Compass plant

Silphium laciniatum

Photo/Illustration: 
Michelle Gervais
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Compass plant (Silphium laciniatum)
SILL-fee-um lass-in-ee-AY-tum
Genus:  Silphium
This tall, sturdy prairie plant makes an imposing statement in the garden with its large, deeply cut leaves and yellow sunflower-like flowers that face east and bloom in late summer and early fall. The leaves of the compass plant can grow up to 18 inches long and are deeply incised with a shape that looks like something from a painting by Matisse. They align themselves on a north-south axis to conserve moisture by avoiding the midday sun. This plant requires a few years to enlarge and flower, but once its deep roots are anchored, it will live for many years.
Noteworthy Characteristics:  This tall, native prairie plant has interesting leaves and attractive flowers. It's good for a wild garden, herbaceous border, or cottage garden. It does best in heavy soils, and it is drought tolerant.
Care:  Plant in moist, deep, neutral to slightly alkaline soil of moderate fertility in full sun or partial shade. Silphium prefers clay soil.
Propagation:  Sow seed in containers when ripe or divide in spring. Plants may not flower until their second or third year.
Problems:  Nothing serious.

Overview

Height
6 ft. to 10 ft.
Spread
1 ft. to 3 ft.
Growth Habit
Clumps
Growth Pace
Moderate Grower
Light
Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture
Medium Moisture
Maintenance
Moderate
Characteristics
Attracts Butterflies,
Native,
Showy Flowers,
Showy Foliage
Bloom Time
Fall,
Late Summer,
Summer
Flower Color
Primrose Yellow
Uses
Beds and Borders
Style
Meadow Garden,
Woodland Garden
Seasonal Interest
Summer Interest
Tolerance
Drought Tolerant
Type
Perennials

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