Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday: In Praise of a Rather Tall Wildflower!

Silphium perfoliatum is one tall wildflower!

Some would say that this beauty is a beast of a plant and I might have agreed several years ago when it stood 9 feet tall and 3 foot wide in my little sunny Susan's Bed! I've since learned to cut it back at the same time I clip the ex-asters. I suggest you do the same, because banning this beauty from your garden because it's tall and colonizing would be a shame.

You just can't beat the composite flowers when it comes to wildlife value, but, there's something especially wonderful about Cup Plant. Once the flowers open the pollinators descend upon the garden and they stay until the last petal falls from the plant and then the birds eat the seeds. But, even before it blooms, the wasps, Bumble bees, flies and small birds stop by to drink the rain and dew that has collected in the fused leaves that form a cup around the plants square stems. It's a very cool plant.

Cup Plant is a native of tall grass prairies where it grows in moderately rich, moist well drained neutral to alkaline soil. Expect it to make itself at home in your garden by setting down a central taproot and shallow rooted rhizomes. First year seedlings are easily transplantable from where you don't want them to where you do. It can and will spread vegetatively (and by seed) to form a large and tall colony that makes a striking statement in the back of a garden. Plant it with other prairie forbs and grasses to create a pocket prairie. 
Big plant,
good looking flowers,
spreads assertively,
a rough and tumble wildflower,
tons of happy pollinators,
great wildlife value...
A tattered beauty in the garden July 22, 2014
Only you can decide if this beauty is a beast!

xoxogail

Some particulars you might want to know about Cup Plant!
Asteraceae family
Perennial
Growth: Can grow to as much as 9 ft. tall by 3 ft. wide...I am not kidding!
Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Jul, Aug, Sep
Distribution USA: AL , AR , CT , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NE , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SD , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV Canada: ON Native Distribution: S. Ont. to NC, w. to e. Great Plains
Native Habitat: Moist woods; prairies; low ground
Growing Conditions: Wet to mesic soils. Will tolerate clay soil. It grows in my garden, it will grow in yours!
Comments: Unstoppable urge to reproduce, they will pop up everywhere; very little care needed. (source)

Thank you for stopping by and welcome to Clay and Limestone's Wildflower Wednesday celebration. WW is about sharing and celebrating wildflowers from all over this great big, beautiful world. Join us on the fourth Wednesday of each month. Remember, it doesn't matter if they are in bloom or not; and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. Please leave a comment when you add your url to Mr Linky. 



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 2, 2014

The Phlox is Blooming

....and I couldn't be happier!
It's blooming in most gardens in Nashville, but I was worried that there would be no phlox in my summer garden. This past spring I discovered that Phlox Bug had infected my plants. Long time readers know that I go to great lengths to insure that that horrid life sucking bug never gets another toe hold in my garden...But, it did.

It's my practice to let the garden go to seed and stand all winter. (A Garden Cleanup Reminder) The seed heads and stalks of native plants provide winter interest and hiding places for  the critters who live and visit my garden. But, I never, ever, ever leave the stalks of Phlox paniculata. Trashing the dead leaves and stalks is an essential first line defense against the Phlox Plant Bug. But, in a garden like mine, where rough and tumble plants do their plant thing~set seed and make offspring all over the place~it's easy to over look a few stalks.

Why trash the stalks? That's where the Phlox bugs over winter! They emerge in the spring and wreck havoc on the plants.* So, this spring when they showed up in the garden, I went on a hunt and seek mission smashing every one of the little red buggers. They're fast, but, I was faster. I also chopped the infected plants down and disposed of the stalks in the trash (never in the compost pile).
The phlox that's blooming now is looking especially good and there's more blooms to come~
I couldn't be happier~I know the pollinators will be, too.

xoxogail

**  Lopidea davisi is a plant juice/sap sucking insect that feeds mainly on perennial phlox. This is not a pest to ignore. I found out the hard way! They can form dense populations and suck the life juices (sap) out of your plants. The clever little adults lay white-colored eggs in the fall in the stems of the plant, behind the leaf petioles. The eggs overwinter  and nymphs emerge in early May. Two or more generations could develop in a season.

Top photo is P 'Laura'
Second photo is P 'Peppermint Twist'
Bottom photo is P 'David'

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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