She's standing tall and looking good! (all photos enlarge)
Look at that posture! Not a curved stem anywhere on this lady. Stokesia laevis "Peachie's Pick" has erect stems, healthy green leaves, heat and drought tolerance and a later bloom time than the species... which makes her especially attractive to grow here in the south.
Her lavender blue flowers are a wonderful addition to the garden. She makes a good cut flower for those of you who like to bring your garden inside....you can't beat those erect stems. I leave her in the garden...we have this cat who likes to eat flowers!
She will grow in most sunny, well drained perennial borders. She brooks no poorly drained, heavy clay soil! "What!" you've exclaimed. You're wondering how she tolerates Clay and Limestone! She's happy here because I make sure her feet aren't wet during the winter months. That's our rainy season, so the soil has been amended with a shovel of gravel for faster drainage.
For those of you further north than Tennessee...Stokesia is a native of the Southeastern states...Naturally found growing in moist pine flatlands. Zone 5 might be her upper limits...Mulch will help, just remember...definitely No Winter Wet Feet! She likes her moisture in the summer.
If you're in Zone 6a/b or warmer, Peachie will sport a lovely deep green basel rosette all winter. Aren't her leaves a lovely shade of green?
Evergreen plants are greatly valued in all gardens during the winter months, but are especially appreciated where there is no snow cover.....We need some color on the ground, not just in the shrub layer.
I have high hopes for Peachie...she is rumored to be a re-bloomer, if deadheaded regularly. My experience with the Stokesia laevis (species) leads me to believe... that no way, no how will she re-bloom, but who knows! Plants never cease to surprise and amaze.
One site recommends letting Peachie go to seed... because the seed heads and flower bracts turn a lovely pink and green. This is plant hearsay! When you dead head with hopes of re-bloom...you don't get to see pretty in pink and green bracts and seed heads. But, I'm willing to give it a try! Maybe I'll leave one plant alone...no deadheading and see if indeed the seed heads are worth it! At the very least there will be some seeds.
Peachie is growing in the almost native garden ...She is sited directly in front of a purple Baptisia. You can just see the Baptisia leaves in the background. The leaf contrast is attractive...and since they bloom at different times, that is greatly appreciated. I love the pop of white in the center of Peachie's flower.
At her feet are Thyme and Cranesbill. Don't you think she would look lovely with Coreopsis lanceolata, any of the purple Echinachea and other June bloomers. I haven't tried this yet, but a spot of Silene Virginica (Fire Pink) might be quite effective for those of you into hot colors.
The Blue of Stoke's Aster is said to have a calming or softening effect on the yellow of Oenothera (Sundrops) or Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed). Imagine her winter rossette with gray leaved Mulleins, the pretty leaves of Heuchera and Blue Eyed Grass. I am already planning on where I'll put her when it's time to divide!
Every garden has their own unique micro-climate and what blooms here in June might bloom where you are in May or July! You probably have some great plant combinations that the Mid South just can't create! If you grow Stokesia what have you combined it with?
Bees and Butterflies seem to love it!
If you look closely you can find a sweet butterfly! Oh, I've forgotten what her name is...the caterpillar is fond of the Brassicaceae plant family! It's a Cabbage White Butterfly!
Also, hovering around Stokesia, have been lots of small pollinators...very bee like in appearance, but too fast to get a good photo! Later this afternoon, this big boy was hanging around Peachie!
I hope you give this plant a try. She is perfectly well mannered, she looks gorgeous in the garden, she makes an excellent cut flower, there are rumors that she re-blooms, she has pretty fall seed-heads, she attracts pollinators and she is evergreen. You have to agree, there is something about Peachie!
“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”