Monday, June 28, 2010

Culver's Root (Veronicastrum)

Photo: new cultivar ‘Fascination’ with lavender purple flowers

Midwest native Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum) starts the summer flowering season in my perennial garden. It naturally grows in open woods and meadows and thrives in fertile to moist soils. However, this deep rooted plant hasn’t complain about the current dry period in the Southern Appalachian region (USDA zones 6-7).
Culver’s root can be somewhat aggressive. Over a decade in my garden, a single plant now occupies 18 square feet. It prospers in infertile clay soil. When grown in full sun, it does not require staking. I grow it in the rear of the flower bed next to another favorite - goldenrod (Solidago spp.).
The narrow floral spikes stand 3-5 feet tall, depending on the variety. White flower spikes are most common, and attract large numbers of butterflies and bees. Flowering continues over 4 to 6 weeks, the terminal blooms first and secondary laterals in late July. Floral designers love the keeping quality of the bloom spikes and lovely narrow leaves which are arranged in whorls around the branchless stems.
Culver’s root is a low maintenance perennial. It will re-bloom if old flower spikes are deadheaded. There are no disease or insect problems.

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