Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday: Cutleaf coneflower

Welcome to Clay and Limestone on a hot, humid sunny August day! Our Wildflower Wednesday star, Rudbeckia laciniata, is blooming and the smallest bees are feasting on the nectar and pollen.
Cutleaf coneflower grows 3-9 ft. tall
Cutleaf coneflower is a native clump forming perennial with upright stems. The leaves are large, dark green and deeply lobed. Clusters of showy daisy-like flower heads top the plant from late July to fall in my garden (Central South/Middle Tennessee, Zone 6b/7a)

Each head consists of a yellow-green globe shaped cone surrounded by drooping yellow rays. It's a rhizomatous plant and thrives in partly shaded sites with moist or wet fertile soils.

 The statuesque Rudbeckia is a Clay and Limestone rough and tumble wildflower beauty that is tolerant of our hot and humid weather, but it needs an extra drink of water during our droughty summer months. 

 It's blossoms attract a variety of pollinators~bees, flies,

 beneficial wasps, butterflies,
Do you see the crab spider hiding on the back side of the cone?
skippers and moths.

 Caterpillars of Silvery Checkerspot Butterflies forage on the foliage and seeds are sometimes eaten by goldfinches.
tall stems make this a good plant for back of the border
The particulars
Rudbeckia laciniata
Common Name: Cutleaf coneflower, Green headed Coneflower, 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: North America (click on map to enlarge)
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 9.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 3.00 feet (or more)
Bloom Time: July to September
Bloom Description: Yellow rays and green center disks
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium, not xeric
Maintenance: Medium, this plant spreads so you will need to edit/divide. Dead head plant for continued bloom
Flower: Golden yellow
Wildlife value: Butterflies, small and large bees.  Leave Seedheads standing for Chickadees. A good plant for Monarch butterflies especially if you are on their migration/flyway trail (click on map to enlarge)

Deer don't browse cutleaf coneflower
Prefers average, medium to moist soils in part to full sun. Tolerates hot, humid summers, but is not drought tolerant.
Propagation: Divisions from a friend, potted plants from native plant nurseries or seed. Seeds will need moist, cold stratification unless planted in the fall.

The Joes are a good companion plant for Cutleaf coneflower
 Companion plants: I love it with Phlox paniculata 'Jeana', Vernonia, Joe-Pye weed and taller Panicums. The leaves are a nice contrast to Baptisias and Thermopsis, just make sure there's good drainage for companion plants that don't like wet feet.

Comments: Spreads by rhizomes, so give it room to grow. Outstanding in mass plantings, as a back-of-the-border perennial, for streambanks and pond edges and in meadow, prairie, naturalistic and cutting gardens. It does best in full sun, but tolerates light shade.   

I have a deep appreciate for all the Rudbeckias and find the intense golden yellows not only attractive, but important additions to our garden. They bloom from late summer to frost; their saturated warm colors don't get washed out by our intense summer sun; they're easy to grow, they look fantastic with other late blooming rough and tumble wildflowers, they're excellent cut flowers and are important food and nectar source for wildlife.  Cutleaf coneflowers are a valuable late season nectar source for migrating monarchs.

So give them a try, you won't be disappointed.
xoxogail

Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers all over this great big beautiful world. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants, how they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. I hope you join the celebration...It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!



Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday: Joe-Pye Weed

Welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. This month's star is Joe-Pye Weed, which has recently undergone a name change from Eupatorium to Eutrochium. What ever the name, they're  big, beautiful rough and tumble wildflowers that bloom in the middle of our hot, humid summers.
Colossal, bodacious, statuesque, and tough are just a few of words I've heard gardeners use to describe one of my favorite summer pollinator magnets.

They are a quintessential Clay and Limestone rough and tumble wildflower and only require a little special care! They do need to be well established (watered in well the first year) to handle a hot, dry summer and even then a planting might need a big gulp of water once a week. I admit, the straight species is tall and can fall over in a heavy rain (we have those in the Middle South) and the foliage is often described as coarse; but, tall plants like the Joes can be cut back to keep them bushy. Their leaves and deep colored stems are assets in my garden, offering contrast and texture next to the small leaved Echinaceas, Coreopsis, Rudbeckias and Phlox.
I almost always prefer the straight species, but, in this case, the species might be too big and too wild for most gardens! Don't despair, they've tamed this beauty without taking away its best characteristics.
This one plant has a lot going on~ color, texture, beauty and wildlife value

Smaller cultivars like E dubium 'Baby Joe', at under three feet might be just what you're looking for or if you have more space E maculatum 'Gateway',  E maculatum 'Phantom' and E dubium 'Little Joe', will stay under 6 feet. You can always cut them back in the early summer, the plant will be bushier, but the flowers will be smaller.

