Senna hebecarpa – Wild Senna
Senna hebecarpa – Wild Senna

Host Plant – Sulphur, Clouded Sulphur, Orange Sulphur

Wild Senna is a versatile plant that we think deserves more recognition as a great choice for garden or restoration projects. Its lovely, bright yellow flowers bloom July-August, attracting many bees and butterflies. Autumn brings beautiful leaf colors and the formation of long black pods with seeds favored by larger birds like wild turkeys. A horizontal root system provides strength against winds, allowing the plant’s stately (4-6′) beauty to be appreciated even after the storm. Some gardeners use this sun-loving plant to form a hedge.

It is virtually indistinguishable from its relative, Maryland Senna (Senna marilandica) until the two species have ripe seeds. The Wild Senna will readily open its pod and the seeds will fall out, whereas the Maryland Senna seed pods will stay tightly closed.  Other than this, it is very hard to tell the two species apart.

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Solidago sphacelata – ‘Golden Fleece’ Dwarf Goldenrod
Solidago sphacelata – ‘Golden Fleece’ Dwarf Goldenrod

Another fantastic Mt. Cuba introduction. A stunning show of sprays of golden yellow flowers from mid-August through September. Semievergreen heart-shaped leaves. Truly an excellent groundcover and bee and butterfly charmer! Hairstreaks, sulphurs and skippers are particularly attracted to goldenrod. Monarchs visit it during their autumn migration.

Goldenrod Interesting Notes
Golden Fleece autumn goldenrod was discovered in 1985 as a spontaneous garden seedling in Eden, North Carolina. It was evaluated under diverse conditions at Mt. Cuba Center and determined to be a low-growing, compact form of the species suitable for use as an herbaceous perennial groundcover only reaching 18” tall. Multi-branched stems arise from basal rosettes of broadly rounded foliage and are covered with a profusion of golden-yellow floral spires from mid-September to October. It performs best in full sun with average moisture but is tolerant of a range of conditions from sunny and dry to partial shade. 'Golden Fleece' is hardy in zones 3-8. It won the Internationale Stauden-Union’s Award for an outstanding new plant in Switzerland in 1994. – Mt. Cuba Center

In many of the gardens I design, I use goldenrod to give late summer and fall gardens just the right autumnal color. Luckily for urban dwellers with limited gardening space, goldenrod also can be grown quite successfully in a container. Beautiful in the garden, goldenrod does double-duty as a long-lived cut flower. In Europe, where goldenrod has long been shown the appreciation it deserves, it is sold by the bunch, and gardening catalogs offer more cultivars than are available in the States.

Solidago sphacelata 'Golden Fleece' Growing and Maintenance Tips

Native to calcarous woodlands and rocky pastures from Virginia to Illinois south to Kentucky and Georgia. Prefers somewhat fertile, sandy, well-drained soils in full sun. Propagate by seed or division every 3-4 years. Cut back to encourage rebloom. Used in butterfly and wild gardens or as a groundcover or border perennial.

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Spigelia marilandica – Indian Pink
Spigelia marilandica – Indian Pink

Indian pink or woodland pinkroot

One of the most striking and beautiful of our native perennials, Indian pink’s summer flowers are brilliant red and tubular with canary yellow throats. A very hardy plant, though it is best planted by the end of July for reliable success in gardens and containers. A favorite of butterflies and hummingbirds, it is at home in the bright woodland or shaded border.

Indian pink Interesting Notes

Indian pink is a long-lived perennial that brings stunning color to the summer garden. Vivid red tubular flowers borne in terminal clusters open to expose a chartreuse yellow interior, reminiscent of a firecracker exploding. This perennial produces its primary display in early summer and flowers sporadically through the remainder of the growing season. It can grow to nearly 2’ tall and wide. Indian pink is an adaptable species, but does prefer neutral, well-drained soils to develop its best displays. The bright flowers attract hummingbirds and brighten the woodland edge or perennial border. Spigelia marilandica combines well with Dryopteris intermediaChrysogonum virginianumLilium superbum, and Aquilegia canadensis. – Mt. Cuba Center

If this isn’t the region’s most beautiful native, then I don’t know who is…any votes for Elvis or Dolly? This exquisite woodland perennial makes a dainty-looking 12″ wide clump of 2′ tall stalks clothed with nondescript green foliage. In late spring, Spigelia marilandica clumps are topped with dozens of stalks of spectacular up-facing, bright red, tubular flowers with a dramatically contrasting, yellow center…a hummingbird favorite. Spigelia marilandica, which improves with age, is a true garden show-stopper! We have found that it grows equally well in full sun or light shade, as well as in very moist or bone-dry soils. – Plant Delights Nursery

Although called Indian Pink, this plant, Spigelia marilandica, actually has tubular flowers that are bright crimson with a bright yellow lining. It is under-used by hummingbird gardeners but is an excellent plant for a yard with tall established trees that cast light shade beneath them. Indian Pink comes up quite late in the spring, so mark the planting spot to avoid accidentally over-planting it. It is a low-growing plant the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds find easily as they scout the landscape for food sources. – Operation RubyThroat

Folklore: Used by the Cherokee and other Native American tribes as a ritual and ceremonial herb to induce visions and foretell the future.

Spigelia marilandica Growing and Maintenance Tips

Grow in partial to full shade in rich soil with high organic content. A very hardy plant, though it is best planted by the end of July for reliable success in gardens and containers. Prefers not to be transplanted once established.

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Spiraea tomentosa – Steeplebush
Spiraea tomentosa – Steeplebush

Pink spikes of flowers mid to late summer make Steeplebush a popular species.  It grows best in moist acidic soils in full sun.  Slow rhizomatous roots help this beautiful plant to spread.

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Viburnum dentatum – Arrowwood Viburnum
Viburnum dentatum – Arrowwood Viburnum

Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prune immediately after flowering since flower buds form in summer for the following year.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Arrowwood viburnum is an upright, rounded, multi-stemmed, deciduous shrub which typically matures to 6-10′ tall with a similar spread, but may reach a height of 15′ in optimum growing conditions. Non-fragrant white flowers in flat-topped corymbs (to 4″ diameter) appear in late spring. Flowers give way to blue-black, berry-like drupes which are quite attractive to birds and wildlife. Ovate, toothed, glossy dark green leaves (to 4″ long). Variable fall color ranges from drab yellow to attractive shades of orange and red. Although widespread in eastern North America, this native plant is only known to exist in the wild in Missouri on wooded slopes along the Salt River in Shelby County. Native Americans reportedly used the straight stems of this shrub for arrow shafts, hence the common name.

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems.

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Zizia aurea – Golden Alexanders
Zizia aurea – Golden Alexanders

Zizia aurea is one of those natives that every garden should have. It is fairly easy to grow and, although short-lived, will self-seed and persist in many sun/soil situations. Zizia is an important plant to a number of short-tongued insects that are able to easily reach the nectar in the small yellow flowers. Black Swallowtail caterpillars will feed on its leaves.

Golden Alexanders have a long bloom time, giving the garden/prairie some well-deserved early color for several weeks in late spring to early summer when many other plants have not yet flowered.  Also called Golden Zizia, Golden Alexanders will tolerate a lot of shade but prefer full sun or light shade.

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