rain gardens

Elliott's Lovegrass and Purple Lovegrass

Purple Lovegrass

Purple Lovegrass

If you like low maintenance and you have lots of sun and well-drained soil, you’ll love Elliott’s lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii – pronounced EAR ah grohs tis ell ee OTT ee eye) and purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis – pronounced EAR ah grohs tis SPECK tah buh liss). That is their preferred growing condition; but if you have only so-so sun and moist loam that is occasionally inundated with fresh or brackish water, you can still enjoy these two perennial native grasses in your landscape. They are that tolerant of a wide variety of conditions . . . drought tolerant, salt tolerant *, hardy to minus 10 degrees . . . you can hardly go wrong with these plants. Having said that, do not plant them in heavy clay or deep shade.

Elliott’s lovegrass and purple lovegrass are clump forming with fine-textured leaf blades. Elliott's are a pretty silvery-blue-green, and purple lovegrass foliage is green (occasionally with a reddish tinge at the tip). Their rate of growth is fast; but with their short rhizomes, they spread slowly. They grow to a height of two to two and a half feet here in Tallahassee. Apparently they can get a little taller further south where they do not die back in the winter. They both work well in rain gardens, as specimen plants or in a mass planting and are attractive to birds and butterflies.

You’ll enjoy them most in the late summer and fall when they bloom. Elliott’s lovegrass has white to tan blossoms, and (you guessed it) purple lovegrass’ blossoms are a reddish purple. The UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions site describes these wispy blossoms as resembling ‘a tinted mist above the foliage’. I think that’s an excellent description.

* Tolerates moderate amounts of salt wind without injury and occasional (but not long-term) flooding by salt or brackish water.

At Native Nurseries, we typically stock Elliott's lovegrass and purple lovegrass in 1-gallon pots. Currently we do have some in stock. As always, give us a call to check availability before making a special trip (although we’re always happy to see you). Sorry . . . we do not ship plants.

Some information for this blog post came from the following sources –

http://alachua.ifas.ufl.edu/pdfs/lawn_and_garden/FFL%202013%20Tour%20Fact%20Sheets/FS%2067%20Select%20FLorida%20Native%20Grasses%20for%20North%20Central%20Florida.pdf

http://nassau.ifas.ufl.edu/horticulture/demogarden/printables/Elliot's%20Love%20Grass.pdf

http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/lovegrass.html

http://ucl.broward.edu/wildflower_central.htm - Purple lovegrass photo

Senecio a/k/a Golden Ragwort

­­­­­­­If you’ve been noticing a lot of yellow, daisy-like flowers in shady gardens this last week or so, you’ve most likely been seeing Senecio a/k/a Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea). This native wildflower forms an evergreen, perennial groundcover in the right conditions. It’s often used in the sun up north, but our southern sun is too strong for it, so plant it in full to part shade here in the Tallahassee area. It likes moist soil, but also does well in normal garden conditions. For this reason, it’s a great choice for rain gardens. It’s also a good choice for attracting bees and makes a good cut flower, too! American Indians used the roots and foliage for a medicinal tea. The foliage is mildly toxic however, so we would not recommend you try it yourself. Senecio’s satiny, heart-shaped basal foliage grows to a height of eight inches. Its flower stems grow to two to three feet and produce clusters of golden-yellow flowers up to one inch in diameter. It spreads easily - by both root colonization and seed and will spread and fill in faster if you let it go to seed. It will also go through a messy stage if you do so. Plants expend a great deal of energy to create seed – energy taken from other processes such as foliar growth. For that reason, it will look a bit scruffy for a period of six to eight weeks after seed dispersal. I let it go to seed in my yard for the first few years after I planted it; but once it had formed a nice thick mass, I started cutting the flower stems at the base as soon as they were past their prime. If you do so, you will avoid that scruffy period.

Once it’s established, maintenance is easy. Keep Senecio watered during dry periods, and you may have to do a little pulling to keep it contained. That’s pretty much it, other than cutting those spent flower stems. The only pests that ever seem to bother it are leaf miners, but they are easy to control. When you see their tracks on the foliage, simply remove those leaves and throw them away. Leaf miners do lay eggs inside the leaf however, so be sure to throw them in the trash and not on the ground.

At Native Nurseries, we stock Senecio most of the year in quarts and 1-gallon pots. Currently we have quarts only. As always, give us a call to check availability before making a special trip (although we’re always happy to see you). Sorry . . . we do not ship plants.

Some information for this blog post came from the following sources –

http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=PAAU3

http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=l350

Post Date: 3/13/15