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veronicastrum red arrows...O yes please

last year

Well, I have always been seduced by tall and wildly inappropriate perennials. Idly glancing at geums and geraniums (after a bracing stroll through my favourite alpine site where I bought 13 plants!), I was stopped in my tracks by this fantastically architectural plants. I know I am going to struggle with watering but I had to buy 5 of these (along with a lemon queen to keep them company(. Anyone else grow this variety of culver's root?


I have just bought over 20 plants in a mad spree...and a hard afternoon at the allotment, clearing beds and pulling wild oats.

Comments (46)

  • last year

    I don't grow that variety of veronicastrum, but I would say be careful with the helianthus, lemon queen as it's super invasive - at least in my yard!

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    I dunno, it just looks wrong to me. (personal observation). I prefer the lavender ones or the white.

  • last year

    In all the google pics it looks lavender with a little red on the side shoots.

  • PRO
    last year

    Rosaprimula, I grow the straight native white Campanulastrum. They have a very short bloom period, but the whorled leaves are architectual. I just showed up in my garden, I never planted it. Since I have your attention I want to show you the Apiaceae species I'm growing.

    Taenidia interiggima. I had difficulty germinating these and what finally worked was very fresh seed broadcast on the ground.

    Sium sauve. It would no dought do better in a boggy situation.

    Zizia aurea. There's rumours that this plant is difficult to establish, but Ive found the opposite to be true and mine grow into huge beasts and self so EVERYWHERE!

    Osmorhiza claytonii. I absolutely love this species. It softens any area it grows in.

    Cnidium monnieri. They can bloom, self-seed and grow and bloom a second time in one season. These here all began growth last year.

    Cryptotaenia canadensis. A bit wilted and another weedy spreader, but all vollunteers are welcome.

    Zizia aptera is more well behaved than aurea, and smaller.

    My first blooming Primula meadia in a few years, since my beautiful old Primula was murdered by chipmunks.

    Rattlesnake Master, Eryngium yuccaifolium? I love this plant.

    My Veronicastrum. I'm moving many plants around this year. Like always it's already getting hot outside and that cooler temp. window is almost closed. Ive been trying to add Polytaenia, Thaspium and Pairiteria? But no luck with germination. Ill have to locate some plabts nearby to collect fresh seed from. I can only comment on gardenweb with my autocorrect turned off so apologies for misspelling. If I leave posting to check spelling I lose the entire post.😁


  • last year

    O I love your posts, Jay. I am, I think, taking a chance with veronicastrum (I also love the foliage). I fear it will struggle with my soil so I am promising myself that I will keep up with irrigationI have wasted loads of time and effort pursuing plants which will not survive without copious effort on my part (so inevitably, doomed). Phlox, filipendulas, asters, strobilanthes, lysimachias, primulas...on and on). I would be more trepidatious about Lemon Queen if I didn't also have the ridiculously spready rudbeckia laciniata...which has colonised a chunk of space round the 'pond' (essentially an enormous plant pot, sunk in the ground). It is storming into life just now but inevitably, it will have a mad coupla weeks of blooming before the lack of water and less than ideal soil, knocks back it's conquering tendencies. Lemon Queen is going to have to tough it out under an enormous tree paeony, in the same bed as a world dominating mint!


    But heya - umbellifers. I have a bunch (not all of which have been successful). All are this years seedlings so I have only just started pricking them out. I have a dark-leaved anthriscus ('Dial Park') which I am loving the most. Also, molopospermum peloppianese, selinum wallichianum, seseli hippomaranthemum (much daintier than the others, with pink flowers), selinum gummiferum, cenolophium denudata (this is quite fashionable over here) heracleum sp. with pink flowers. No germination for heptaptera or zizia aurea (again). I lost a chaerophyllum (drought) but generally, once established, these plants do well for me. O yes, I have eryngium yuccifolium and am also growing e.oliverianum and e.planum (I do keep meaning to grow e.leavensworthi also).I have to rely on euphorbias for that flash of chartreuse.


