Grow Native!:Indian Pink Should Be on Your Radar

Flying under the radar for many people, Indian Pink, or Spigelia marilandica is coming into its own. A long-lived perennial that brings stunning colors to the summer garden, hummingbirds flock to these red and yellow tubular flowers arranged in clusters. Similar to firecrackers exploding in the garden, this unique native plant stops people in their tracks when they see it in my garden.

Spigelia looks a little like firecrackers
Well grown clump of Indian Pink

Flowering in early summer, and then sporadically through the remainder of the growing season, Indian Pinks are highly sought after at perennial nurseries and they have trouble keeping them in stock. In fact many of the nurseries I talked to ship them to British clients instead of US, because they are mad for them! A southeastern US native hardy to zone 5b, it has been planted as a novelty, but is now reaching mainstream status.

A great companion to ferns

Emerging in the spring, the plant can grow quickly to hold more than 75 of those colorful tubular (perfect for hummers) flowers that catch your eye as soon as you look at the garden.

The combination of yellow and red is striking
The common name of Indian Pink refers to its medicinal properties. The dried roots are used as a hallucinogen and a de-wormer, nothing to fool around with! Use it horticulturally and not medicinally.
I grow my spigelia in mostly full sun, though all the culture information I see on line is that it liked partial shade to shade. I have grown it for about 5 years in full sun and have been very successful with it. The ones that I planted in partial shade haven’t been as floriferous.
Planted in shade, the flowers don’t make a great show

 

Picture from Walters Gardens of ‘Little Redhead’
Highly sought after by wildflower enthusiasts, I think that everyone should include this great native in their garden to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. A new cultivar called ‘Little Redhead’ is now available which is reported to be much more compact and packed with flowers from Walters Gardens and is available at nurseries now. I am trialing the plant and will let you know how it performs for me next season. Stay tuned! Check out Walters Garden website for other new releases.
Walters Gardens describes their new selection of ‘Little Redhead’:

Spigelia is underutilized in the landscape due to limited availability, but it’s poised to make an explosion in popularity. Why? It’s a very versatile perennial-it grows naturally in either sun or shade. This perennial can be found growing in the wild in woodlands and along streambanks throughout the Eastern United States. It’s wildly popular among wildflower enthusiasts and highly sought after.

‘Little Redhead’ is a superior selection of the species, vegetatively propagated to ensure uniformity. Dark red tubular flowers with yellow interiors are produced above top of an upright clump of dark green, wedge-shaped leaves. Everyone who has seen this variety has loved it. This genus requires good drainage to thrive, so do not plant in areas with standing water.

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