Thursday, June 23, 2011

Georgia Native Plants That Grow By Seed

Seed propagation can be handy for those that want to store up future gardens, those that want to start a seed swap in their neighborhoods, and those that just prefer the ease of planting seed versus layering, cuttings, or division of roots. These Georgia native plants are all lovely plants that are propagated by seed. The pink milkweed, the wideflower phlox, and the upright prairie coneflower are all shown with their planting and growing requirements.

Asclepias incarnata
Common Name: Pink Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: Growing 2 to 4 feet high, this plant has green narrow lance-like leaves and small flowers in clusters. Flowers are pink or purple and bloom between June and October. Stems are tall and branching. Seed pods are tan-brown.
Planting Guide: Asclepias incarnata prefers full sun or partial shade conditions with a wet or moist soil. It can tolerate clay soil. It also prefers slightly acidic or neutral soil pH.
Propagation: Pink milkweed is propagated by division and by seed. Divide in the spring on established plants or collect seed in October or November. Heat can help germinate the seed.
History: This plant was named for the Greek god of medicine, Aesculapius, mainly for its contributions to herbal medicine.
            It attracts hummingbirds and butterflies for its nectar. It is also a larval host and nectar source for the Monarch (Danaus plexippus) butterfly and the Queen (Danaus gilippus) butterfly.
Warnings: This plant is poisonous raw due to cardiac glycosides and resinoids. All parts are considered toxic.
            It may have an aphid problem and need spraying if the plant becomes sick-looking.
Distribution: Asclepias incarnata is found in AL, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TX, TN, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI, WY and DC.

Phlox latifolia
Common Name: Wideflower Phlox, Mountain Phlox
Synonyms: Phlox ovata
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: This small plant grows 4 to 6 inches tall with pink or rose flowers. Flowers are on the end of a stem and bloom from May to June. There are 3 leaf pairs on each flower stem.
Planting Guide: Phlox latifolia needs a shaded area and a rich slightly-acidic soil.
Propagation: Wideflower phlox is propagated by seed, cuttings and division. Divide in the fall or first part of spring, use cuttings in the late summer season, and plant seed as soon as it is ripe or in the spring.
History: It does creep well and make a good ground cover.
Warnings: There are no known issues with this plant.
Distribution: Phlox latifolia is found in AL, GA, IN, KY, MD, MA, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA and WV.

Ratibida columnifera
Common Name: Upright Prairie Coneflower, Mexican Hat, Prairie Coneflower, Red-spike Mexican-hat, Thimbleflower, Long-headed Coneflower
Synonyms: Ratibida columnaris
Lifespan: Perennial
Description: A deciduous plant, this is a fast growing plant with strong smelling foliage. Flowers are yellow or reddish brown and on long stalks. It will grow up to 3 feet high. It looks like a sombrero to many gardeners. Blooms will be in season from May through October. Feathery leaves adorn the lower leaves of the stem.
Planting Guide: Ratibida columnifera should be planted in sunny locations and in moist or dry neutral soil. Soil should be well-drained. It tolerates drought and clay soils.
Propagation: Upright prairie coneflower is propagated by seed that has been stratified in cold for 9 weeks. Fall sowing of seed is preferred but it can be done in the spring. Collect at the end of summer.
History: This plant is to attract wildlife such as butterflies, birds, and some flying insects and bees.
            There was a tea made out of the leaves that has been used as an herbal remedy for stomach pain. Flower tea has been used for headaches while stems that are boiled have been a medicinal herbal treatment for snakebite.
Warnings: It is an aggressive grower and needs to be watched so that it does not choke out other plants.
Distribution: Ratibida columnifera is found in AL, AZ, AR, CO, CT, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, IN, IA, KS, LA, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NJ, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, WV, WI and WY.

These three native plants are all good ones to start from seed. They are native to Georgia, so they will not need as much attention, water, or fertilizer to stay thriving. Native plants have so many wonderful uses in prairie and wildflower gardens, and these three selections are perfect for the Georgia heat and humidity.


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