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!