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Pentas lanceolata (Egyptian Star)

Here's a favorite flower of Steve Meyer, horticulturalist at the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Why he loves it: Clusters of star-shaped flowers appear in shades of red, rose, pink, lavender or white all season until frost. The plant has a pleasant mounding habit that doesn't require staking or deadheading. They are well-suited for planting in window boxes and containers or in garden beds. These easy-to-care-for annuals are also an attractant for butterflies and hummingbirds. About Pentas lanceolata: Benary's New Look series and Graffiti series are shorter in stature, ranging from 8 to 10 inches in height, and are great when used as an edging plant. For a taller location, Benary's Kaleidoscope series and Simply Beautiful's Butterfly series can range in height from 12 to 22 inches. There also is Pentas 'Stars and Stripes' with variegated foliage and scarlet-red flowers with pink centers that can reach a height of 20 inches. What it likes: Pentas like a moist, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. Tricks of the trade: Pentas can be propagated from seed or tip cuttings. Removal of the seed pods is not necessary but will help to speed up the formation of new flower heads. Best buds: Pentas contrast well with the deep blue flowers of Salvia farinacea and the spiky form of Angelonia angustifolia and combine well with other butterfly flowers such as lantana and Benary's Profusion series zinnias. Their small, delicate flowers are a nice complement to the bold texture of dwarf cannas.
Steve Meyer
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