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Masterwort bears interesting flowers in late spring and early summer that look like pincushions. But what really makes this plant special is that it’s one of only a few cut flowers that thrives in shade. So if your landscape doesn’t get a lot of sun—but you still want to grow a cutting garden or add some color outdoors—this is a good plant to put on your list.
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garden plans for Masterwort
Masterwort Care Must-Knows
As a woodland plant, masterwort appreciates a spot in part shade: filtered shade all day or morning sun with shade during the hottest part of the afternoon. If you live in a cool-summer climate where the temperature rarely peaks past 75 degrees F, you can grow masterwort in sunnier spots as well as shade.
This woodland perennial does best in soil that's moist, well-drained, and rich in organic matter. If your ground includes a lot of sticky clay or sand that causes soil to dry up quickly, amend it with a liberal amount of organic matter before you plant masterwort. Adding an inch or two of compost every fall also helps.
Water masterwort regularly, especially during hot, dry periods. This plant doesn't tolerate drought well, so you may find it blooms less and displays crispy brown foliage if it doesn't get enough moisture over the summer. In fact, masterwort likes moist soil and can thrive in the kind of consistently wet soil that causes other perennials to suffer root rot.
In areas that tend to be hotter than masterwort likes, help it along by spreading a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch over the soil. This keeps soil damp longer because there's less moisture lost to evaporation, making it more available to your plants. Mulching also keeps the soil temperature cooler for the roots and suppresses weeds. Plus, organic mulches, such as compost, shredded wood, or pine needles, decompose over time, improving the quality of your soil.
You can extend masterwort's bloom season by removing old flowers as they fade (deadheading). With regular deadheading, this perennial continues to bloom into July. Not much pruning is needed. You can cut masterwort back to a couple of inches tall in late fall or early winter after frost kills the foliage. Or leave it standing for winter interest, then trim stems back to a couple of inches tall in early spring as new growth resumes.
Using Masterwort in the Garden
Enjoy masterwort in the middle or back of shaded garden beds and borders. Its upright habit makes it a perfect partner for mounding hostas and other shade-garden plants.
Because this plant enjoys moist soil, you can grow it near streams or water gardens, or in areas such as ditches that tend to stay wet. If you have a leaky water spigot on the north side of your house, masterwort planted nearby will love the regular supply of moisture!
Though it's a perennial in Zones 4 to 7, you can enjoy masterwort as an annual if you grow it in large containers. This lets you enjoy the intricate, unusual flowers up close on your shaded deck or patio.