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Loosestrife (Lysimachia) is a large genus with more than 150 species of herbaceous and evergreen perennials. Types vary from stately plants suitable for borders to ones that serve as creeping groundcovers. Flowers vary, too—they can be shaped like cups, saucers, or stars and come in shades of white, yellow, pink, and purple. This vigorous grower can therefore suit a variety of settings, add color through flowers and/or foliage, and quickly fill in empty spaces.
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Part Sun, Shade, Sun
Under 6 inches to 8 feet
1 to 2 feet, or indefinite spread
Loosestrife Plant Colors
Although all varieties of loosestrife bear attractive flowers, these plants are also grown for their foliage. 'Alexander', for example, offers showstopping leaves of medium green edged in softer green and rimmed in cream. Those leaves take on a pink cast as they emerge in spring for an eye-catching show of color. Creeping Jenny (also known as moneywort) is a groundcover that adds bright splashes of gold foliage and flowers to partly shady areas.
For best results, plant loosestrife in well-drained, consistently moist soil and full sun. The former, if nutrient-rich, will fuel the perennial's rapid growth and extended bloom times. The latter will lead to the best foliage colors and prevent plants from flopping. For varieties with variegated or gold foliage, full sun may bleach out some of the leaves—especially in extreme southern exposures. If that's your worry, plant loosestrife where it will be sheltered from the sun in the afternoon. The plant will still perform beautifully.
Most types of loosestrife spread aggressively due to underground rhizomes and an ability to root anywhere a node touches the ground. Regular thinning keeps large stands of this plant under control; thankfully, shallow roots make the plants easy to pull out. You can also plant loosestrife in a weed barrier or bamboo barrier to restrict its running habit. Or, cultivate this plant in a container to contain its rampant growth.
Purple loosestrife, a wetland plant with showy spikes of purple flowers, is so invasive that the sale of this plant is illegal. (It belongs to the Lythraceae family, however, and should not be confused with other plants bearing the name "loosestrife.") It spreads primarily by seeds, but a mature plant's extensive roots can send out up to 50 shoots that create a dense woody mass. New plants can also be produced by stem fragments and pieces of roots.
More Varieties of Loosestrife
Lysimachia punctata, or whorled loosestrife, has whorls of 1-inch yellow flowers along the upper part of leafy 3-foot stems. The dark 3-inch leaves, sometimes variegated with white, are also arranged in whorls. In the damp areas that circle flower prefers, it may become invasive. Zones 4-8.
Lysimachia clethroides rises to 3 feet tall with stems topped with curved spikes of small white flowers. It is sometimes used as a cut flower. It is very aggressive and can become a nuisance. Zones 4-9.
This cultivar emerges in spring with exciting deep purple foliage that holds its color all season. Clusters of bright yellow 1-inch flowers nod atop 2- to 3-foot stems. Beware of aggressive spreading.