolly Blue Curls - Trichostema Lanatum. Ground specimen.Sep 26, 2010. - Woolly Blue Curls - Trichostema Lanatum. Rare seedling, 2 months old.June 27, 2010. - Woolly Blue Curls - Trichostema Lanatum.