Although its name doesn’t suggest much in the way of beauty, fleabane is a tall wildflower that produces great clouds of tiny blossoms from midsummer to early fall. The flower clusters are made up of 1-inch diameter blossoms that look like daisies, each of which contains 100-150 threadlike pale pink or white petals. Fleabane is sometimes mistaken for an aster, although that plant blooms later in the season. Fleabane’s native forms are seldom grown in the garden because they can be weedy, but they're great for naturalized areas and prairie or meadow plantings. Many well-behaved hybrids are available, however, and all are beautiful when cut in big sprays and arranged in a vase.
Garden Plans For Fleabane
Plant a Bouquet Garden
Well-designed cottage gardens can easily double as bouquet gardens. If that's your plan for fleabane, pair it with plants that bloom in spring, summer, and fall and enjoy a garden that produces bouquets for nine months or more. Call on spring bulbs—like tulips, daffodils, and hyacinth—to produce stems for cutting in spring. Since fleabane blooms for weeks in early summer, add catmint, salvia, false indigo, columbine, peony, and coral bells as colorful companions. Celebrate summer with lilies, daylilies, purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, and summer-blooming annuals. Armloads of flowers continue in fall with Japanese anemone, aster, Joe Pye weed, and balloon flower.
Fleabane Care Must-Knows
Plant fleabane in full sun and average dry-to-medium well-drained soil. Fleabane puts up with some light shade, especially in climates with hot summers. Fleabane is a biennial or short-lived perennial in most areas, but it doesn't often thrive in areas with hot, humid summer climates.
In optimum growing conditions fleabane may self-seed, producing a new crop of plants every year. After plants finish blooming, cut them back by about half to encourage dense, new growth and tidy up their appearance. Fleabane will occasionally bloom again in late summer or early fall. In early spring, cut plants back to ground level before growth begins. Divide fleabane every two or three years in either spring or fall.
As for problems, leaf spots, rust, and powdery mildew may occasionally cause fleabane trouble. Rich soil may make this plant get leggy. But overall, this plant prefers to be ignored —so enjoy it without working up a sweat.
More Varieties of Fleabane
This selection of Erigeron, sometimes called Rose Jewel, has almost feathery lilac-rose daisy flowers on plants 15 to 18 inches tall for many weeks from summer into fall. Zones 5-8
Erigeron 'Sommerneuschnee' has white daisy blooms with a touch of pink, which provide freshness in the garden through much of the summer. Zones 3-8
Plant Fleabane With:
One of the most versatile ornamental grasses, blue fescue can be used in many different ways. Plant it at the base of leggy shrubs or tall perennials, such as lilies, to help them blend with the landscape and offset the other plant's flowers or foliage. Plant in masses as a groundcover or in rows as an edging plant. Use as an accent in a rock garden or flower border. It even looks fabulous in containers!Blue fescue is evergreen in all but its northernmost range. The fine bluish foliage looks best when it is fresh in spring and early summer. Seed heads turn tan when mature. You may want to cut them off to keep plants tidy.
Yarrow is one of those plants that give a wildflower look to any garden. In fact, it is indeed a native plant and, predictably, it's easy to care for. In some gardens, it will thrive with almost no care, making it a good candidate for naturalistic plantings in open areas and along the edges of wooded or other wild places.Its colorful, flat-top blooms rise above clusters of ferny foliage. The tough plants resist drought, are rarely eaten by deer and rabbits, and spread moderately quickly, making yarrow a good choice for massing in borders or as a groundcover. If deadheaded after its first flush of blooms fade, yarrow will rebloom. If left to dry on the plant, flower clusters of some types provide winter interest. Flowers of yarrow are excellent either in fresh or dried arrangements.
There are hundreds of different types of salvias, commonly called sage, but they all tend to share beautiful, tall flower spikes and attractive, often gray-green leaves. Countless sages (including the herb used in cooking) are available to decorate ornamental gardens, and new selections appear annually. They are valued for their very long season of bloom, right up until frost. Not all not hardy in cold climates, but they are easy to grow as annuals. On square stems, clothed with often-aromatic leaves, sages carry dense or loose spires of tubular flowers in bright blues, violets, yellow, pinks, and red that mix well with other perennials in beds and borders. Provide full sun or very light shade, in well-drained average soil.