Plants from Africa and Arabia attract butterflies and hummingbirds like few others

The blossoms of few plants – if any – are as alluring to butterflies and hummingbirds as those of pentas (P. lanceolata), a bushy, evergreen perennial.

Indeed, even diehard native plant enthusiasts have been known to sneak a pentas plant or two into their gardens.

Pentas, sometimes called Egyptian star, is native to Africa, Madagascar and the Arabian Peninsula. Dwarf varieties grow 12 to 15 inches tall, while larger types reach 18 to 30 inches in sun or bright, filtered light.

Pentas flowers are available in white, red, pink, lavender and purple, with red and pink the most appealing to butterflies.

Seemingly pest and disease proof, as well as moderately drought tolerant, pentas fares best on sites moderately enriched with organic matter and kept mulched.

Flowering is continuous during years with mild winters, with specimens in sheltered locations withstanding cold snaps better than exposed plants.

Propagate with warm-season cuttings or seeds, which are available online. Incidentally, a single plant is a pentas, not a penta.