 If you want drama and have the space, go for the straight species.
Joe-Pyes have prominent petal-like rays, but no petals
What about in my garden? 'Baby Joe' is new this year and seems to have settled in. Yes, I do a deep watering once a week if we don't get rain. 'Gateway', 'Phantom', 'Little Joe' and species E fistulosa are well established but, an extended drought will severely impact them, so they also get supplemental watering during our long, hot and humid summer.
They are magnets for butterflies, bumbles, honeybees, and other pollinators
What all the Joe-Pyes have in common (species doesn't matter) are great big mauve/lavender-pink flower heads that bloom late summer into the fall. The flower head is made up of 8 to 20 petal-less disk flowers, each with 2 long stringy styles and 5 tiny lobes
 They're beautiful, bodacious wildflowers.



Easily grown in average soils, they do prefer, moist, fertile, humusy soils in full sun. Do yourself a favor, let the fluffy brown flower heads stand all winter. They make a wonderful winter statement.
Silvery Checkerspot perching on E fistulosum
If you garden for wildlife this is a must have plant, but, you don't have to take my word for it, just watch the pollinators that visit it all day long. 

xoxogail



Just the facts:

Family: Asteracea
Genus: Eutrochium (formerly Eupatorium)
Species: purpureum, maculatum, fistulosa, dubium
Cultivars: 'Little Joe', 'Baby Joe', 'Gateway', 'Purpureum' and 'Phantom'
Color(s): purple, rose flowers
Soil: Fertile, moist, clay, loam, silt
Sun Exposure: Full sun/partial sun/morning shade/evening sun~It will lean toward the sun if it's too shady
Water Needs: Water well first year, does not like drought
Average Height: 3 ft. - 7 ft.
Average Spread: 1 ft. -3 ft.
Attracts: Butterflies, Bees and other pollinators
Native: Native to US and Canada.
Plant Hardiness Zone: 2 - 9
Propagation: Seed, cuttings, division. The florets produce wind-dispersed achenes (small dry seed with hair-like bristles).
How to use: A good looking plant for water's edge, the back of the border or if you're like me, right in the middle of your sunny border.  Looks great with tall native grasses, Rudbeckias, Ironweed, Solidagos and Coreopsis. Attractive fluffy seed heads persist well into winter.
Comments: If you are absolutely opposed to watering and have seriously dry summers, the Joes aren't for you.

Wildflower Wednesday is about sharing wildflowers all over this great big beautiful world. It doesn't matter if we sometimes show the same plants, how they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most. I hope you join the celebration...It's always the fourth Wednesday of the month!

Thanks for stopping by to help celebrate wildflowers.



Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The nectar robbers are at it again.

Carpenter bees are notorious nectar robbers. That big body makes it hard to fit into many flowers and they will drill or cut into the corolla of a plant to get at the nectar. It looks like the stinkers are getting nectar without a pollen transfer which messes with the mutualism that one expects with pollination.

Today, as I watched a beautiful carpenter bee work its way around the flowers of  Phlox 'Jeane', I wondered if the nectar of that flower could be depleted and what effect that might have on pollination and other visitors?
I wondered what affect this would have on pollination

So I did a little research.

It was always assumed that nectar robbers had a negative impact on the plants that they visited, but that is not necessarily true. The authors of a paper published in the Ecological Society of America Oct 2000 examined the last 50+ years of research on this subject and concluded that nectar robbing could have a beneficial or neutral effect. Here's what they said, "The effects of nectar robbers are complex and depend, in part, on the identity of the robber, the identity of the legitimate pollinator, how much nectar the robbers remove, and the variety of floral resources available in the environment." If you want to read more follow my highlighted link above.
Carpenter bee zeroing in on the nectar machine P paniculata 'Jeana'

I have no idea what effect nectar robbing will actually have on P paniculata 'Jeana'. She is after all a nectar machine! Last summer she was covered with Swallowtail butterflies, skippers, hummingbird moths and bees for almost 6 weeks.

I am hoping that a little nectar robbing now doesn't rob me of the pleasure of watching all her pollinator visitors the rest of this summer!

xoxogail

Gail Eichelberger is a gardener and therapist in Middle Tennessee. She loves wildflowers and native plants and thoroughly enjoys writing about the ones she grows at Clay and Limestone. She reminds all that the words and images are the property of the author and cannot be used without written permission.

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