A Gardening Journal
Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Narrowleaf Ironweed
- Published: October 07 2016
I grow few Fall-flowering perennials—asters and mums, say—because their foliage is so boring all Spring and Summer. But I'm jazzed all season long about two of my vernonias.
This thread-leaved species, Vernonia lettermannii, comes into flower in late September after looking as fine since May as the best thread-leaved amsonia. Not even two feet high and wide, it's often an easier fit than amsonia: Each clump of the latter quickly spreads to four or five feet wide, which is great for large gardens but far too billowy for compact ones.
In close-up, the foliage really is as feathery as that of the amsonia. Does narrowleaf ironweed foliage also develop as exciting a Fall coloring? Will flowers continue to emerge even as the foliage turns?
Either way, I'll post the full profile on this rare species soon. Its stems are self-supporting and the clump looks fresh all season: Narrowleaf ironweed deserves a place in almost any sunny garden whose soil provides decent to amaaazing drainage year-round.
Here's the story on another of my ironweeds, Vernonia altissima 'Jonesboro Giant'. Its flowers and season of bloom are the same as those of narrowleaf ironweed, but otherwise the two are opposites: Jonesboro Giant soars to twelve feet and more, it prefers soil that is moist to saturated, and it usually needs staking.