Queen of the Prairie
Queen of the Prairie
Count on queen of the prairie, also called meadowsweet, to pick up the floral show in your garden when spring-blooming perennials peter out. In midsummer, cloudlike clusters of pink or white blooms rise above the ferny, toothed leaves of this North America native. Although the fluffy flower stalks look delicate, this tall, sturdy perennial will stand up to wind and a variety of tough soil conditions. Its flowers hold their color and shape for three weeks or more, moving the garden from mid- to late summer.
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Pair queen of the prairie with other North American native plants for easy-care plant combinations that are wildlife-friendly and beckon pollinators. Evoke a meadow in your landscape by planting queen of the prairie alongside spider flower, purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, bee balm, salvia, lobelia, and aster. For an eye-catching texture contrast, add regional grasses. A few striking examples include 'Cheyenne Sky' switch grass, 'Carousel' little bluestem, and blue sedge.
Queen of the prairie can reach a lofty height and spread. Depending on the variety, plants can grow up to 8 feet tall and spread more than 3 feet. Place these tall plants near the back of the garden so the pretty green divided leaves create a backdrop for other flowering plants. It is also a good choice for creating a living screen or fence. Plant it near your property line where it will enclose your space with frothy flowers.
Queen of the Prairie Care Must-Knows
For strong growth and robust flowering, plant queen of the prairie in moist, well-drained soil and full sun or part shade. Plant this perennial from transplants purchased at your local garden center because it can be tough to germinate from seed.
Queen of the prairie rarely needs staking. And skip the deadheading; it doesn't promote reblooming. The plant grows best when undisturbed; there is rarely a need to dig up and divide it, but if you do divide queen of the prairie, expect the plant to grow slowly for a couple of years before it returns to its former grandeur. Japanese beetles and powdery mildew trouble queen of the prairie occasionally. Your plants will usually recover the following year, but make sure to cut foliage back in late summer if it becomes unsightly.
Try These Varieties
Queen of the prairie 'Albicans' has showy white flowers on top of 5- to 6-foot-tall stems. 'Venusta' has striking deep pink to red flowers that will spice up your garden. Plant breeders are currently working on selecting more varieties of this North American native. Check your local garden center for petite varieties that reach a mature height of only 2 to 3 feet tall.
Queen of the Prairie Companion Plants
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 long season of bloom—right up until frost. Not hardy in cold climates, they are easy to grow as annuals. Dense or loose spires of tubular flowers in bright blues, violets, yellow, pinks, and red form on square stems clothed with often-aromatic leaves. Provide full sun or very light shade in well-drained average soil.
Colorful lobelias are a wonderful choice for landscaping around ponds and streams—anywhere the soil is consistently moist. In fact, lobelia loves downright wet conditions, making it a top choice for bog gardens. Perennial types of lobelia (not to be confused with the low-growing, often blue annual types) attract hummingbirds, so they're great for wildlife gardens. The foliage is a rich green to sometimes dark reddish-purple. The plant produces striking spikes of flowers in all shades of red, pink, blue, and white. Lobelia needs humus-rich soil. Mulch with a biodegradable material, such as wood bark or chopped leaves, to add humus to the soil.