Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday - Indian Pinks

Although not thought to be native in the northern part of the state, Spigelia marilandica, commonly known as Indian pink or woodland pinkroot is native to moist woodlands in Illinois, and much of the southeast United States.

With our rainy spring, this year it's growing in moist soil. Last summer, its first here, it thrived even our typically dry shade garden. Since it was new, it received supplemental watering every week we didn't have a good, soaking rain.

Indian pinks are slow to emerge in spring, and I'm glad I left last year's dead stems. The stems are sturdy, even a little woody, making it easy to find even though it's a late sleeper. Indian Pinks grow to 1-2 feet tall with a spread of up to 1-1/2 feet, and are hardy in zones 5a to 9b.

The tubular crimson blooms with their sunny yellow throats and star-shaped lobes are an excellent source of nectar for hummingbirds when they bloom in June. Operation Rubythroat lists this sweet wildflower as one of the top ten native hummingbird plants.

(Gratuitous Hummingbird video ;)

The seeds ripen in July, when the capsules become black on top and black-green on the bottom. Within a day or two of ripening, the capsules explode and the seeds scatter. We had no seedlings this year, so once they're finished blooming I'll try the pantyhose trick, wrapping some of the capsules in a piece of old hose to capture some seeds.

Indian pinks aren't easy to find in nurseries. I found this one last summer during a visit to Gethsemane Garden Center with my fellow Chicago Spring Fling Organizers. I'm glad it was in bloom at the time. I may not otherwise have noticed it among all the wonderful plants Gethsemane stocks.

Wildflower Wednesday is the brainchild of garden blogger extraordinaire, Gail at Clay and Limestone. For more native plants posts, hurry on over and visit her blog today!


  1. I had never heard of this plant before you showed it on your Bloom Day post, Linda, but anything so popular with the hummingbirds is something I would like to add to the garden. Maybe we can start a movement to get more nurseries to stock this plant!

  2. I forgot to add that I've seen this video somewhere before--what a delight!

  3. Linda, I also have never seen or heard of this plant. My old old house had a large woodland garden but this is a new one. Thanks for showing this on your post.


  4. Hi Rose, I'd heard of, but never seen them before. Apparently, they're relatively rare in the wild, but are becoming more sought-after by native gardeners. Hopefully they'll become more readily available. The adorable blooms and attractiveness to hummingbirds make them very appealing. If I'm successful capturing seeds, I'll be happy to share!

    I love seeing videos and photos of the elusive hummingbird, especially those showing the shy little birds in human contact.

    It's new to me too Eileen. I've visited the (linked) hummingbird site and seen them on the top ten list, but that's about all I knew of them until seeing them at Gethsemane last summer. All you have to do is look at them to know they'll attract hummingbirds. After bringing ours home, I went to the site, smacked my forehead, and remembered where I'd heard of them first.

  5. I love Indian Pinks~I remember the first time I saw it was in a wildflower book and the gardener had massed it along a creek! It was spectacular. I've a bit of it in my garden and hope to have more. Glad you joined WW~celebrating wildflowers is so much fun!

    The video was delightful~thank you!


  6. Glad I saw these in person--so sweet! Love the hummer video, too. There were a few of them at the bird rehab center I volunteered at. SO tiny, so sweet!

  7. What a cool plant! I wasn't familiar with it before. Thanks!

  8. Very cool that you have them too Gail! I'm glad you enjoyed the video.

    I'm glad too Monica. It was wonderful seeing you, even for just a short visit. Isn't Peeps sweet! I was so impressed how his mamma came back to feed him like that.

    They're so unique Rose! I'm glad to help add to your repertoire of native plants.

    p.s. I enjoyed your Ironweed article! (My Chicagoland Gardening magazine came today.) I planted one last year, but I'm afraid our patio/sidewalk construction project was too much for it, and it didn't come back this spring. Will have to try again!

  9. To my untrained UK eye they look abit like trilliums which I learnt from Gail, when she was over here, are US natives. Very pretty

  10. Mr. BrownThumb sent me over to you. Love your blog. I'll be back!

  11. Good morning, Linda. I had never seen this plant before. Wonderful colors. You were lucky to find it.

  12. Linda ! that was an amazing video and I don't know how many times I kept saying "Oh my god !" .. I have to have husband watch it too so thank you for adding it to your post on this plant : )
    I have wanted to get this one because it is so colourful and unusual .. you have edged me further ! LOL

  13. I love trilliums Helen! We have red ones here, but they've yet to bloom, and a white one planted last year that I hope is just dormant this year and not dead.

    Thank you for visiting, Webb! And thanks MBT for sending Webb over.

    Good morning Marnie. I was very happy to find this little plant, and happy to see it come back this year to bloom again!

    Thank you DGG!

    That sounds like me when I first saw it Joy! I showed it to the Lawn Man too. We both really enjoyed it. We love hummingbirds. I think Indian Pinks would do well in your garden.

    It's such a petite plant, I'm sure your plant shoehorn would be able to fit it into your garden! ;)

  14. That's a beautiful bloom you got there Linda. Although, the common name doesn't really reflect just how spectacular the bloom is.

    btw, love the new look of the blog.

  15. Aren't they neat MBT! I'm so happy to have found it at Gethsemane - really wish that place was closer. (My wallet's probably relieved it's not! ;)

    Thank you - it was time for a change. I like the cleaner look alot. I mulled it over for awhile, since it seems the old templates aren't available in case I wanted to switch it back.

  16. Your Indian pinks are so pretty. I thought I had some in my garden but if I do, they did not bloom:( Maybe next year. I'd love for it to selfseed too.

    Loved the hummer video. That little mother was quite the good mother and I'm so glad Peeps was successfully rehabilitated.

  17. I hope your 'pinks' show back up next year Tina. Glad you enjoyed the video - sure is a heart warmer!


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