photograph by ISTOCK/ASIFE

With bursts of color in the spring and shimmering pods in the fall, money plant, or Lunaria annua, is a wise investment.

Planted now, the seeds of this biennial will produce two- to three-foot plants next spring that will pop with white or purple flowers floating above the foliage. While the blooms are pretty — and often invite butterflies — they are only an opening act for the main attraction.

The round seed pods add the most interest to the garden in late summer and fall when their green coverings turn a dull brown, fall off, and reveal the shiny inner ovals that contain seeds for next year’s crop. When cleaned of their coverings and seeds, the delicate circles, about the size of silver dollars, are eye-catching in dried, indoor flower arrangements.

Although it originated in the Balkans, money plant has been an heirloom favorite in Southern gardens since colonists introduced it in the 1600s. The seeds of this easy-to-grow plant sifted down through the generations.

Money plant will grow almost anywhere, but for healthier, better-producing plants, place the seeds in well-worked, compost-enriched soil. They need at least four to five hours of sun each day with some afternoon shade. If planted in the early fall, the hardy seedlings will overwinter in the garden and greet the new spring with masses of butterfly-shaped flowers.

Keep in mind: If the pods aren’t picked yearly, these plants will readily reseed in the garden to the point of being invasive. So be careful to properly manage your investment.

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L.A. Jackson is an editor, writer, and lecturer. Jackson lives in Apex.