Perennial flowering plants series: Veronicastrum virginicum
Figwort family (Bowman’s Root, Culver’s physic, Blackroot, Culver’s root)
This eastern U.S. native is great for the back of the border, one of the best perennial flowering plants for our region. Blooming for 6-8 weeks in July & August, it lends a graceful quality to the garden at a time when coarseness abounds. Usually the flower is white, but I have seen them in lilac, soft pink and hot pink. These are tough upright plants with a straight stature. They require little or no staking. The ovoid leaves are whorled around the rigid main stem; which terminates in several spikes of honey scented densely clustered flowers. People have likened the flower spikes to candelabras. I like to plant Veronicastrum near other tall late bloomers like cimicifuga (Actea racemosa), especially black leaved cultivars, and pink fall blooming anemone. Simply Fabulous!
The virtues of this native plant are many. The stem makes a long lasting cut flower. The nectar is favored by butterflies, and pollinator insects; the spike is a busy blur of activity while in bloom. The seeds are beloved by finches and game birds, so even after bloom is gone, visitors are frequent. Usually, I leave my spent stems standing until spring so I can enjoy watching what comes by to feed. This is an easy and tough plant for the garden. It was little used by most gardeners here in the U.S., but in Europe this plant is a “must have”. It always strikes me as funny that our native plants, until recently, have been historically ignored for gardens here in the states, yet coveted by gardeners overseas!
Exposure: full sun to part shade
Height: 48- 60 Inches
Spread: 30 Inches
Hardiness Zone: 4-8