    Well, the Red Arrows arrived in a woeful state so have been returned to the nursery. I already have veronicastrum in pale lavender so I am going to get another 3 the same, Danny. I think I was probably saved from a weird choice cos the rest of the bed is much paler and frothier...or it will be next year.

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    I love all veronicastrum. But having said that @rosaprimula I don't believe I have grown that particular variety.

    What I do notice about veronicastrum is that they seem to do 'better' i.e. less floppy when they are in leaner soil. As well they seem to require more moisture than I had first expected.


    There is someone(s) in the group (@woodyoak zone 5 southern Ont., Canada for sure) who have a gorgeous specimen of virginicum 'Album'.....maybe my favourite variety.

  • last year

    Mmm, mine might be 'Album;. Rouge. I know it isn't 'Fascination' but the dog stole the label some months ago so it will be one of those garden surprises (assuming survival). I can do 'lean'. It's 'more moisture' that I feel will be difficult (for well-meaning but unreliable types).).

  • last year

    Yep, I have veronicastrums in 1/2 shade and full sun, and they do demand water (saw that during last years drought), but are quite easy for me after they get some size (seeds are difficult for me). I had overwhelcming success with zizia aurea seeds this spring, I've given a compot away and need to transplant again and give more away. Easily hundreds germinated and the 3 remaining compots have at least 20 in each. I do have a couple of dark leaved seedlings (as someone wrote in a column I read once) to try to keep.

  • PRO
    last year

    Ive noticed the deer have started browsing my Zizia aurea in a more shady bed. There are still many vollunteers untouched elsewhere. It's a good thing because they've been ignoring my Aralia spinosa thats close by the GA. A couple years ago they were gnawing any miniscule new growth on the devil's walking stick, and I was wondering why it was so late leafing out. They must taste really delicious? My Salvia azurea mysteriously died. It was in the middle of other tall plants, so maybe it needed more air flow, or perhaps it was beetle grubs or voles, rabbits, a bizarre fusarium?? Rosaprimula, I will have to google some of those species you mentioned, I've never heard of them. I cut my redbud down and I need a smaller tree to shade my ephemerals. I'm thinking of growing 1 Heracleum maximum as a stand-in for a small tree. I've been itching to grow it for several years. You really can't get any bigger than that. Maybe I'll grow some native Cow Parsley and Prairie Dock in my front lawn with a jurassic park type theme. My neighbors already think I'm crazy.

  • last year

    "My first blooming Primula meadia in a few years, since my beautiful old Primula was murdered by chipmunks. "

    Your picture shows a Dodacatheon, not a Primula. They're native here.


    And I'm still trying to find a Veronicastrum in your last picture.

  • last year
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    Ah, some of the heracleum are definitely dangerous. H.mantegazzianum is very problematic indeed because of the toxic coumarins. Don't hnow about heracleum maximum. My largest umbel by far is melanoselinum decipiens...but is monocarpic so is mainly grown for the foliage. All tend to be relatively short-lived although angelica arguta ( a US native, but grows on the other side of the country to you, Jay), has proved soundly perennial.

    Dodecatheon have been recategorised in the primula family, I think...but who can keep up with botanists now they have access to genetics these days? I like to wilfully refer to hostas as funkias.


    Do you only grow US natives, Jay? I have a rough percentage in my woods, of 90% native/10% exotic...although I place great emphasis on the role of pollinators (so avoid doubles or sterile plants, no matter how long-blooming). Have you come across any books by Ken Thompson? Will chat laters but rushing off out to the allotment.

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    Your picture shows a Dodacatheon, not a Primula. They're native here.

