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

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday: Hardy Blue Mist Flower

Timing is everything in a wildflower garden.
Right as I'm wondering if the garden has too much of a yellow scene going on Conoclinium coelestinum or Blue Mist flower begins its long bloom time. The soft-blue, fuzzy flowers are a perfect color counterpoint to the Susan's golden presence. 
I removed too much of it when I expanded the agastache and coreopsis presence in the garden~I'll fix it!
Many gardeners under appreciate the charms of Hardy Ageratum. They consider it too weedy and aggressive for their gardens, until it blooms and then they, like me, begin wondering why the heck they haven't more of it!
I love the small, soft-blue, fuzzy flowers that begin blooming in late August

Conoclinium coelestinum is a tall, graceful, eastern North American native wildflower that begins blooming in late August (Middle South) and continues through early fall. The lilac-blue flowers add a softness to late  summer and fall gardens when rough and tumble flowers like the Susans, Goldenrods, Cup Plant, Verbesinas, Joe-Pye weeds and Ironweeds are making a large and loud scene. It's especially beautiful when allowed to naturalize and make its own big statement.

There's the rub, you have to be willing to let this plant do its thing to get the big effect of it's lovely misty presence. That means living with the rough, but not unattractive leaves until the summer wains and the blooming begins.
 flat topped flower clusters top the attractive red stems make great cut flowers
The tall red stems are place holders while you're waiting and trust me the wait is worth it.
Doesn't it look smashing with the gold flowers of Gaillardia? You can use it anywhere. I like it with the Rudbeckias, Coreopsis, the ex-asters and I'm thinking that it would be nice with grasses or edging the woodland garden. The possibilities are endless...except extremely dry soil.
A nectar rich plant
Butterflies and bees are drawn to the nectar-rich flowers, while birds eat the seeds. If you want more, and once you see it massed you will, it's easily propagated from seeds, cuttings, rootball divisions or layering. It thrives best in a well-drained acidic to neutral soils in a sunny environment. If you want easy care this is a great wildflower, but, it does naturalize easily spreading by rhizome and seed (and is pulled out just as easily).
compact corymbs or clusters  with up to 70 flowers per cluster
Whether it's a bluish purple flower or a purplish blue flower~It a lovely plant for a natural garden and by late summer forms a open mound about 2 feet tall (a little taller in shade). But, don't rule it out for your more formal gardens, cut it back by half in early summer and you'll have a nice clump by early fall. Those tall red stems keep it from sprawling and looking messy. 
Someone wrote that its the perfect color for the low light of the autumn sun. I think so, too.
I've used words like naturalizing, rhizome spread, messy, and rough and tumble, but, please, don't be afraid of this plant...It's a beauty and you won't regret adding it to your wildflower garden.


Here's the particulars!

Moist soil; sun to partial shade; found in moist woods, thickets, and along stream banks from New Jersey, west to Wisconsin and Kansas, and south to Texas and Florida.

Attracts Wildlife
Beneficial insects
Butterflies~A great nectar source but, not a host plant.

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.


  1. Great post, beautiful images:) Greetings

  2. Hello Gail,
    You are so right - the yellow and purple are fantastic together!
    Happy Wildflower Wednesday!
    Lea's Menagerie

  3. Dear Gail, this is the perfect fall wildflower, thanks for showcasing it so beautifully. You always do such a good PR job with these underappreciated native plants. Our patches of it are not blooming yet so I will enjoy yours. They do look splendid with the yellows.

  4. Gail I adore this plant and wonder why I don't have it...so I will look for it to plant this fall. I adore the foliage as well and I love to let plants naturalize in the back gardens and meadow. Sounds like a perfect match. Thanks for telling us about this plant and for hosting WW.

  5. The mist would be welcome in my garden but, believe it or not, I haven't been able to get it going. Strange isn't it? Happy WW.

  6. I was gifted a start last month. It is blooming now. I hope it proves as vigorous here as you say it can be. There's no room for the timid in my gardens.

