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A Tall Plant in Every Yard

April 6, 2018

By: Barb Holtz

Best time to poke around a prairie is when stems tower overhead. You can't see the explorer, but tall swaying flower tops giveaway the walker every time. Tall Ironweed, Sweet Joe Pye, Cup Plant, Prairie Dock, Big Bluestem...and the list goes on. Crazy tall plants that are not woody. Gotta have one in your landscape. It should be a rule.

One of my favs? Tall Ironweed. A tough, sturdy stem like an iron rod (hence the name). The color - stunning, especially when paired with deep yellow goldenrods or other asters. Full sun with dampish soil for happy roots and Tall Ironweed is golden (actually the bloom is purple but the plant thrives in wet to moist areas). A mid-summer to fall bloomer, Tall Ironweed adds interest to the landscape into winter. Cut back thick stems 12-14" as hibernating rooks for solitary bees or snowflake clumps resembling marshmallows on a stick.

So, here's your assignment: grow one native plant taller than you that is not a tree or a shrub. It's just cool! Neighbors unfamiliar with this concept may offer a sideways glance once your Sweet Joe Pye reaches heights of 6-7 feet, but I guarantee they will be curious. There's your in. There's your chance to boast about your butterfly magnets and towering natural bird feeders. And once your crazy tall plant goes to seed or babies sprout, share. Remember, it's a rule!

A Field of Tall Ironweed aka Pollinator Heaven!
Tall Ironweed Up Close - Look at that Purple Stunner!

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