    @laceyvail 6A, WV Jay is correct. The former genus, Dodecatheon, was moved to Primula (in the "Dodecatheon section"), as a result of this 2007 research paper:

    http://www.botany.wisc.edu/courses/botany_940/11JClub/MastReveal2007.pdf

  • PRO
    last year
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    Rosaprimula, I'm growing a couple exotics, Ruta gravolens, and Orlaya💓. I had a Codonopsis pilosula, but it did'nt survive being transplanted. Ill have to get another. The Codonopsis is an adaptogen and very good for the health. I'd be growing another non native adaptogen Gynostemma pentaphyllum if the damn seeds would germinate. My Cnidium is non native also. I took a few tries to germinate Cnidium, but once I had some plants; they began to self sow themselves. Heracleum maximum is reported to have mild phototoxicity like the naturalized/invasive wild parsnip, but I have no reaction from touching wild parsnip or Rue. I can keep up with taxonomic changes easily because I'm in constant communication wirh the botanists that make those changes, and I also know new changes before they happen. In NA anyways. I never dreamed I could be so blessed as to stumble into and be a part of that circle. They are beautifIul people and I love them passionately. I would compare our circle to the academy of Athens where ideas are discussed and devloped and refined. I'm blessed to have some good friends in the UK also that provide insight into how things are over there. I feel totally unworthy to have such gifted,knowledgable friends. It took me a little while to accept the Dodecatheon/Primula change. I was recently shocked to learn that our native Basketflower Centaurea americana is now Plectocephalus americanus. I don't mix non natives into my plantings, well, none but the non native plants I already mentioned. I don't religiously just stick to growing natives. I have the freedom to grow anything no matter the provenance. I did put some Bats in the Belfry in a woodland planting, and I just noticed there's still one plant hanging on. The name Ken Thompson sounds familiar, but I haven't read anything by him, thanks for the suggestion!❤️

    My friend Hench. I wish I could dress like him.https://youtu.be/n-MrAd7Kd6Q

    I owe my current current situatlon to a couple people here at gw. jeeksl and Danny who mentored me about native plants for a couple years. No telling where I'd be today without their guidance.

  • last year

    Rosaprimula, have you considered veronicastrum 'Erica', below photo is not the best, but gives adequate good idea. It has thick textured rugose foliage and narrow upright form. Also, is more resilient to difficult conditions.

    On order and should arrive before too long from a reputable place that sends out nice established potted specimens, here's 'Cupid', photo from the net.



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    So Jay, why can't you (dress how you like)? I certainly do (although I do make a lot of my own clothes). I am very happy to cultivate the 'mad old bat' look...with added gaiety.

    I have bats in the belfrey (campanula trachelium) too...but they are very slow to colonise. Unlike some of the other bellflower hooligans.

    Do check the h.maximum. I don't have much of a reaction to most of the umbels...indeed, heracleum spondylium is my most common woodland grower, along with red campion...but, the h.mantegazzianum can cause blindness and dreadful, dreadful injuries...and is one of only 4 plants it is illegal to deliberately cultivate, in the UK. Always worth being prepared.

    Great vid of your pal, Henck. I often go to the orchid festival cos D-i-L is an avid grower (and better gardener than me). When I was at hort.college, I had a truly tremendous tutor, for the whole time I was there (4 years). He had started working at 14, as a contract rose budder and had spent his whole life in horticulture. He was an inspiration to myself and my eldest (who was also enrolled on the same course). It is possible to be self-taught but slow...and easy to skate over the parts which don't interest you. I much resented spending a term on groundskeeping but in the event, it was fascinating and well worth doing.

    I am having a bit of a love affair with centaurea. I have always grown the taller knapweeds (c.nigra, c. scabiosifolia) but am trying c.pulcherimum (sp?) and c.bella this year. Are they now plectocephalus?

  • PRO
    last year

    I can dress like that, it's just hard finding fun clothing like that in the states. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places? I'm getting that mustache and beard thing going. Maybe I'll dye my mustache twirls? One of our greatest Illinois botanists, Floyd Swink was self taught. He's also known for his light speed typing skills. 😁

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    OMG, Frozebudd...now I am back to craving 2tone pink/purple again...and I see that Beth Chatto's nursery carries it. Awaiting a refund and some work invoices to be paid, before I can start spending again, so not looking too hard...yet.


