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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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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