Steve Owens Speaking Here Feb 20

Free and open to the public
Feb 20, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.
Steve Owens, owner Bustani Plant Farm
"Plant Hunting in Kenya for Oklahoma Gardens"

Garden Education Room, Honor Heights Park
Sponsored by Friends of Honor Heights Park
Talk followed by membership meeting

Steve and Ruth Owens, owners of Bustani Plant Farm in Stillwater OK, focus on growing unique plants for gardens in Oklahoma as well as other states with similar growing conditions.

Steve and Ruth travel to Africa looking for new plants. This Saturday, he will give a talk for Friends of Honor Heights Park members and guests. His topic is plant hunting in Kenya but since he is knowledgeable in all things horticultural, participants should come ready to learn a wide spectrum of details about how to succeed in their gardens.

In a telephone interview, Steve said, Gardeners can get a good idea what we have from the website ( and from the free catalog, but, there is a much greater variety available to anyone who visits the farm.

The native plants they grow are from seeds collected on their property and other plants are grown from cuttings taken from their own stock.

We grow everything from seed and cuttings, Steve said. We don't buy plants to grow and sell.

With a focus on natives and perennials for Oklahoma gardens, some customers come to them specifically for hummingbird and butterfly attracting plants.

Collecting our own seed, helps us grow plants that are ideal for our cold hardiness zone, our rainfall and soil, Owens said.

The hummingbird attracting plants available at Bustani include native wisteria (Wisteria macrostachya) and native Baptesia australis (Baptisia australis var. minor). The native varieties remain more compact and stay put without being invasive.

Native Baptesia is drought tolerant after becoming established.

Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the tubular shaped flowers of Vervain which is related to verbena and lantana. Dwarf Red False Vervain (Stachytarpheta Red Compacta) has bright red flowers on a 2=foot tall and wide plant. They also offer Deep Blue, Pink, and Variegated Pink, False Vervain.

A plant I bought from Bustani several years ago is King's Crown (Dicliptera suberecta) from Uruguay. It is a shrubby plant, around 30-inches tall, with soft gray leaves and red-orange tube flowers that hummingbirds like. It is hardy to zone 7 but I take cuttings every winter just to make sure I have one to plant in the spring.

Another one that keeps hummingbirds busy is Coral Bean shrub (Erythrina x bidwillii). In a west facing bed at our house, it grew 6 feet tall and bloomed all summer with blood red tubular flowers that made visitors stop and stare. Though mine did not survive the winter, other Muskogee gardeners still have theirs after several years.

Spanish Flag or Exotic Love Vine (Ipomoea lobata) from Mexico is a relative of Morning Glory, with tube-shaped flowers in red, orange, yellow and white.

The colorful tube-shaped flowers of Cigar Plant (Cuphea) also bring hummingbirds. David verity Cigar Plant will grow 2-feet tall and wide over the summer if we have our usual heat and it has full sun. Other Cigar Plant varieties: Purple bi-color, Orange and Susan's Little Gem.

The online Hummingbird Forum ( has ongoing conversations about hummingbird plants for your garden.

Bustani's first open weekend of the season will be April 16 and 17 when their plants and the ground are ready for each other. Then, they will be open every weekend until June 6.

If you go to their retail location in Stillwater, allow time for walking around the display gardens to see everything and get ideas on how to combine native plants to look as good as any formal garden.

At the Saturday event, Steve will have copies of his book, "Best Garden Plants for Oklahoma" and copies of Bustani's catalog.

Information: or Matthew Weatherbee 918.682.9276


gourdphile said…
Hey Ms. M: All the photos of your babies make me homesick for the garden, though I'm still winter lazy.

My regards to Steve and Ruth when you see them!


Jan M.

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