Have you discovered the ease and pleasure of growing Turtlehead? A little-known American native perennial, it thrives in damp soils along the edges of ponds and creeks, as well as consistently moist spots in woodlands and meadows. Surely you have just the place for it in your garden or container?
Tiny Tortuga (don't you love the name?!) is a dwarf Turtlehead, the offspring of a well-known variety called Hot Lips. Tiny Tortuga delights with rich, dark bronzy-burgundy leaves in spring, followed by dark pink blooms in mid and late summer, sometimes even extending into fall. In other words, from spring through summer there's something pretty to look at!
And TIny Tortuga makes a big impression even in small spaces. The leaves (ranging from about 3 to 5 inches long) are nicely veined and pointed, their strong spring color lasting for many weeks before going green for the remainder of the season. The flowers are just 1 to 1½ inches long and very bright. They may remind you of Snapdragons, with their 2-petaled structure. They call to mind a turtle's mouth -- hence the common name of this plant!
Tiny Tortuga reaches just 14 to 16 inches high and not quite as wide, thriving in full sun in cool climates and partial shade in warmer ones. It appreciates deep, rich soil (its natural habitat is the nutrient-rich leaf mold of the forest floor or creek bank), but other than that needs no special care other than consistent moisture.
Butterflies flock to Tiny Tortuga, while deer avoid nibbling on it. Remarkably pest-free, it has all the vigor and resilience you'd expect of a native plant. It spreads slowly over time, never invasively but willing to colonize into good-sized groups. Of course, it also fares quite happily in a container.
This season, distinguish your garden from all others in the neighborhood by adding a hardy, long-lived, easy-to-grow native perennial that just happens to be a great conversation point as well! Tiny Tortuga awaits you! Zones 3-8.