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Fleece Flower

Persicaria

It's not hard to figure out where fleece flower got its name. In summer, it produces large spikes of beautiful, fluffy flowers in pink, red, or white. The foliage features lance-shape leaves that are often attractively variegated. Succulent stems with conspicuous knots at the node give this plant its other common name: knotweed. And a weed it can sometimes be, so seek out the non-invasive varieties to save the rest of your flower bed.

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Light:

Part Sun, Sun

Type:

Height:

From 6 inches to 8 feet

Width:

1-5 feet wide, depending on variety

Flower Color:

Special Features:

Zones:

3-8

Propagation

The Tall and Short of It

Fleece flower, or the genus Persicaria, is comprised of a massive group of plants that range from ground-hugging 'Himalayan Border Jewel' fleece flower to 5-foot-tall giant fleece flower. Exceptionally tough, these perennials are also known as knotweed. Some types of fleece flower live up to the "weed" part of their common name by self-seeding with gusto to take over a planting area. The good news is that many of the named cultivars available at garden centers were selected because they are well-behaved. 

Garden Design Ideas

With both flowers and often-variegated green foliage contributing to its good looks, fleece flower is a valuable member of a garden designer's palette. Some varieties boast foliage that takes on intense hues in extreme heat or cold. Tall varieties are great for the back of a border. Medium-height plants, which suit the middle of a border, look especially striking in a casual cottage garden. Mat-forming groundcover species of fleece flower are well-suited to rock gardens or for planting between stepping stones on a walkway.

Design a gorgeous rock garden using these ideas!

Avoid the Invasion

Carefully inspect the plant tag when purchasing fleece flower, or talk to nursery staff, to avoid the fleece flower varieties that are invasive in your area. In general, named cultivars, such as 'Summer Dance', 'Firetail', 'Golden Arrow', and 'Alba' spread slowly but are not invasive.

Feel free to choose great white fleece flower (Persicaria polymorpha), also known as giant fleece flower, because it is not invasive. But it is exceptionally showy, growing 4 to 5 feet tall and topped with massive, white, fluffy flower clusters for 8 weeks or more in midsummer. Giant fleece flower adds vertical interest to the back of a border. It also makes a great focal-point plant.

Check out this awesome perennial border plan.

Fleece Flower Care Must-Knows

All types of fleece flower share similar growing requirements. They thrive in full sun and average, well-drained soil. They're tolerant of heat, humidity, and, when established, drought. Many types are also deer-resistant.    

Fleece flower is often one of the last plants to emerge in spring. Give it plenty of time to pop out of the ground before determining whether it made it through the winter. As soon as the green shoots emerge, fleece flower will take off. Taller plants may need to be staked for support.

Find everything you need to know about staking perennials here.

More Varieties of Fleece Flower

'Painter's Palette' fleece flower

This variegated selection of Persicaria virginiana  is grown for it's dramatically marked leaves. They are splashed with cream and pale green, and strongly marked with a burgundy chevron. It can grow 4 feet tall. Zones 5-9

'Red Dragon' fleece flower

Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon' may reach 3 feet tall with leafy stems clothed with stunning oval deep red foliage strongly marked with a gray chevron. The spikes of white flowers are also pretty. Zones 5-9

plant Fleece flower with

Iris
Named for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, iris indeed comes in a rainbow of colors and in many heights. All have the classic, impossibly intricate flowers. The flowers are constructed with three upright "standard" petals and three drooping "fall" petals, which are often different colors. The falls may be "bearded" or not. Some cultivars bloom a second time in late summer. Some species prefer alkaline soil while others prefer acidic soil.Shown above: Immortality iris
Loosestrife
These vigorous growers are beautiful additions to the garden. They vary from tall, stately plants suitable for borders to others that can be planted as creeping groundcovers. Flowers, too, vary from tight spikes of 1/2 inch to 1-inch cups carried alone or in whorls. Humus-rich, moisture-retentive soil is recommended; some varieties enjoy wet soil and ample water. Several sorts may become invasive and need to be corralled.Note: These are not the invasive purple loosestrife, which has been banned in many parts of the United States.
Helenium
Long-blooming helenium lights up the late-season garden with showy daisy flowers in brilliant yellows, browns, and mahogany, centered with prominent yellow or brown discs. Many of the best cultivars are hybrids. All are excellent for cutting. Deadhead to extend bloom time, and divide the clumps every couple of years to ensure vigor.
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