Scutellaria incana does have characteristic mint family square stems and opposite leaves. The stems are covered with fine white hairs, thus downy in the common name. It starts blooming in July in my mid south zone 7a garden/habitat. I don't usually remember to deadhead (I don't want to risk losing the seedheads), but, I have read that it will often rebloom. In the wild it's seen in open
woods, slopes and along streams. Well drained soil, either moist or dry, seems to be its preferred growing condition, but it does tolerate sandy, clay, and poor soils. Once established it's tolerant of heat and drought. Which makes this gardener very happy, since we usually have a long hot, dry summer.
|fused upper petals form the hood of monkshood|
The numerous blooms are held in racemes at both the top of the stems and in the upper axils. Flowers are the perfect size for bumbles and small bees (which climb into the flower looking for nectar and pollen). The lavender-blue flowers have white markings on the lower petals and the two upper petals are fused together to form a hood or cap, thus the common name skullcap.
If you're looking for it on a woodland walk watch for the opposite leaves that are mat green, edged with rounded teeth. The leaves are not tiny at 4-1/2 to five inches in length by about two inches
in width. Don't forget to look for the white hairs on the square stems. If it's in flower the fabulous hooded flowers will be easy to spot.
|aren't they fabulous|
After bloom the cool and decorative seedheads will grab your attention. "In fact, it is the interesting, curved structure of the seed capsule that gives this species the name Scutellaria, which is derived from the Latin word scutella, meaning "saucer or shallow dish." Additionally, the common name "skullcap" comes from the resemblance of the calyx to a miniature helmet or cap." (source)
Good companion plants in my garden/habitat are Echinacea purpurea, almost any of the ex-Asters, Blephilia ciliata, Spigelia marilandica, and native ferns. It's happy underneath Hydrangea arborescens species and cultivars.
You might consider planting it with Coreopsis, Rudbeckia hirta and Asclepia tuberosa for a brilliant display. The bees will be ecstatic. You will, too.
I love everything about this plant. It's easy to
grow, the long bloom time, the incredibly pretty lavender hooded flowers
and the developing seedheads. It's charming. The only problem is that
it's not sold in most nurseries. You can find it on line or at a native plant nursery near you. If you're in middle Tennessee call GroWild Native Plant Nursery to see if it's available.
Reasons to search it out
- It thrives in a range of soil types and light levels
- Hardy to zone 5
- Reliable bloomer and should rebloom if dead headed
- Long lived
- Great looking flowers that attract bumbles and smaller bees
- Super cool seedpods
- Seems disease resistant
Thank you for stopping by and 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 link when you comment I am not using Mr. Linky at this time.
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.