Indian pinks adapt easily to the shade garden

MCCLATCHY-TRIBUNE NEWS SERVICEFebruary 13, 2014 

LIFE HOME-ONGARDENING 1 MCT

Indian Pinks are unrivaled in beauty at the woodland's edge. They will do the same for your garden too.

MCT

Indian pink, known botanically as Spigelia marilandica, is so showy it caused my son to get off his bike and take notice when he was around 11.

The Indian pink is native to 17 states, mostly in the Midwest, but is cold-hardy in zones 5-9 (Boise is about zone 6 or 7) . It is different than many other wildflowers in that it is easy to grow and makes an incredible plant for the shade or woodland garden. Your clump or stand will expand over the years, becoming the real showstopper in the garden.

I have never met a single gardener that doesn't treasure this plant. It's not just the gardeners either, as this is one of the favorite natives for the ruby-throated hummingbird. In fact Operation RubyThroat lists it as No. 8 on its list of native plants.

Indian pink blooms are incredibly beautiful with their blazing tubular red flowers that open to expose bright yellow star-shaped tips. As striking as they are they are, the plant has been dealt a severe blow with some of its common names, such as wormgrass, and woodland pinkroot. Madison Avenue would have difficulty overcoming those names.

I am always getting questions about what to grow in moist, partially shady areas. The Indian pink would certainly be a great one to consider. This is a good clump-forming perennial that usually reaches about 2 feet in height. It is getting somewhat easier to find at garden centers and a whole lot easier to find via mail order.

Choose a site on a woodland edge or under the high filtered light of overhead trees. The soil should be moist and organic rich. Plant several, creating an informal drift. They are great with clumps of Christmas ferns, in front of large oakleaf hydrangeas and even partnered with hostas. I like them with blue-leafed hostas, but they can be breathtaking with hostas like 'Stained Glass' or 'Cathedral Windows' that have chartreuse or lime green leaves.

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