Thursday, Apr 26, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Kelly Heidbreder

Choose a plant to send a loving message to mom

Golden tiara hostas grow at the Toledo Botanical Garden.

Mother's Day is a great time to give your mom a gift that lasts. If she likes to garden, give her a plant that tells her how you feel about her.

Many plants have clever common names. Putting a few together can create a living botanical Mother's Day gift.

Mother's Day is also the beginning of frost-free weather, so get out there and get planting. Here are some suggestions.


Diamond tiara hosta has white edges on its wide leaves and grows well in shade.


  • Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina). This plant grows about 4 feet tall and likes the shade. It will grow in woodland areas and can tolerate dry soil. Lady fern has a fine texture and dark green color.

  • Hot lips (Chelone lyonii). It might be best if you have your dad give this ground cover to your mom. It grows to only three feet tall and has rose-pink blossoms that are said to look like turtleheads. The pink flowers seem to sparkle against the dark green foliage.

  • Lipstick (Fragaria). Some mothers wear lipstick. Why not have some in their garden? This ground cover has many deep rose-pink flowers that blossom for several weeks in the spring and then give you even more color into summer and fall. Its foliage looks like the leaves of a strawberry, and it even produces edible fruit. It can grow in full sun or light shade and can grow in sandy soil. The compact, small-scale plant grows well in containers.

  • Diamond tiara hosta (Hosta diamond tiara). This shade-loving plant has white edges to its wide leaves. Its cousin, golden tiara, has yellow edges. It usually grows about 12 inches high and 20 inches wide.

  • White Nancy (Lamium maculatum). My mom's name is Nancy. Look for a plant with your mom's name and she can grow her own garden name tag. White Nancy is also called spotted deadnettle and is a bright ground cover. It has silver-white round leaves with a dark green edge and dainty white flowers that bloom in spring and summer. It only grows about six inches tall and excels in full sun or moderate shade.

  • Little Bobby carnation (Dianthus x alwoodii). If your name is Robert, maybe your mother called you Bobby as a youngster. Add this tall carnation to your mother's garden to remember you as a young boy. It grows well in full sun and has gray-green foliage. The blossoms are raspberry-pink with dark maroon centers and frilly edges. These pretty flowers have a sweet fragrance.

  • Mrs. Moon (Pulmonaria saccharata). If your last name is Moon, this is the perfect plant for your mom. This ground cover has fuzzy dark green leaves that look like they have been coated with sugar. Its buds are vibrant red or pink and open to show a purple flower. This plant grows about a foot tall and likes to live in the shade.

  • Mother of thousands (Saxifraga stolonifera). This summer-blooming compact plant is also known as a strawberry geranium. It has round leaves with white veins and its tiny white flowers shoot out of the low growing foliage. Just like a strawberry, this plant sends out daughters to carry on after the mother plant fades away. It is great for container gardens.

  • Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca). This useful herb also is known as lion's tail. It has a pungent fragrance and hairy pale pink or white flowers that bloom in late summer or fall. It is said that motherwort tea helps calm anxious new mothers.

  • Mother-of-thyme (Thymus serpyllum). Many mothers are masters of time management. Some will gladly tell you they have made dinner, done the laundry, helped with homework, bathed the children, walked the dog, cleaned the house, and changed the oil in the car all after coming home from a full-time job. This herb is also known as wild thyme and is low growing with hairy leaves.

    Have fun digging in the garden with your mom on this special weekend. That time together will mean more to her than any expensive gift.

    Kelly Heidbreder is The Blade's garden writer. E-mail her at

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