    Yes, do it Jay. Getting older is all the excuse we need to cultivate eccentricity. Also, mens clothing is usually so...dull. No need for gendered clothing these days - look in the women's sections.

  • PRO
    last year

    I will. I'm feeling rather rebelious these days with having

    parasitical theocrats trying to take away everyones pursuit of happiness and freedom. This rebel was making a statement.😂

  • last year
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    And while we are on the subject of Culver's Root on order, I got a confimation email today that 'my' veronicastrum is ready for pick-up. This variety is called Challenger.

    https://www.facebook.com/natureworkscmx/posts/day-9-veronicastrum-virginicum-challenger-what-a-striking-plant-this-is-there-ar/3345098572201245/

  • last year

    But heya - umbellifers.


    @rosaprimula I hope you don't think it is untoward but I think of you whenever I see my Angelicas pop up each spring ;)



  • PRO
    last year

    That's a beautiful Angelica Rouge! Which one is it? Reliably perennial?

  • last year

    Hey @Jay 6a Chicago! I think the Angelicas in this picture are Gigas. No they are not reliably perennial but they have reliably reseeded for me in this location for the past few years. I love them lots.

  • last year
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    And by chance today I just nabbed an variety of Angelica that I had never owned previously i.e. dahurica. Any experience with this particular Angelica... @rosaprimula? (Looking it up it seems that it may have certain worthwhile medicinal properties.)

  • last year

    ”they seem to require more moisture”


    Yes I found out the hard way as I moved my all of my happy ’fascination’ to a not so happy place...my dry slope. So yes, I moved them once again...this time closer to a water source!


    So far they are doing good.....

  • last year

    Roseprimula, I'm glad I took a chance on veronicastrum 'Erica' when long ago spying it at the nursery, it's not exactly a common variety, but something every avid gardener should have! V. virginicum is certainly a highlight of summer. :)


  • last year

    Well, for the first time in my life, I am buying in some mulch. All the compost I make is quickly used up in my potato beds so generally, I only use temporary, and not very attractive mulches to attempt to save soil moisture (leaves, grass clippings, weeds). I never manage to grow lush perennials such as FrozeBudds and Woody's astonishing stands of plantage but every 5 years or so, I forget how challenging it is and start sowing and ordering unsuitable plants again. Going to try to head off the summer dryout with a few inches of composted bark and 'soil conditioner'

  • last year

    Jay, I adore Henck! He is so creative and cute as can be! Go ahead and channel him. Love his style.


  • last year

    I have a small cupid root from a seller on etsy from michigan, its tiny foliage is looking healthy, -fingers crossed - I think it is said to be a more compact variety.


    I have grown a good number of the species, veronicastrum virginicum from seed and so I have quite a display in late summer here! The moose do sometimes munch them but it doesn't seem to be their favorite, knock on wood.


    I also have a fascination that is probably in too much shade but our large spruce trees are changing/dying due to spruce beetle, which is sad. More sun will be nice as a consolation prize.


    I am intrigued by red arrows and other varieties mentioned here, they seem to do well for me.

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    Rosaprimula, quality soil is a real blessing! I gardened on clay for most of my life, clay filled with zillions of earthworms and I don't mean the good kind, the buggers so quickly devoured amendments of peat moss and manure that only a few years later the ground was back to being miserably hard. When the family farm sold and it was time for me to make a big move, soil quality was paramount of mind! I found a large stand of virgin forest and with spade in hand I drove it into the ground and gave out a great big thank you, light fluffy grey wooded soil! Most of the ground has been easy to cultivate once tree roots and stones were removed, then just flip the soil over and plant away! Though, a zone of cemented clay abounding with stones stretches across the back gardens, a beast of drudgery to have dug that up, near impossible even to wedge spade between the stones! Masses of sticky clay I hauled off for fill and two mountains of stones dumped off a slope into the forest. Those not blessed with mostly good soils, I feel your pain!

