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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday~Phacelia bipinnatifida



Sometimes you meet a wildflower and know instantly that it's a keeper. That's how I felt about Purple Phacelia when I made its acquaintance many years ago. I was standing at the top of a hill and there they were, completely covering the slope with a blanket of purple flowers and buzzing bees. It was dazzling.


I couldn't duplicate the moist sunny hillside, but, I moved my gift plant to a little wildflower garden I had started a few years before. Lucky for me the container had blooming plants along with a few seedlings. A perfect start for a biennial like Phacelia.
Purple Phacelia, Scorpionweed, Fernleaf Phacelia and Forest Phacelia are all names for Phacelia bipinnatifida.
When it comes to biennials, some years are better then others. When you are trying to get a biennial established it's important to remember: One year from seed, second year to flower, then it dies. To have flowers every year you have to get a colony started. I really was lucky to be given several plants in bloom and many first year seedlings. Those first flowers were fertilized, set seed and then died. A year later their seeds germinated and grew; meanwhile, the original first year seedlings bloomed; their flowers were fertilized, set seed, then died. Starting an absolutely brilliant cycle that I make sure doesn't get interrupted.

tightly coiled inflorescence in bud
This was a lean year. Not many blooms, but, there are first year plants ready and I am pretty sure the flowers were fertilized so the cycle will continue. To insure my little colony will make it through the deluge/drought pattern Middle Tennessee has settled into, I'll hand water them during the severely dry times. There's also a few first year seedlings growing in the path (seedlings love paths) that will go back into the bed. I sure hope the bees did their job and fertilized those flowers!

Aside from their adorable cuteness or their interesting musky odor when you brush the leaves and flowers; I grow phacelia for it's wildlife value! Bees love Phacelia! They want the nectar and pollen. Occasionally skippers and small butterflies will visit. But, really, Phacelia is all about the bees! I've read that the honey from honey bees visiting Phacelia colonies is quite tasty~I would love to try it. Now, does anyone know where can we find it?


Phacelia bipinnatifida is a gem of a plant. I hope you can locate it for your garden.
Where in the US Purple Phacelia is native


If you can't grow P bipinnatifida, don't worry. There's a Phacelia species in every state, except for Florida, Vermont and New Hampshire. They love Canada, too. For a complete A (Phacelia adenophora) to W (Phacelia welshii) listing go here. Sorry, there's no Phacelia X, Y or Z! Check with native plant nurseries in your state or online to buy plants. Remember, only collect plants if you have permission to and never, never, ever in the local, state or US Parks.

xxoogail

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 add your url to Mr Linky, he's on the sidebar today, as we continue to celebrate wildflowers today and all week. Please leave a comment.

This post was written by Gail Eichelberger for my blog Clay and Limestone Copyright 2011.This work protected under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.

28 comments:

  1. Oh how lovely! This is one I'm not so familiar with. I think I've got to go find this plant. I hope my local nursery carries it.

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  2. What a lovely plant! I will have to check the native plant nursery in SC to see if they have it. Thank you for introducing me to this plant.

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  3. My little gathering of Waterleaf Plant is blooming now too. It has such a soft airy presence. Seeds itself everywhere in my side garden. I just love it. Happy WFW.

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  4. This one is new to me so will be searching for a variety native to NY...linked in and loving this week of wildflowers...

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  5. Thank you for introducing me to yet another wildflower I wasn't familiar with, Gail! I looked it up, and sure enough, it was in my "Illinois Wildflowers" book. I'll be on the lookout for it now.

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  6. What a beautiful flowers, and a great description of the biennial cycle. I am lucky to live right near the Nasami Farm nursery which is operated by the New England WildFlower Society. I have gotten any number of plants there from groundcovers, perennials and shrubs. I just bought a pagoda dogwood to add ornament to the proposed windbreak.

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  7. Dear Gail, Your beautiful photographs truly make me drool over your Phacelia. I am not sure it is hardy here. It reminds me of a wild geranium that grows in the fields. I hope you find the honey!

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  8. They're new to me, but so pretty, and so valuable to the bees, I can see why you love them so Gail.

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  9. I will look for this one, Gail, it is so lovely. I can imagine a field of these, oh my oh my! Your photos are breathtaking, my dear!
    xxxooo
    Frances

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  10. I can hear the bee humming while he works. Love this one and will enjoy your pictures since it grows a bit south of me.

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  11. Such a pretty Phacelia. I grew a brilliant blue (non-native?) one some years ago. I've read that they attract beneficial insects (including bees obviously!). Thanks for championing wildflowers in the garden!

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  12. That is a beautiful plant. Native plants are just waking up here. I found a native shrub blooming for my contribution.

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  13. Beautiful plants Gail. Thanks for thinking of us in the colder zones and including the link so we can find natives where we live too!

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  14. hello Gail, I'm so pleased to at last be able to join you for wildflower wednesday, thanks for all your wonderful post, Frances

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  15. Gail, every time when I visit your blog, I learn something new. What a delightful flower!

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  16. My dears~I am shutting down the computer as lightening flashes and thunder booms! See you later when this weather event ends. xxoogail PS poor TN~more flood warnings and watches

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  17. Hi Gail
    I'm planning on growing Phacelia as a green manure on my veg garden this year. You sow it when you have bare soil as it helps to cover the earth preventing more weeds and the plant adds nitrogen into the soil. Then a couple of weeks before you want to use the soil you cut the plant down and dig it into the soil! Plus of course you have the lovely flowers in between

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  18. What a beautiful flower, and it's native to Alabama, too! So why don't I have it in my garden? I have to find some!

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  19. Ah, Gail, once again you introduce us to a perfectly lovely garden flower - which just happens to be one of your wildings - and which i mentally add to my list of plants to remember and seek out... Thanks! Jack

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  20. What a lovely plant. Sad it won't grow here or I would put it on my wish list.

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  21. Hi Gail, I would love to know more about wildflowers and your post has helped that along. What a beauty! Your pictures really show it off. I noted its name so I can try to look for it.

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  22. This is a new one to me. It is a pretty wildflower and it really looks like the bees find it irresistible, always a big plus. Great photos, BTW.

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  23. Doesn't the common name of this plant have something to do with bees? Or am I just confused (again)? Whatever, it's a pretty thing.

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  24. Looks lovely, like Flax/Borage. The photo with a closeup of the bee looks fantastic, Gail.

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  25. This plant is new to me, but I see that it's native to Missouri! I'll have to be on the watch for it, I would love to add it to my garden!

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  26. I just saw your comment about the storm. When I came in from gardening, your governor was on the news. What a lot of bad storms are going around!

    I'm not familiar with that plant, but I sure like it! I see I am just a few miles out of its range. I wonder if I could grow any. I have some money plants that are biennials. One is starting to bloom while quite small. I wasn't sure if any of the babies were from last year or all from this year.

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  27. I love this plant and have tried without success so far to get it going in my garden. I must keep mulching over the seeds. The NC Botanical in CH has a wonderful display of it in their mountain section. A carpet of Phacelia is truly a magical sight.

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  28. It is great fun to visit wildflowers around the country. Thanks for creating this platform for sharing.

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Let us be grateful to people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners
who make our souls blossom.


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