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.  

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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

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.  

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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

Joe Pye Weed

May 14th, 2020

(Eutrochium spp.)

Joe Pye Weed is an herbaceous, perennial native to much of the United States. It is a wildflower but also an herb that was used as a remedy to reduce fevers and other maladies. The plant goes by the common name Joe Pye Weed, in honor of a Native American herbalist.

physical description

This plant, a member of the Aster family, can attain a height of 5 – 7 feet and a diameter of 2 – 4 feet. In native settings it can become rather aggressive forcing out some other plants. The compound flowers are composed of 5 to 8 florets and bracts in dusty rose to mauve, giving the appearance of large clusters. The identifying characteristic for all of the Joe Pye Weeds is that the leaves are whorled, rather than found at opposite or alternate locations along the stem.

habitat

Habitat; This species grows well in full sun but prefers partial shade in order to do well. It prefers rich moist soil and can handle either acidic soil (pH = 5.5 to 6.5) neutral (pH = 7) or slightly alkaline soils (pH = 7.5 to 9). The various species of Joe Pye Weed live in Hardiness Zones 2 – 9 so it will do very well in the Chattanooga area. It usually blooms from July through September. This plant needs moist soils in order to flourish.

These species have no serious insect or disease problems; however, its leaves may scorch if soils are allowed to dry out. Powdery mildew and rust may also occur.

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uses

These species should be used in the garden where, first, there is abundant moisture in the soils, and second where the plants can easily spread out to provide a remarkable, visual impression. 

The Joe Pye Weeds can be a dramatic accent in the back of a garden with their great height.

Since these species attract small birds and butterflies, they provide humans with visual stimulation. In addition, they are a source of nectar and therefore, provide honey bees with the raw material to produce honey.

interesting information

In some plants, the leaves and flowers can give off a vanilla-like scent.

There are many species of the Joe Pye Weeds. The purple or reddish-purple flowered one has a species epithet of purpureus — obviously. The white one is referred to as “alba.” And so on.

The Joe Pye Weeds are best propagated by stem cuttings. They generally grow better in open woodland areas. The seeds from the drying flowerheads can be harvested and sown in the late autumn or early spring.

Many websites and books refer to Joe Pye as being a Native American medicine man from Salem, Massachusetts, who earned his fame from curing colonial settlers of typhus by using healing herb.

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

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