Swamp Rose Mallow

September 24th, 2020

Hibiscus grandiflorasalso Hibiscus muscheutos

This perennial is a member of the Mallow (Malvaceae) family, which includes herbs, shrubs, and small trees. There are over 85 genera and 1500 species in this family, some of which are okra (edible), cotton (for apparel), and Rose of Sharron (ornamentals).

physical description

The swamp rose mallow can attain a height of 6 feet with large, white or pink (6” – 10” in diameter) flowers. The 5 petals have red to purple centers and numerous stamens. The leaves appear in alternate configuration on the main stem; the leaves themselves are heart-shaped, with a toothed, three-lobed appearance. This species blooms from March through August.

habitat

The swamp rose mallow is found in wet to moist areas often near ditches and other open moist spaces. It requires at least partial shade and wet soils. Originally found only in Florida and Georgia westward to southern Mississippi, the swamp rose mallow, due to human distribution, now is found in many eastern states in the southern and mid-Atlantic areas.

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uses

This species can be used as a specimen plant, especially with its showy large flowers.

It does well in a wet area of the garden and can also function in a moist border location.

interesting information

Our confection, marshmallows, was originally derived from the roots of the marsh mallow or swamp mallow. They were mashed, boiled in water until thick, and then eaten.  Our current confection tastes nothing like marsh mallow.

This plant attracts many different species of bees, particularly as pollinators.

The swamp rose mallow cannot stand drought or near-drought conditions.

The flowers of this plant only last one day, but being so conspicuous, they are a wonderful addition to the garden.

The seeds from the dried flowers can be collected, stored in dry conditions in an envelope over the winter, and then planted in a greenhouse or near a window. They grow to flowering age in 4 – 5 months.

The swamp rose mallow is grown and available in the arboretum of the Reflection Riding Arboretum and Nature Center.

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!

Our nursery is open for in-person shopping! Come by Tuesday-Friday 9:30-4:00 and Saturday 8:00-1:00. 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

Impatiens capensis

Jewelweed is a common self-seeding native annual that grows widespread throughout North America. Named for its vibrant flowers, jewelweed sprouts inearly spring. Flowers bloom in mid-summer and continue until the first frost.

Hardy in Zones 2-11, it is well-suited for native plant gardeners, pollinator-friendly gardeners, and medicinal gardeners anywhere in the contiguous United States. Legend has it that European plant hunters in North America loved the flowers so much that they shipped seeds back home!

physical description

The orange-yellow flowers — sometimes peppered with red spots — distinguish this plant from other “touch-me-nots.” The flowers have five petals, though it may look like just three, and the “open mouth” offers a landing pad for many pollinating insects.

This species grows 2 to 5 feet in height. The leaves are green with a whitened underside and the shape is ovate with coarsely toothed margins and are usually 2 ½ to 3 inches long. They grow in an alternating pattern. The stems are smooth, upright, weak, and sometimes have a red tinge. After rain, the plant soaks up water and the stems become almost translucent.

Cross-pollination is required for the plant to produce its small, green fruit, which bursts open and spreads seed at the slightest touch; this is where it gets its nickname, “spotted touch-me-not.” Small flowers, which fertilize themselves without ever opening, may develop at the base of the plant in fall and produce small seeds.

habitat

Jewelweed prefers moist, semi-shady areas near streams and lakes and in disturbed areas such as ditches and roadsides. It has been shown to outcompete garlic mustard, a non-native invasive weed, and can be easily propagated by sowing seed directly in early fall.

In ideal conditions, jewelweed grows in dense stands and attracts bumblebees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

This species is moderately deer resistant. It is low maintenance and very easy to control or corral by pulling.

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All images licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

uses

Jewelweed doesn’t mind wet feet, so it makes a great addition to shady rain gardens or native plant gardens in partially-shaded areas with plenty of moisture. Because it is such a star at outcompeting other plants, it can be planted to suppress unwanted non-natives or fill in open areas. Once it is established, it will continue to return every year.

Jewelweed is well-documented as a medicinal plant among several Native American tribes, including the Cherokee. In modern-day folk and wilderness medicine, sap from the stem and leaves is applied topically to treat pain and/or itching from hives, poison ivy, insect bites, sunburn, and even unfortunate run-ins with stinging nettle.

protection status

Although conservation status is secure, humans are impacting the plant through destruction of wetland habitats, so it could become imperiled in the future. Help to maintain the security of Impatiens capensis by growing it on your
property and telling others about it!

interesting information

Jewelweed boasts a sugar content considerably higher than many other flowers favored by hummingbirds. In fact, the southbound migration of ruby-throated hummingbirds has been found to coincide with the availability of jewelweed’s
blooms.

The common eastern bumblebee AKA Bombus impatiens, considered one of the most important species of pollinator bees in North America, is named for one of its primary good sources: the genus Impatiens of which jewelweed is a member.

About the Author

Taylor Hinton-Ridling is a wildcrafter and native plant enthusiast in Chattanooga. She enjoys hiking and learning about plants, animals, and ecology at Reflection Riding.

shop for native plants!

Our nursery is open for in-person shopping! Come by Tuesday-Friday 9:30-4:00 and Saturday 8:00-1:00. 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

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.

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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!

Our nursery is open for in-person shopping! Come by Tuesday-Friday 9:30-4:00 and Saturday 8:00-1:00. 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

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