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

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Wordless Wednesday: Last and First

The last of the summer Phlox and the first of the woodland ex-asters, both stalwart wildflowers at Clay and Limestone. I can't imagine gardening without either of them. This may be the only photo I have of an ex-aster without pollinators!


PS I think one of the ex-asters will be the October Wildflower Wednesday star (October 24, 2018).

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, September 26, 2018

Wildflower Wednesday: Fleischmannia incarnata

I found our Wildflower Wednesday star in the Susan's bed a few years ago. It looked like  Conoclinium coelestinum/Blue Mistflower, but, the flowers were less numerous and pink. There were a few other differences, too. Blue Mistflower is a sturdy plant with upright reddish stems, while this little beauty could be best described as airy and loose limbed.

I rather liked what I saw.

I'm never surprised to discover a new native plant in this neighborhood or even in my garden. Plants frequently appear, either having gone unnoticed or because conditions were favorable for growth of seeds in the soil seed bank. This was a woodland not so very long ago and there must be many wildflower seeds laying dormant in the soil.

Wildflowers and other Central Basin natives grew with happy abandon in the forested woodland where this garden now stands. Sixty three years ago a neighborhood was carved from the woodland and a house was built. Homeowners came and went, while the wildflowers grew quietly on the woodland  edge. Thirty three years ago, my husband I bought this garden and that brand new gardener fell head over heals in love with the Goldenrods and blue clouds of ex-asters that were covered with bees and butterflies. The woodland remnants in my backyard and side yards were where I discovered the beautiful wildflowers that have become my gardening soulmates: False Soloman's Seal, Spring Beauties, Rue Anemone, Trout-lily, False Garlic, Blue-eyed Grass, Wild Sweet William, Sweet Betsy, Goldenrods, Blue Mistflower, Frostweed and those many white and blue ex-asters.

Long time readers might remember that I built this garden around those native beauties, so, finding  Fleischmannia incarnata to add to the mix was delightful.
photo by Richard and Teresa Ware   
Fleischmannia incarnata is a North American species of flowering plant in the Asteracea family. It is native to the United States from Florida north as far as Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois, and west to Texas and Oklahoma.  It's found happily growing in moist woodlands, thickets, marshes, and along streambanks. In optimal growing conditions, it can reach 6 feet tall, but, in my garden it's a low branching sprawler.  It produces numerous flower heads in a flat-topped array at the ends of the stems, each head has about 20 pink or whitish-pink disk flowers per head. There are no ray flowers.

The leaves are opposite, widely spaced at nodes, and triangular shaped; they remind me of Nepeta. They're softer to the touch than leaves of Blue Mistflower, which is another way to tell them apart.

It has an airy, loose limbed attractiveness and is a good partner for Eupatorium serotinum, both are found in moist shade. It's not unusual to find it sprawling against neighboring plants in a lax fashion. Training it on a trellis might help show off it's pretty flower faces to the world.

Foraging bees are frequent visitors. Skippers hover around it, doing their lovely mating dances. It doesn't appear to be a host plant for butterflies, but, if anyone reading this knows otherwise, please let me know.
Florets (Source)
Dried plants are said to have an odor similar to vanilla. I must admit, I've not noticed, but, will make a point this fall when I collect seeds. I will definitely propagate it, because, one needs more sprawling beauties luxuriating in a garden.


The particulars

Botanical name: Fleischmannia incarnata
Common Name: pink slender thoroughwort, pink thoroughwort, pink boneset
Herbaceous perennial
Native Range: In the USA: AL, AR, AZ, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, OH, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV
Tennessee Range:

Size: 12 in. - 6 ft. | 30 cm - 1.8 m, low branching growth habit, sprawling.
Bloom Time: Aug–Dec. depending upon where you garden
Bloom Description:Inflorescence - Flat-topped panicles of heads at branch tips and flower heads with disc florets and no ray florets.
Best Plant Description: In appearance it is reminiscent of a tall, gangly ageratum with pale pinkish florets and catnip-like leaves.
Sun Light: Shade, Partial to Full Shade
Water: Prefers moist soil
National Wetland Indicator Status: FACU+ FAC
Maintenance: Low, as long as it is not allowed to dry out.
Propagation Methods: From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall or direct sow after last frost.
Seed Collecting: Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds.
Comments:Woodlands, thickets, moist soil, roads, ditches, stream banks, bottomlands, swamps, depressions, cedar glades and if your lucky in your garden.
Wildlife value: This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds (seeds). Doesn't appear to be a butterfly host plant, but, it is an excellent nectar source.
Flowers are fragrant
Commercially available: One Beaufort, SC nursery had it for sale.


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  and, it doesn't matter if we all share the same plants. It's all about celebrating wildflowers. 

Please leave your link in the comment section if Mr Linky does not work.

