Scutellaria serrata isn't that kind of showy. While this perennial may, when it's blooming, be the showiest thing going in its natural habitat, it possesses a much subtler beauty in the garden. I've been growing it in a couple different exposures in my garden for over a decade. Over that time, the plants that have been in morning shade/afternoon sun have performed as follows: New foliage emerges a light, bright green, the margins delicately edged in purple. Growth tops out at close to a foot in height. It blooms, for me, in mid-to-late May.
|A single mature flower is approximately 1" tall. Mid-May blooms, 2007.|
Somehow I've not taken a picture of the whole plant when in bloom. Perhaps this upcoming May... The seed pods that develop after that offer some interest, but are small and might be easily overlooked. For me, the real post-bloom attraction is the development of color in the foliage as summer progresses. The bronzy purple tint at the leaf margins intensifies and spreads with age. I suspect the extent of that will vary with exposure to sunlight, so folks who grow this in more shade will probably get different results.
|Scutellaria serrata holding a few seed pods, leaf margin color harmonizing with Berberis 'Concorde'. July 2006|
|The same showy(?) skullcap with a tuberous pink Allium and more Salvia lyrata ex 'Purple Knockout'. July 2009|
Over time, a single plant will slowly increase to a clump of about one foot across. I've divided such clumps maybe twice. Pests that trouble other nearby plants seem to pass by this skullcap, and the droughts of late seem only to intensify the leaf bronzing. This is one of those plants that may not be conventionally showy, but which still deserves to be recommended due to their rock-solid reliability.