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Moisture-Loving Natives

Filipendula rubra produces airy rose-pink flower clusters that can be between 4-10 inches wide and rise above the plant’s deeply divided leaves presenting a regal appearance befitting its common name, Queen of the Prairie.

Native plantings on Evening Island, Chicago Botanic Garden. The pink is queen of the prairie. (JR P, flickr)

One of our most spectacular native flowering plants is Filipendula rubra with the common name of Queen of the Prairie. It produces airy rose-pink flower clusters that can be between 4-10 inches wide. They arise above the plant’s deeply divided leaves and present a regal appearance befitting its common name.

It especially loves boggy, moist locations in full sun and enjoys mulch that keeps the soil moist below ground all season. It grows from rhizomes that should be spaced 1-2 feet apart with their tip at soil level. Divide the rhizomes in the spring, or if you gather seeds, refrigerate until it is safe to plant the next spring.

Plants grow 2 to 6 feet tall so should be placed in the center of a large bed or allowed to spread into a large individual specimen clump in a bed on their own.

One cultivar ‘Venusta Magnifica’ grows 5-6 feet tall and produces deep pink blossoms.

For a large native planting, combine Queen of the Prairie with monarda, cardinal flower, blue flag iris, great blue lobelia, dwarf Joe Pye weed, and blue mist flower, as all of these plants enjoy moisture and will spread. Add some little bluestem grass in front, as it is valuable in the fall and winter to brighten the landscape.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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