  7. I grow Gregg's Mist Flower, C. greggii, and it can be assertive, tis true. You remind me of why that is a good thing!

  8. It can be a bit thuggish in my garden and must really be ruthless in the spring when it starts to appear everywhere....but in a month from now when it starts to bloom, I forgive it everything. And as you've shown if you've got it paired with yellow, it would be the perfect excuse to have a Provence Day in the garden - complete with wine and delicious summer food.

  9. I'm not familiar with this wildflower (I have to check its hardiness zone; I have a feeling it doesn't grow here), but I really love the way it looks! It's particularly striking against the yellow gaillardia.

    Sheryl @ Flowery Prose

  10. Really lovely, Gail! I'm not sure it would thrive in our dry shade, but I do love these fuzzy little buttons!

  11. I always enjoy your photos, Gail! I'm trying to remember where we lived when I had that plant, and it did spread farther than I wanted it to. Maybe I should try it again if it stays pulled. I do have way too much yellow right now. I wonder if it would grow in a tub.

  12. I love the Mistflower and yes, the butterflies adore it. Just came across your blog. Beautiful photos!!

  13. Nice feature on an important plant in the native garden. Blue and yellow is a pretty combination.

    I grow Gregg's mistflower with much success in hot, dry south Texas. It has plenty of room in my garden should be setting a third bloom of the season just as the butterflies begin their migration.

  14. I love mist flower. I have both the blue and the white varieties in my garden and both are great favorites of butterflies and of mine.

  15. What a perfect companion for the Susans!

  16. I have tried growing misflower but unsuccessfully due to insufficient moisture. It is beautiful, and of course I love any blue flower!

  17. I know I've admired this plant on your posts before, but why I still haven't tried planting any here is a mystery to me:) I'm always on the lookout for new blooms in August! Beautiful images, and oh my, the butterflies! They're scarce here this year, so I'm delighted to see them fluttering about in your garden, Gail.

  18. I wish I could find it for sale somewhere locally...I've literally NEVER seen it for sale here in PDX! Then again...where would I put it!

  19. I will search out this plant for our bees. Might be too dry here though. Thanks.

  20. It's beautiful--especially with the yellow of the Rudbeckia, as you mention. Obviously a butterfly attracter, too. Thanks for hosting!

  21. this came up as a mystery flower on Google Plus, and you bring me the answer

  22. I use a lot of cultivated Ageratum in my gardens; have not seen it wild. It does look particularly nice against the yellow-oranges of the coreopsis and black-eyed Susans!

  23. Your photos are so lovely, I am in major plant lust. I ordered mist flower this spring and it failed to grow. But 5 tiny seedlings sprouted up in the pot, and are now 6" tall, and I planted them out, and expect a replacement in the fall as well, so maybe next year I will get to see them bloom. We have nearly no summer rain here in the PNW but I planted a couple by my leaky hose bib so maybe they will like it there. I am featuring Oceanspray.

  24. I used to have this one in VA. Did you know it was salt tolerant? We had it longer than most after all the flooding.

  25. It really looks beautiful with the Gaillardia.

  26. I keep hoping Blue Mist will turn up here. It grows in the roadside ditches in the next county where there is more red clay, never see it here in loamy sand.

    We do have Boneset, which I included in my post.

  27. I'm very interested to use it in the garden,as blues are prevalent in my garden. Thanks for sharing the meme.

  28. We have the blue mistflower growing in the wild here but I did buy a couple of from the greenhouse. They are annuals but tend to grow well here but not as lovely as yours. Thanks for posting.

  29. I have this and it looks nothing like yours...the leaves have holes from insect damage and while many of the flowers are blooming, they just don't look 'perky' and lush, like I would expect. It's right down in an area near joe pye, agastache, goldenrod, penstamon, rudbeckia...so has the same environmental conditions but it just seems out of place. In fact, mine IS actually kind of messy looking. I will surely keep it and hope that next summer/fall it will look a bit better. I planted it last fall so this is its first season in bloom. Your photos are gorgeous ;)

    1. I wonder if you have Fleischmannia incarnata it's a close relative but rather sprawly.

  30. Hi Gail, Happy New Year! FYI, just wanted to let you know that I've added some blue mistflower to my garden and gave you credit on my blog for persuading me to give this plant a try! http://www.gardenofaaron.com/2016/01/class-of-2016-conoclinium-coelestinum.html


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