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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.
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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.