Orange Coneflower

June 3rd, 2020

Rudbeckia fulgida

The orange coneflower is an herbaceous perennial plant with many excellent features for home gardens.  It is correctly placed in the Aster family since it has both ray and disk flowers. The ray flowers are on the outside of the “flower” and are what we used to pull off when playing “He loves me, he loves me not.”  The disk flowers are in the center and are where, for example, our sunflower seeds come from.

physical description

This plant achieves a mature height of about 3 feet and a diameter of approximately 2-1/2 feet.  It is a native to the southeastern United States and is found in Hardiness Zones 3 through 9, thus, it is a perfect fit for the Chattanooga area.  In addition, it is very forgiving as to its growth environment.  After having been in the ground for a few years, this species will expand its area by underground stems or rhizomes, however it is not considered invasive.

habitat

The orange coneflower is best found in moist, rich soils and full sun.  It blooms from June through October and usually is full of 2-1/2 inch bright orange/yellow flowers.  

images

uses

This plant makes a remarkable statement in the naturalized or the rain garden.  In addition, it is often used for cut flowers and for dried flowers.

interesting information

Perhaps the greatest beneficial trait of this species is that it is low maintenance.  Thus, when placed in a suitable habitat, you can forget about it until it rewards you with its many flowers.

This species also attracts pollinating insects, including butterflies, and will provide lots of time to closely examine these insects.

The difference between sweet coneflower and the orange coneflower is that the sweet coneflower is in the genus Echinacea with petals that bend backwards at maturity while the orange coneflower is in the Rudbeckia genus and its petals extend straight out of the flower at maturity.

Removing the spent flower heads (referred to as dead-heading) will prolong the blooming of this species.  If not dead-headed in the late autumn, this plant will provide seeds for several species of small birds, e.g., chickadees, cardinals, and finches.

Once it has become established in its environment, this species will become more tolerant of drought conditions.

About the Author

Charlie Belin is a retired professor and biological oceanographer. He taught five courses in the University of Georgia system for many years from his home base in Savannah, Georgia.

Charlie loves hiking at Reflection Riding, teaching children about the ecology of the area, and interacting with the Reflection Riding staff. They are GREAT!

shop for native plants!

We're currently providing free delivery over $300 or pick-up options. Your purchase supports our mission to reconnect people with nature. Members save 10% on all plant sales.

Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

Cardinal Flower

May 29th, 2020

Lobelia cardinalis

The Lobelia cardinalis, commonly known as the cardinal flower, thrives in the Chattanooga area. It is best to plant them in the spring or fall. The easiest way to grow cardinal flowers from seed is to just allow the flowers to develop seeds in the fall and then drop them around the plant. 


physical description

This plant has a bright red color, named after the color of a Roman Catholic cardinal’s robe.  They generally bloom in the summer (and sometimes into the fall) and generally grow to be about 3-4 feet tall. These are short-lived perennial plants that tend to live for 3-4 years. The plants readily reseed themselves giving them the appearance of having a longer life.  

habitat

The cardinal flower does well in the USDA plant hardiness zones 1-10. They can be found as far north as Canada and as far south as Colombia. It prefers wet soil, often growing along streams and ponds in nature. They do not grow well in mulch. These flowers need to be separated by 1 or 2 inches when planting to allow for optimal growth. They will grow best with some morning sun and afternoon shade. They need to be watered one or twice a week in the absence of rain. A layer of mulch around the soil, about 2-3 inches, will help hold in moisture.

images

uses

They do not attract many insects as it is difficult for them to navigate the trumpet like shape of the flower, but this plant is great for attracting hummingbirds that love the nectar provided by these flowers.

interesting information

Native Americans historically used the roots of the cardinal flower to make a tea for stomachache, syphilis, typhoid, worms, and love potions. However, this practice has since ended due to the plant's toxic properties.

shop for native plants!

We're currently providing free delivery over $300 or pick-up options. Your purchase supports our mission to reconnect people with nature. Members save 10% on all plant sales.

Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Bess Turner  | Category: native plants

Red Chokeberry

May 21st, 2020

(Aronia arbutifolia)

The red chokeberry is a tall plant with striking, white flowers and red berries that add color to anyone’s gardens.  This member of the Rose family of plants is a perennial shrub (identified by multiple stems whereas a tree has only one stem) that was originally native to the Chicago area, but is now designated native to the eastern half of the United States.  As such it is hardy in the winter here in Chattanooga and is found all the way south to Hardiness Zone 4.

physical description

This large, hardy shrub achieves a height of approximately 10 feet tall, extends 3 to 5 feet in diameter, prefers moist soils, and can live in slightly acidic soils to alkaline soils.  It is a dependable garden plant that has something to offer in three of our four seasons; spring, summer and autumn.  The red chokeberry flowers in the late spring and needs pruning after the flowering to reduce the number of suckers it produces during the growing season.  The leaves are arranged on the stem in an alternate pattern and are approximately 2-1/2 inches long.  They are dark green in color, oval in shape, with a leaf margin that is finely toothed.  During the autumn the red berries add interest to any garden.

habitat

The red chokeberry generally prefers moist soils and thus is a good garden candidate for the edges of water or rain gardens.  The red chokeberry prefers full sun to partial sun.  

images

uses

The red chokeberry is often used as a hedge and allowed to ramble laterally.  It will easily naturalize to nearly any garden area.  Group or mass the red chokeberry in shrub borders or woodland areas.  It has the ability to withstand wet conditions which makes it suitable for growing on the margins of ponds or streams. The red chokeberry is also effective in naturalized areas where its suckering and colonial growth habit does not need to be restrained.  This is a good native plant with multi-season ornamental interest.

interesting information

This plant would be good for the back of a garden area since the bases of the stems have little vegetation on them.  

This plant has no disease or insect problems.

The bright red berries are eaten by several bird species in the late autumn and winter.

The common name of this plant refers to the tart and bitter berries which are technically edible but are so sour as to cause choking in those who try them.


shop for native plants!

We're currently providing free delivery over $300 or pick-up options. Your purchase supports our mission to reconnect people with nature. Members save 10% on all plant sales.

Planting native helps restore the natural habitat required for beautiful birds, butterflies and other insects to thrive. Plus, native plants are supposed to be here, so they're often more tolerant of neglect, poor soil, and draught.

Posted by Charlie Belin  | Category: native plants

Share this page