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

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wildflower Wednesday~~Narrowleaf Silk Grass

Pityopsis graminifolia Synonym: Heterotheca graminifolia

I knew nothing of Narrowleaf Silk Grass when I saw it at my favorite native plant nursery in early September. It was still blooming amid the gone to seed coneflowers, baptisias and other natives that Growild grows and sells wholesale to landscapers and retail nurseries.
In the Susans Bed~~it's the spot of yellow

Sure, it's another one of those "darned yellow composites", but, the narrow silvery grass like leaves give it a different appearance in the garden. The fact that it was still blooming last week after being pelted by a great deal of rain makes it an attractive garden addition. (edit: Just checked, it's still blooming!)

The yellow flowers are small...about the size of a nickle and generally begin to flower in late summer and continue to bloom into the middle of October. It's about three feet tall when it hasn't been beaten down by the relentless rains. A haircut in June will help it stay compact and upright. My major concern is that the soil has been too wet and it may rot away before it has a chance to settle in. Sunlight Garden says that the soil should be kept lean and mean. There's room to move and grow

I've frequently thought that C&L soil is mean, but, it may not be lean enough! Which may be to our benefit~~it appears to colonize in DRY, SANDY soils! One description says that it "occurs as scattered plants on better soils"(Forest Plants of The Southeast: Miller and Miller) We'll see, first it has to survive the wet weather Mother Nature has been throwing at it. Then it has to survive our wet winters! ~~The longitudinal studies aren't in yet! (edit: Nell Jean has a nice mention of it here)

Unfortunately, for regular readers residing north of us; Narrow Silkgrass appears to be a true native to the Southeastern States and up into the Ohio Valley. It would be pushing it to plant it in zones colder then 5.

My good friend, Frances (fairegarden) and I have spoken at great length about enthusiastic plants~~Physostegia virginiana and the native asters are excellent examples of enthusiastic, easy care plants that make beautiful swaths of color in the garden. It's possible that Narrowleaf Silk Plant will fit that description~
We can certainly hope!


Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light. Theodore Roethke


  1. Thanks for introducing this one, Gail. I do hope it can withstand this odd rainy season this fall. The thought of three foot tall yellow daisies at this time of year sounds perfect with all the blue and white asters. Thanks for the link love. Miss you already.

  2. Very pretty! Good luck with it.

  3. Grass with composite flowers. I find this very intrigueing. I have never seen this grass before. The blue eyed grass that the Austinites grow lasted one winter here. Hmmmm I might try this Narrow leaf silk grass. I like the name of it as it is very descriptive. I like silk almost anything.

  4. I have seen this plant before, never gave it a lot of thought. Will be interested to see how it fares at C & L..

  5. Gail,
    Your garden is so lovely!
    The Silk Grass sounds pretty tough.Maybe I can try this one.

  6. Dear Gail....a very pretty wildflower. To bloom into October, in my mind, is a definate advantage. It always surprises me how tough natives are....but then they have been around for a long time and learnt to live with all that Mother Nature throws at them. I think your little plant will be a winner.......

  7. Gail, I think that we might have that growing here and there. If it is a wildflower, then maybe we do.

    We can grow blue eyed grass without difficulty here, and we get a lot of rain.

    Love that you are introducing us to new plants. I am feeling a little bit out of the loop lately. No budget, equals no looking.


  8. Hi Gail, very pretty. Don't think I've seen it in my area. I'm a little worried about all this rain too. I have collected so many drought tolerant plants over the years. They are not going to like this wet fall. I would hate to lose my big agastaches.

  9. imho it's not possible to have too many of those darned yellow composites! :) The flowers are lovely with those waterdrops. Your garden looks just beautiful! What is the tree(?) with the bright red leaves? A Japanese Maple? It looks especially beautiful with the Blood Grass.

  10. cool little plant. I had never heard of it.