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    I have a bit of woodland too, It is on the curve of a little oxbow, in a tidal river valley, so it is a mad mix of rich alluvial soil - some of the very best in the UK, but also very stony from geographical processes only dimly understood by me. Gorgeous, deep, rich loam. I don't garden there much apart from hopeful wildflower seeds though because it is 60 miles from where I live with a full and active wildlife contingent. Although I probably moan on quite a bit about my allotment soil, I have nothing to complain about really. A mild climate and free draining soil is not any sort of punishment. I have grown a ridiculous number of plants and had pleasure from all of them (although some had a much briefer stay in the land of life). I have always been thankful not to have to deal with clay,...or freezing cold...or the dreary wet climate of my (non-gardening) youth.


    I haven't grown a.dahurica, Rouge cos it is a bit demanding of moisture.There are some of the umbellifers which achieve better drought resistance once they have a year under their belt but it's always touch and go which will survive into year 2 and onwards. Angelicas, along with peucedanums have generally been the most challenging for me, and the most unhappy with my dry climate.

  • PRO
    last year

    For my friends who fall guilty to planticide. LOL Rosaprumula. I just learned of a very bizarre Apiac called Smyrnium. I thought the photo was a hoax at first. Have you grown them? Since you like achitectual plants do you grow any Echium species. I grew Vipers Bugloss for years. I've never seen so many bees attracted to a plant.


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    Rosaprimula, your words paint good idea of your growing conditions. The slump of the winter jet stream leaves most of Canada and good chunk of the US exposed to the wrath of mean arctic outbreaks, we're not favored as the UK is with the influences that help maintain the jet stream predominantly to the north. My winters are often so long drawn out brutal that one would think they'll never end, but like a switch it finally goes from cold to warm and this year it's been pretty rather very warm settled for about five weeks, and the SUNSHINE, I don't think there's been an all cloudy day in all that time, winter sunshine is also our bit of saving grace, the low angle sun streams through the south facing windows to nicely warm the house and help lift human spirits. I do consider retiring to a milder climate, though summers here are rather very nice and the generally low humidity a real blessing! Maybe, I'll construct a four seasons solarium and enjoy my greenery all year round. I guess, no place is perfect, all having pros and cons, it all kinda balances out, though I do admit to a bit of zonal envy!!

  • last year
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    Hi Jay - smyrnium is very common here - smyrnium olusatrum is the first umbel to flower for me - I love the pale green florets. Also, smyrnium perfoliatum - although they have handsome shining leaves, and the peroliatum (also called alexanders) can be eaten, they can be over vigorous and persistent. I have vipers bugloss all over the woodland edges and grow the smaller, more mannerly echium plantagineum on the allotment...and yep, once you have one giant echium (pinniana), you always have them. Seedlings poking up in every pot as I write.

    Winter sunshine is indeed a blessing, Frozebudd...it is the long grey drear of an English winter which causes me to hibernate indoors, by a fire, doing homely textile-based things. I used to do a lot of baking when I had smalls - the fragrance of an almond frangipane can lift anyone's spirits.

  • last year

    Ahhh, the wood burning fireplace, sure does warm the place so well in comparison to forced air heat! Being in the forest, I'd never run out of firewood, though gathering it up and maintaining a fire is an all round good deal of work. I winter pour over seed catalogues and have a headshaking amount of planting ahead!

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    Yeah...I hear you, FrozeB...and personally, I dislike the actual planting since it involves much dithering, lack of faith, revised 'plans' and other crises. The only good thing to say about it is that all the little seedlings I have nurtured (for years) get released into the wild (like teenagers). Unlike offspring though, once they are out of my sight, they are out of my mind, and I can only feel relieved that they are cast off to find their own way in the world.

    I don't mind the woodcutting - you get warm twice - once when chopping and again when idling in front of it.

