Pink Skullcap: a great Texas plant from Mexico by way of North Carolina
Scutellaria suffrutescens is a plant known by many names. We typically call it Texas Skullcap, but it’s also called: Pink Skullcap, Pink Texas Skullcap, Texas Pink Skullcap, Cherry Skullcap, and Texas Rose Mexican Skullcap.
Whatever you call it, this is an excellent ground cover for North Texas. It’s a low-growing, woody, deciduous perennial with a mounding, symmetrical growth habit. It will drop its leaves in winter, but won’t die back to the ground. Instead, it’ll look like a flat tumbleweed. In spring, it will leaf out on the old wood. You’ll find it to be bit taller in the middle and shorter on the edges, and it will grow wider every year. Average height is 8-18 inches tall and and 24-30 inches wide. But it can grow wider if you let it.
The photo below is from my backyard. I planted this skullcap in 2013 and haven’t touched it since. It’s now 16 inches tall and 5 feet across!
There’s a lot to love about this skullcap. First of all, it blooms like crazy from spring through fall with a beautiful mass of rosy-red to pink snapdragon-like flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Second, it has no insect or disease issues. It’s about as low maintenance as a plant gets. Just put it in the ground and ignore it and it will thrive on neglect. Third, it’s VERY heat and drought tolerant and needs very little water once established. This is an excellent choice for a rock garden, xeriscape, large container, or any area with little of no irrigation. Just be sure to plant it in full sun. It will take part sun, but you’ll get far more blooms in full sun.
The name Texas Skullcap is a misnomer, as the plant is native to Mexico, not Texas, and it was named by Plant Delights Nursery, in Raleigh, North Carolina. Sound confusing? Let me explain.
Texas Rose Mexican Skullcap – Scutellaria suffrutescens ‘Texas Rose’ (the variety we sell at Shades of Green) – was originally collected in 1986 by horticulturists Dave Creech, Ray Jordan, and the late Lynn Lowery near Horsetail Falls, west of Monterrey, Mexico. In 1990, Stephen F. Austin horticulture alum Tim Kiphart, a former student of Dr. Creech, returned to Horsetail Falls and found a darker flowering pink skullcap and sent it to Tony Avent at Plant Delights who named it ‘Texas Rose.’
If you find that a bit confusing, don’t worry. All that matters is that this plant is an excellent choice for any sunny North Texas garden. If you’re interested, you can find it at Shades of Green.
Common Name: Texas Skullcap, Pink Skullcap
Latin Name: Scutellaria suffrutescens
Pronounced: skew-teh-LARE-ee suf-roo-TES-kens
About the Author: Tim Wardell is a Texas Certified Nursery Professional and the Marketing Coordinator for Shades of Green, Inc.