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Linaria triornithophora - "Three Birds Flying"

I'm not sure who named it "Three Birds Flying", but it sure is a fun plant!  Linaria triornithophora is a rare, unusual perennial from Portugal and Spain that always attracts comments.  It grows 2 to 3 feet tall, putting out lots of exotic, pink & yellow blooms for much of the year.  This is a delightful novelty that deserves to become very popular with gardeners - especially since it's easy to grow!

Linaria triornithophora - "Three Birds Flying"

Linaria was believed to be a Snapdragon relative, but was recently moved to the Plantain family after genetic research was done on it.  Three Birds Flying grows taller than most Linarias, and the flowers are quite big.  Its main blooming season is spring and summer, although it flowers well into fall here in San Francisco.  The inflated, 1" blooms appear in whorls along foot-tall spires.  The color is bright pink with a hint of lavender or purple, and the throat is tipped in yellow.  They have an interesting shape no matter what angle you view them from!  The species name, triornithophora, is Latin for "bearing three birds", although the whorls can sometimes have 4 flowers.  So the plant really should be named "Three or Sometimes Four Birds Flying"!

Linaria triornithophora - "Three Birds Flying"

Three Birds Flying is easy to grow.  It has handled temperatures in the 90s without a problem.  But it can only take a light frost, so either save the seeds, or bring the plant indoors for the winter.  It is easily grown in an 8" pot in ordinary, well-draining potting soil.  It enjoys sun, but some afternoon shade might be needed in hotter areas.  It prefers lightly moist soil.  In high rainfall areas, add some extra perlite or orchid bark to the soil mix, to keep it aerated.  This species might re-seed itself in Zones 6-11, although it's not likely to become invasive.

Linaria triornithophora - "Three Birds Flying"

 

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