Garden Photo of the Day

A stunning, underused native plant

Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

I wish I wasn’t so surprised every time I happen upon this plant in a garden. Problem is, it doesn’t happen very often. Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica, USDA Hardiness Zones 5-9) is native to the southeastern United States and is a stunner in a woodland or moist garden. It prefers partial shade and fertile, well-drained soil, but will tolerate full sun if its soil is consistently moist. Its spring clusters of tubular crimson flowers, with tips that flare open to reveal the yellow interiors, are atop 2-foot-tall stems on plants up to 18 inches wide. Bonus: the flowers are highly attractive to hummingbirds.

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  1. Annedean 10/13/2010

    What a lovely surprise to see this beautiful photo today! Later this morning I'm driving down to Fairweather Gardens in Greenwich, New Jersey, to pick up an oakleaf hydrangea we've planned to add to to our garden for a long time. I needed to purchase something else to make the minimum order, and quickly chose a native plant I've never seen growing-- Spigelia marilandica. So I'll be planting three of them this afternoon in our garden for birds and butterflies. A happy coincidence to find this photo! I'll look forward to seeing these blooming next year.

  2. lilyfire 10/13/2010

    I am so happy to see this plant recommended on this site. This is truly a lovely plant. It thrives and flowers just fine underneath a black walnut tree. My gardening friends who are fortunate to be visiting when these flower all stop and coo. It also reblooms for me in late summer. I am told it is not easy to find but just in case a Missouri gardener is reading this they can find it more than likely at Missouri Wildflowers in Brazito, Mo. One friend though said she had to be put on a waiting list for it. It is worth the trouble to search for it.

  3. Deanneart 10/13/2010

    Love this plant and in fact have one waiting for the fall plant shuffle to get it in the ground.

  4. Bonnielou 10/13/2010

    Just a question....what is it's growing pattern? I have found that some fun natives or plants that have a spreading habitat are close to being invasive. How does this on rank? Need a large space? It is a knockout...

  5. FAWNANNETTE 10/13/2010

    I LOVE Indian Pink. Live in tidewater Virginia, zone 7a/b. This native is listed on Operation Rubythroat website as one of the Top Ten Attractive Nectar Plants for Hummingbirds. Truly a Star!

    Our group of Spigelia marilandica blooms about May 18th, 33 days after the first adult, male rubythroated hummingbirds have arrived. Interestingly enough, the adult female rubythroated hummingbirds arrive only a couple days after the Indian pink begins to bloom. Perfect timing! Territorial adjustments take place and then mating commences. Hummer swing dancing and cooing/chirppety-buzzes in the shrubbery. Ooooh lala! I have only seen this native on sale retail at ValleyView Farms, 11035 York Road, Cockeysville, MD 21030. North Creek Nursery will sell you flats but they are wholesale.

  6. FAWNANNETTE 10/13/2010

    To answer your concern. No, not invasive. Does not spread out. The original plant densifies and sends up more stems. I split one plant five years ago. The mother and daughter plants did ok. It does like consistent watering in sun as Michelle notes. It is btw for pollenation totally dependent upon hummingbirds.

    I am in a mind to buy more for placing in my rose garden, in between rose bushes. I have other hummingbird nectar plants in the rose garden now. This past Saturday, October 9th I spotted a very late rubythroated hummingbird juvenile nectaring on Giant Hummingbird Agastache X 'Tutti Frutti', a tall ~ 4' - 5' hybrid A. barberi X A. mexicana. The bloom time for Spigelia marilandica is very long, until the first week in August. Essentially this native has evolved to supply abundant nectar for the time of year when its pollenator is present in greatest numbers.

  7. arboretum 10/13/2010

    this is one of my all time fav perennials. i first saw it blooming in Framingham MA's Garden in the Woods. I finally found it for sale at the wonderful Broken Arrow Nursery in Haddam CT, where Carl brings in a terrific assortment of unusual things every yr.(they also sell mail order.)

    btw, for anyone wondering, the colors in this photo are accurate; very saturated colors!

  8. VeggieQueen 10/13/2010

    Love this little plant. And a shade lover that attracts hummingbirds! BONUS!!

  9. LSost 10/14/2010

    Indian Pink really is beautiful, but I couldn't grow them (zone 5 Connecticut). I tried a shady spot, I tried containers, I tried a little sunnier spot with plenty of water. They always started out so promising and really were lovely, but all melted away in a season and did not come back, no matter what conditions I tried them in.

  10. user-7007351 01/09/2015

    Great Photo. I have never tried Indian Pink before, but I am going to plant it in my wooded area this spring. It is absolutely beautiful. I am in zone 8b so I think it will do fine. The trend of using more native species is becoming more popular, I am so pleased! I am slowly having many customers, here in Greensboro, request using native plants for their designs. Thanks for sharing your photo with us. I also have a list of resources that could help your readers:
    Have a great week and stay warm!

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