The Seductive Lure of Plant Names

When I’m at the nursery on a plant buying spree, (oops, did I say, spree? I meant visit) the thing about a plant that gets me first is colour. Anything blue, purple or lime green and my eye goes right for it. A closer inspection of the tag can frequently bring another hook: the variety name.

Breeders of hostas and daylilies are the masters of this. It must be one of the most fun parts of being a breeder, I think, coming up with all the great, creative, and sometimes hilarious names. If it’s a plant I already like the look of of, and the name charms me as well, or resonates because it’s the first and middle name of my sister, (Helen Elizabeth poppy) or the middle name of my cousin and myself, (Victoria Louise poppy) well, am I going to put that plant in my cart? Yes, I am going to put that plant in my cart.

I’ve been collecting red daylilies. Coming upon this gorgeous one a number of years ago, that also bore the name of Crimson Pirate, and, me being a mad Burt Lancaster fan– the actual Crimson Pirate of movieland–I of course had to have it! I love the flowers when they pop up in my garden in mid-July and bloom for almost a month, and knowing they’re named after Burt Lancaster’s role, the swashbuckling Crimson Pirate, well, it simply doubles the pleasure.

Do you have any plants that called out to you because of the name?


  1. Absolutely. You know me. I love entering a garden that has 'Happy Thoughts' (pelargonium) or 'Liberty' (hosta) or one that grows 'Great Expectations' (hosta again).

  2. I couldn't resist "Bowl of Beauty" Peony, and planted it near my "Cherry Bomb" Barberry. And the name was a key factor in my purchasing "Scatterbrain" daylilly.

  3. I adored a near white Hosta but wasn't thrilled to know it's cultivar was 'Outhouse Delite!' You know is one too many Hosta when they have to resort to such a moniker! Still bought it though, but refer to it as 'WHite Feather's' – a similar sport!
    And then for the Hoiti hort in me….. peltoboykinia watanebei! Nothing too spectacular, but doesn't the name sound impressive!

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