  • 10 months ago

    I haven't grown a.dahurica, Rouge cos it is a bit demanding of moisture.


    @rosaprimula by chance I came across my dahurica this morning. It is in too much shade and it was showing its displeasure by being almost prone :(. So I staked it and here it is today:





  • 10 months ago

    I planted 'Fascination' and boy, did it need watering...in the beginning--sometimes twice a day (I would panic at the evening droop). After about a month, it seemed to get acclimated and not needing supplemental watering. Same with the white ones I planted last year--I didn't think I could keep up with the water to keep those little shoots alive...and they are under an overhang! This year, even in the drought, they have not needed supplemental watering.

  • 10 months ago

    Yep, I had to practically hover over the plans with a watering can. We have been in a cool, damp phase (typical english summer of olden times) so the veronicastrum is flowering at around 2.5 - 3 feet and has not needed extra attention for a couple of weeks. If it can survive through the rest of the summer and winter, it might be a keeper but I am gradually turning the whole allotment into a dry garden, with no supplemental irrigation...so it remains to be seen whether culvers roo has a place in my garden.

  • 10 months ago

    You have all convinced me to plant veronicastrum next spring! As it so happens, Well Sweep carries fascination, so I'll be trying that out. (And do not even try to convince me to plant it now. I put over 50 plants in the ground in June so I am done for now. And in a bout of insanity, I looked at the online catalog of Brent & Becky so I have 12 bulbs arriving in the fall.

  • 24 days ago
    last modified: 23 days ago

    I took a chance on veronicastrum 'Erica' when long ago spying it at the nursery, it's not exactly a common variety, but something every avid gardener should have! V. virginicum is certainly a highlight of summer. :)

    UPDATE May 2024

    So a houzz member with initials FB was beyond kind sending me a snippet of Erica (among several other wonderful plants).

    Take a look at the Erica in question just before being planted.....amazing eh?.



  • 24 days ago

    Rouge, this is a classy upright narrow growing plant with red tinged thick rugose foliage, it just gets better as it grows to maturity, kinda reminds me a good deal of a slim compact Joe pye weed, well other than the blooms.

  • 23 days ago
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    I was frankly rather annoyed to see the veronicastrums have persisted - was hoping they would shuffle off decently into plant heaven as I cannot face another torrid summer of hovering over drooping foliage. Well, they are on their own but as the base of the plants are hidden by a large patch of common sage, they may well get to flowering stage before the inevitable happens - I witness this every single year with the seemingly immortal (but hopeless) phlox which is invariably looking lush and promising...for now. Although an optimist (which gardener isn't?) I do know they are destined for a shriveled and haggard appearance (not unlike my own self).

    Anyway, for the next month or so, all will be eclipsed by the ramblers...although I expect the allotment to look like a teenage sleepover by the time July rolls around - dishevelled, tatty and exhausted...but thankfully, September can be a glorious and forgiving month so just holding my nerve and practising selective vision.

  • 23 days ago
    last modified: 23 days ago

    they would shuffle off decently into plant heaven as I cannot face another torrid summer of hovering over drooping foliage.

    For a time I had a NOID veronicastrum (probably "Fascination") out in the park, fending for itself; as well another one out front, in plain view. This one I fawned over ie supplemental water to the gills. And yet the 'neglected' one fared much better during drought times than did the 'babied' one. There is no doubt I overwater my outdoor plants. (I bet their roots are so close to the surface that they could wave to me ;))

    as I cannot face another torrid summer of hovering over drooping foliage.

    Did I see somewhere that England (or parts of) are experiencing a wetter spring than has been the case the last several years? Is this true for your locale @rosaprimula, @floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK?

    (In my location, this month just past (April), we got 150% of the normal precipitation for April and it seems to be continuing into May)

  • 23 days ago
    last modified: 23 days ago

    Yes...but I wouldn't like to bet that this trend continues into summer. Last year was anything but a dry heatwave year but I still felt I had to keep a watering can glued to my hands.