When referencing my front yard’s native grass and wildflower planting, I irreverently and affectionately call it my weed patch. I’ll address the irreverent part in a later blog.
This summer marks the fourth growing season of my weed patch. As the old saying about perennial development goes, “The first year, they sleep. The second year, they creep. The third year, they leap.” This fourth year, I am enjoying new plant friends in the garden who have been a bit shy up to this point.
Lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia fulgida var. fulgida), purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), mountain mint (Pycnanthemum spp.), and narrow-leaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) arrived during the first three growing years. This year, blazing star (Liatris spicata) and rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium) joined the party.
Blazing star is a clump-forming, native perennial in the Asteraceae family. Plants grow three to six feet tall. Fluffy purple, pink, or white flowers develop from the top down on spikes held above grass-like foliage in early to mid-summer. Blazing star prefers average to moist, well-drained soil under full to partial sunlight. It tolerates summer heat and humidity and poor soil. Plants can be grown from seed but are slow to establish. Butterflies, beneficial bees and wasps, hummingbirds, and songbirds use blazing star as a food source.
Rattlesnake master recalls images of its feared reptile namesake. However, there is no reason to fear this plant. The name is derived from its past use by Native Americans to treat snake bites. Rattlesnake master is a perennial in the Apiaceae family. It produces white, thistle-like flowers held above gray-green, yucca-like foliage in summer; some variations have blue flowers. This perennial does best in full sun in average, well-drained soil. Rattlesnake master gets four to five feet tall and two to three feet wide. Beneficial bees, wasps, and butterflies are attracted to the flowers.
For more information about growing perennials, visit HGIC 1153, Growing Perennials. Visit Native Plants for Wildlife: Resources for Home Gardeners for more information on finding native plants for South Carolina yards.