Norfolk Botanical Garden has the only recognized collection of crapemyrtles (Lagerstroemia species and hybrids) in North America, and likely the world. Our climate is extremely well adapted to their growth, closely mimicking the climate of their native Asia. They have been an important part of our collection since Fred Huette first encouraged area gardeners to plant them last century. Today they are the official tree of the city of Norfolk, and comprise over half of all street trees on city property. Their peak season of bloom is typically early July, but regular summer rains produce flushes of fresh blooms.

Located – Garden Wide

Desert Willow

Willow in name only, this plant (Chilopsis linearis) is actually related to catalpa trees. It is native to the desert southwest where it likes to live in washes where water might be more prevalent. It does well here in Coastal Virginia in full sun, but must have very well drained soil. The specimen in our Conifer Garden, near NATO Bridge is the largest in the state.

Located – Conifer Garden

Panicle Hydrangeas

Although the more familiar bigleaf hydrangeas tend to hold their bloom color well into summer, often ageing gracefully, they are now past their bright peak. However, the panicle hydrangeas (Hydrangea paniculata) come into their own in early July lasting until early fall. These differ not only in bloom time, but unlike many other hydrangeas, they do well in full sun. The flowers usually emerge a fresh greenish white, mature to pure white, then age to a dusky pink later in the summer.

Located – Kaufman Hydrangea Garden, Flowering Arboretum, and Garden Wide

Sacred Lotus

There are few flowers more attractive and eye-catching than that of sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera). The fragrant blossoms are shades of a delicate pink, surrounding a central pod. This edible and medicinal wetland plant is revered in Asian cultures for its ability to cleanly rise above the muck and mud with such beauty. After the blooms have gone, the attractive seed pods will remain and are prized by flower arrangers. You can enjoy these flowers up close and personal from the stone footbridge in our Japanese Garden.

Located – Japanese Garden  

Star Landing Lantana

Most lantana varieties (Lantana camara) are considered annuals in Coastal Virginia. However, there are a handful that are reliably hardy perennials for us, with the best-known being ‘Miss Huff’ which is a favorite here at NBG. Over the past few years we have also grown very fond of a variety called ‘Star Landing’, which is a little less rangy than ‘Miss Huff’, and the gardeners and volunteers in our Butterfly Garden have been impressed with how many pollinators it attracts. The color of ‘Star Landing’ is also different being a very strong orange and yellow with no pink.

Located – Butterfly Garden 


While there are many species of perennial sunflower, the most commonly familiar is an annual, Helianthus annuus. Though it has been bred for showy flowers, it has more importantly been bred to for its seeds, which are an important food, fodder, and oil crop. We planted sunflowers in many places this year to remember the people of Ukraine, and to help promote our Sunflower Music Festival occurring later this month on the 28th.

Located – WOW Grain Plain