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, August 22, 2018

Wildflower Wednesday: Oenothera biennis

Night blooming Common Evening Primrose is our Wildflower Wednesday star. This tall biennial is  found growing in fields, prairies, glades, thickets, waste ground, disturbed sites, and in other sunny medium to dry sites. While native to almost all the states it's found more often in the central and eastern US.

While researching the plant I noticed that it showed up on several state weed sites!  That's always disconcerting to a wildflower/native plant enthusiast, but, not all wildflowers are appreciated or valued by everyone.  Some might be put off by it's height or it's unremarkable foliage, neither bother me.  I find the yellow flowers that are still blooming when I walk the garden early in the morning to be quite charming.  I like catching their sweet lemony scent and watching the occasional bee or other pollinator visitor that's out that early.
The sweet lemon scent is designed to attract moths
At the top of the over six foot tall, hairy, olive green leafy stalk are the lemon-scented, bright-yellow, four-petaled flowers. Flowering begins in June on second year plants; the stalks continue growing throughout the season, so there are flowers until fall.

This plant can get tall, so plant it where it won't block other pretties, but, you can still enjoy the flower show. In my garden it's happily growing with Rudbeckia triloba, Silphium perfoliatum, Verbesena virginica and Asclepias syriaca. Use native grasses, Verbesinas, and/or Coreopsis to disguise the lower bare stalks.
Each flower has 4 petals, 4 reflexed sepals, 8 stamens and a prominent style with a cross-shaped stigma.
 Oenothera biennis takes 2 years to complete its life cycle, with basal leaves becoming established the first year, and flowering occurring the second. It's not difficult to have flowers every year, just save the seeds and keep planting them. You shouldn't have trouble collecting seed since each seed capsule makes at least a 100 tiny seeds.  Don't get too alarmed about all the seeds...they're an important goldfinch food.
Flowers open at dusk and generally wilt the following morning.
Wildlife value

Common evening primrose is open for the night shift. That's when the pollinating creatures of the night are out and about. Sphinx moths and other moths pollinate the flowers.

 Other visitors have included: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, honeybees, bumblebees, and the Primrose Miner Bee. These insects seek nectar, although some of the bees collect pollen. The caterpillars of several moths feed on the foliage. This includes Endryas unio (Pearly Wood Nymph), Desmia funeralis (Grape Leaffolder Moth), Hyles lineata (White-Lined Sphinx), and Mompha eloisella (Momphid Moth; bores through stems). Various beetles feed on the foliage, including Popillia japonica (Japanese Beetle), Grahops pubescens (Leaf Beetle sp.), Altica fusconenea (Flea Beetle sp.), and several Curculio beetles. The seeds are eaten by goldfinches. (Illinois Wildflowers)

 Nancy Lawson, who blogs at The Humane Gardener says, "If I had the opportunity to rename the common evening primrose in a way that better reflects its value to the modern world, I would call it Moth Life Giver, Bee Brunch or maybe Goldfinch Candy, indicating the rich buffet every part of this plant provides to our wildlife."* I loved her description and if you follow the link I think you'll like what else she has to say!
The particulars:
Oenothera biennis
Common Name: common evening primrose
Type: Biennial herb. Taproot
Family: Onagraceae

Native Range: Evening Primrose can be found throughout most of the United States (some Rocky Mountain states are an exception) and Canada
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 3.00 to 7.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to September
Bloom Description: Yellow
Flower: Showy 
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Propagation Description: Sow unstratified seed in fall – stratified in spring. Tip cuttings can be taken in spring.
Seed Collection: Collect in Aug. to Nov. It is common to find 100 capsules on a plant and over 100 seeds in each capsule. Seeds can remain viable for more than 80 years if buried in soil.
Seed Treatment: Plant on top of soil, seeds need light to germinate.
Commercially Available: Seed isavailable
Wildlife value: Birds, Butterflies, moths, bees.
Tolerate: Drought
Comments: Young leaves, flowers, shoots and first year roots are edible. Research preparation before trying. The leaves and roots are thought to have a peppery taste. It's also cultivated for its oil, which contains some essential fatty acids (Omega-6 fatty acid, linolenic acid and gamma-linolenic acid). Source

I've come to appreciate scrappy native plants like Oenothera biennis that are often the first to show up in disturbed areas. They're automatically members of the rough and tumble wildflower club at Clay and Limestone. I wish that all the disturbed areas around the country could be repopulated with natives, but, too often the non native invasives arrive first. Count yourself lucky if the good guys show up!


Welcome to Clay and Limestone and Wildflower Wednesday.  This day is about sharing wildflowers and other native plants no matter where one gardens~the UK, tropical Florida, Europe, Australia, Africa, South America, India or the coldest reaches of Canada. It doesn't matter if we sometimes share the same plants. How they grow and thrive in your garden is what matters most.

Mr Linky stopped linking when I moved my blog to the secure https setting. please leave your link in the comments. Thanks and so sorry.

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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