When spring weather warms up and colorful annual and perennial plants are filling the nurseries, I get especially excited to welcome back Mexican Heather. Not only is Mexican Heather the perfect size for the front borders of my annual or perennial gardens, it also makes an excellent addition to my vegetable gardens. I nestle a few of these in between my veggies and sit back and watch the pollinators zoom in and do their stuff. This plant is one of those annual/perennial types of plants that depends on what type of weather we have through winter. Freezing winter = buying a new annual Mexican Heather. Mild winter = a perennial Mexican Heather popping back up.  Let’s take a closer look at why I love these perfect little annual/perennial specimens.
Bee on the annual/perennial Mexican heather.
Close up purple flower

Mexican Heather for Annual/Perennial Gardens

As mentioned above, Mexican Heather is a wonderful, smaller sized plant that loves to take front row status in your annual or perennial gardens. Its mature size of 12″-18″ tall x wide allows for this easily. True-green branches completely lined with tiny, pointed leaves arch outward from the center of the plant. Mexican Heather becomes heavily populated with tiny purple flowers from spring to first frost. You may also find the flower color in magenta or white, but purple is the most common hue in the market.

These flowers, while small in size, are profuse and flush out often, offering local pollinators nectar throughout most of the year. Birds, butterflies, hummingbirds, moths all seek out the vibrant blooms. This is one of the reasons I include it somewhere in my vegetable gardens as well annual or perennial gardens. In veggie gardens, the more pollinators you can seduce to visit the blossoms of your squash, tomatoes, eggplant, etc…, the more fruit you are apt to harvest. By luring the pollinators in with Mexican Heather, they are most likely to stick around and see what else you got!

Mexican heather in a pot.
Mexican heather in the landscape.
Need another reason to love Mexican Heather? This annual (sometimes perennial) is virtually pest and disease free. For the most part, if you are taking care of it properly most pests don’t seek it out and will leave it alone. Besides offering Mexican Heather regular water, it is a really low maintenance plant that does great in both landscapes and containers.

We have found that Mexican Heather does best when it is planted in an area that receives partial sun, morning and early afternoon sun with a little bit of shade during the hottest part of the day during our summers. When planted in full sun, we’ve found that its foliage turns a much lighter green. Plant in soil that has been amended with compost and make sure that it drains well, this annual wont tolerate wet feet. Incorporating some slow-release fertilizer at planting helps it to continue to put out tons of flowers, as well as offering it the occasional water soluble fertilizer every few waterings.

Mexican Heather will not tolerate freezing temperatures, but will reemerge after mild winters. A layer of mulch around its crown helps to protect its roots from winter damage. Containers can be brought inside for winter protection. We do, however, think that new spring plantings still look and perform best each year.

Take a minute to check out Mexican Heather next time you are visiting one of our nurseries. If you don’t know where to find it, I’m betting you can follow the fluttering wings of a butterfly or the buzzing sound of a bee and they’ll lead you right there!

~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy