What’s so appealing about this Knotweed? Is it the green and cream or white leaves with pale peach to dark red splotches on top? Is it the flowers – many tiny red or dark pink orbs on a long stem that appear above the leaves? Knotweed means tall, friendly color growing throughout the bed. Easy care makes it a keeper.
Persicaria virginiana commonly called knotweed is a herbaceous perennial found in the U.S., Japan and Korea. It thrives in Zones 4-8.
The leaf is oval. Green is the main color. Then it’s color on color: cream or white splotches topped by pale peach to dark red splotches. No two leaves look alike.
Knotweed grows to about 24 inches tall. Its spread is one and a half to two feet wide.
Bloom time is late summer, early fall. Tiny flower “knots” in red or dark pink bloom on a tall stem giving it the name knotweed. The second part of the name “weed” doesn’t apply to the variety Persicaria virginiana as it is not invasive. It spreads by rhizomes – thick looking roots that grow horizontally underground. It is also self seeding as the “knots” or flowers when dry, fall off and germinate. Pets sometimes sport little pink knots in their coats after brushing up against the stems. Where will the knots land?
Deer and rabbit resistant.
Full sun to part shade is required for good growth.
Soil is average, well drained.
Water needs are medium which is to say they tolerate some dry weather, but biweekly watering keeps them looking their best.
Maintenance is low. No cutting back. No dead heading the flowers. No significant pests or diseases. After winter the stems look like dry sticks coming out of the ground. These can be removed or crushed in place. New growth covers them up as they decompose.
Problems are Small
Sometimes knotweed winds up in places where it’s not wanted. Pulling it out is easy.
As a group they’re not dense enough to keep weeds from growing in between. If the weeds are below the height of the knotweed, they can’t be seen until closer inspection.
Another type of knotweed called Fallopia japonica is invasive in the U.S. It chokes out native plants and should not be grown.
Naturalizing is the easiest way to enjoy them in the garden. Variegated leaves and an easy growing habit fill in a space with good color. Knotweed contrasts well with the green of nearby bushes. They can also be used in container plantings if kept well watered. Cut stems of leaves and flowers to add an unusual twist to a bouquet.
A mid summer giant size bouquet grows right outside my dining room window. Many fuchsia pink flowers appear on leafy green ends of each branch all around the bush. Love Rose of Sharon this time of year for its wow factor. While planting, I was hoping for a spray of color outside the window. I more than got my wish!
The fuchsia pink bloom is similar in shape to the rose. It begins as a rose bud look alike before opening to a layered-petal flower. Blooms are abundant. Other bloom colors available are blue, lavender, purple, red or white.
No scent for humans. Occasionally bumble bees and butterflies alight to enjoy the flowers’ nectar. A hummingbird inspects the blooms from time to time. But the hummingbird prefers a tubular flower and moves on. Birds rustle leaves all day pecking at insects on the multi stemmed bush.
Come winter it is a show piece for fallen snow. Its many grey branches catch snow on the topside becoming a frosted vision. Winter resident birds don’t mind the snowy perch and rest there.
This shrub is easy to care for. Planted six feet away from the back of the house, it soaks up water that comes down the slight incline of my yard. It gets all day sun. At ten feet tall it shades the back of the house from the western sunlight. In fall, after flowers fade, I prune to keep it at ten feet. Rose of Sharon can grow 12 feet tall by 10 feet wide. I think keeping it a little lower keeps it bushier. Leaves and flowers tend to be sparse near the bottom.
Originally from eastern Asia, it is cold hardy in Zones 5-8. Rose of Sharon tolerates poor soil such as the clay found in my yard. Enrich the soil with compost once a year as that’s what it prefers. I aim to please to keep it healthy! Regular watering during dry spells keeps it happy also.
Apparently Hibiscus syriacus (its botanical name) can be a magnet for the Japanese beetle. This might affect the appearance of the bush, but not the health. There are some organic ways to control the beetle such as picking it off the bush and destroying it. Use decoy plants such as zinnias or white geraniums where you can pick the beetle off and destroy it. Toads eat them. Attract toads by placing a broken clay pot with an opening, on the ground for a house. Moles eat them including the larvae which develop underground. Skunks eat them. A skunk had a run-in with my dog so I won’t recommend attracting skunks. Just be aware that they also eat the Japanese beetle.
Plant a flowering bush like the Rose of Sharon outside a window you often walk by or spend time near. It is wonderful to see the flowers in bloom or watch the birds and insects move around its branches. Nature is almost in the house!
What flowers in the cold? Whose leaves are green all year but are especially noticeable in late grey of winter? Well the title gave it away. Hellebores. Not a very pretty name but the name is as memorable as the flowers. The flowers are cup-shaped to start and open to five petals. Some have a prickly looking circle of stamens in the center. They almost look like the flowers you draw in kindergarten.
Hellebores are evergreen perennials that grow in Zones 4-9. Depending upon the species and which zone they’re growing in, they may bloom anywhere from December to April. They generally bloom for four to six weeks. That means no matter how ugly the weather and how anxious you are to see spring arrive, Hellebores are in bloom.
Most prefer a well-drained soil rich in humus. Most prefer an alkaline soil over acid soil.
Location requires you to think about winter and summer. Planting under a deciduous tree (leaves fall off before winter) gives them the sun they need to bloom in winter. Once the leaves grow on the tree or bush, Hellebores are protected from the heat of the summer sun. So – winter sun, summer shade.
Protect from wind when choosing a location to protect the leaves from wind burn.
Some will self-seed and add new plants to your garden.
Please Note: All parts of this plant are toxic to humans and pets. We normally eat only the fruits and vegetables we grow ourselves or that are sold in stores and markets. We know not to eat the flowers, bushes and trees that we grow in our gardens – that would make us sick. However, some plants have a special warning and Hellebores have that warning. Find a place to grow these plants where a curious child or pet won’t chew on them.
Caring for Hellebores
Water regularly when you water other flowers in the summer.
Add compost around plants every fall to feed them.
Possible pests: slugs, aphids. Possible diseases: fungus – Botrytis. Well drained soil and good spacing between plants should help prevent these problems.
When I first began gardening, the only kind of Hellebore available was one that had green flowers and supposedly smelled bad. I didn’t plant any, even though having an early flowering plant outside of my house was tempting. Now there are hybrids in many different colors from green to cream to pink, red and purple. No bad smell.
My Hellebores are planted in an area that I can see from my back door. I enjoy their green leaves and pale-colored flowers without opening the door to the cold.
Purple leaves are what I see when I open the back door. There are two Purple Leaf Sand Cherry bushes across the patio. They screen the neighbor’s wood privacy fence – an extra layer in the spring, summer and fall. They provide a little shade during the day. The sunlight that comes through the leaves change their colors. Some appear purple. Some are red. Others bronze, rust, and green.
Since the name of the bush begins with purple leaf, I chose that for the name of this site. I could be lofty and say that the leaf color is inspiring; there’s probably a metaphor for life. Maybe there is. But I chose it because I like the colors.
Green gardening is what I do. When we first moved here, I was partially going green. I made the change to all green when a next door neighbor came to me with a request. I had applied some weed killer on the lawn that adjoins her property. She asked if I would not do that again. She said she had some serious health problems and using weed killer was harmful to her condition. In fact, she said it was harmful for my family and even our dog. We were breathing it in, it was on our skin and clothes. She was such a great person, caring for others every where she went, including me and my family. How could I turn her down? And that’s how I began green practices.
I find it’s not hard to do. No huge change because I was already doing those things in many ways. Forgoing toxins on the lawn was not a big deal. I am still working on reducing the dandelion population in a non-harmful way. Not harvesting leaves for my salad yet. There are cats, raccoons, possums, skunks and the occasional dog off the leash walking through my yard. This does not make dandelions appealing. What I do have are a lot of birds, bees – especially native bees, butterflies and dragonflies. Lots of cool visitors to my yard. And all because of a request by a great neighbor!