    I also love the shot of Tootsies chalkboard. I have been to Nashville(to Tootsies too) once. What a place!

  11. Very neat plant. Hopefully it will survive the rains. I'm beginning to wonder if Tennessee gardeners should start to forsake drought tolerant plants in favor of aquatics!

  12. Marnie, I am worried about the plants here, too. I've made a point of getting drought tolerant plants and native plants that grow in wet winters and dry summers...This is way more rain then most of these guys are used to growing in~~We'll see!

    Sweetbay, I totally agree with you! i love the composites...I should have referenced the person who said that! The tree is actually Hibiscus acetosella...It might survive your winters...but i expect it to croak here!

    Dave, There has been so much rain that two plants showed up in a container...don't ask me how they arrived...both are aquatic plants. I think the seeds must have been in the soil mixture from the grower and all the water caused them to germinate! Ones a pickeral plant!

    flowergirl1, I am so glad you noticed that sign. Tootsies is quite a unique experience!

    Muddy, If I could get plants to you and through customs...I would send them! Do you have a post office box in the US!


  13. Lovely photos, your garden seems to still be so colourful and no doubt as soon as it's sunny you'll be out enjoying every minute of it! :)

  14. I wish you much success with this lovely plant, Gail! I'm always looking for something to add some fall color, which is sadly lacking in my garden. Too bad this one won't grow in zone 5. I think a cheery yellow like this would be a welcome spot of color in autumn. But then next year I will have some magnificent asters, won't I?:)

  15. A lovely little plant - here's hoping it survives the rains.

  16. The Susan's bed is delightful just as I like a garden to be not too manicured but full of interesting plants looking so natural.

  17. Any plant that is 'enthusiastic and easycare' is a winner :)

  18. What a bright yellow bloom. To say that the Physostegia virginiana is an enthusiastic plant is most kind. Vigorous? I think that may be closer to how it is in our area!

  19. Silk grass grows wild here along roadsides and in open areas in the meadows, mostly on high ground. The soil is sandy here, so I can't address other soils.

    Tomorrow I'll have Silk Grass photos on my Bloom Day post. The flowers are hardly noticeable unless there is a great clump of the grass. The grass is very prominent because of the glaucous color.

    My husband's aunt called it 'Fever Grass' but I've not seen it in any herbals.

  20. What a beauty! I've not heard of it, so thank you for the introduction.


  21. nell jean, I knew I had seen it on a blog recently~~I couldn't remember where or i would have linked to you...It seems a perfect plant for Florida! gail

  22. That is a pretty little yellow flower. I've noticed the yellow flowers on the side of the road. I guess them to be Susan's.
    I have something growing in my Asparagus garden that is wild but I don't know what it is.It has a small daisy looking flower. I will have to research to see what it is. I also just discovered some type of grass that I'll have to ID.
    I love the Blood Grass with the yellow.

  23. Gail,
    I love Pityopsis graminifolia - a mouthful for a lovely plant! It probably does like lean dry soil the best - mine have been doing fine in the hot afternoon meadow. Some of our natives are more adaptable than others, to be sure.


  24. Such a sweet little plant. Thanks for introducing me to it. -Jackie

  25. Gail, any plant that blooms this late is a must have. So glad it seems to be doing well in your garden. if it doesn't survive the winter, you will know what to look for early next spring and maybe then it will have a chance to settle in before winter. Lovely photos-as always. :)

  26. I like yellow and wonder what an all yellow garden would look like as there are so many shades.

    I learn something every time I come to your gardens and do enjoy that about you. You have to remember Gail--all wildflowers want to thrive in your gardens--this one will to probably in spite of the wet...I bet.

  27. What a pretty grass. I just read about silk grass recently, I think in a garden magazine. I didn't realize it had those pretty yellow flowers. I bet it will love living in your garden.

  28. With those fans of leaves I expect an Iris sort of flower, not a daisy. Does it have any relatives in its family?


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson