Sunday, June 6, 2010

Indian Pink is a Summer Sizzler

Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica) is a strikingly beautiful native wildflower here in the southern Appalachian region (USDA zone 6 -7). Beginning in late May, bright red tubular flowers flare open, crowned by five sharply pointed pale yellow reflexed lobes (see photo).

Indian pink prospers around rich moist open woodland areas. The well-drained soil should have a pH range between 6.5 to 7.0. Generously amend a partially sunny site with compost or peat to stimulate plant vigor and repeat flowering. Healthy plants grow 12-18 inches tall. Spigelia leaves attach directly to the main stem without petioles.

Indian pink is slow growing at first, taking two to three years to reach maximum floral potential. Planting five or more in a clump creates a showier display. Eventually, a healthy grouping will colonize. Bloom time is lengthened by swift removal of the old spent flowers.

Indian pink often blooms for a brief second interval in late summer when soil moisture is plentiful. Plant debris mostly disappears before winter sets in. The brightly colored flowers attract numerous pollinating insects and hummingbirds. No disease and pest problems are observed.

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