Although I have just started my internship at the Scott Arboretum, I must express my sentiments toward a certain plant. During my first week I explored the gardens and admired countless plants, yet I kept gravitating towards the Nason Garden. This month in the Nason Garden, Persicaria polymorpha is in bloom with its explosive plumes of creamy white flowers. It is not a subtle plant with its large inflorescences but demands your attention as you enter the space.
The giant fleeceflower is a member of the Polygonaceae family, also known as the knotweed family, which sometimes possesses an undeserved negative connotation. While certain members of this family are notoriously invasive, the giant fleeceflower takes on a controllable clumping habit while still retaining the vigor of its relatives. The vegetative growth of Persicaria species are quite sculptural with their verticality. Personally, I love the internodal lengths of the fleeceflower stems because they follow an undulating pattern that is characteristic of the knotweed family. Contrasting with the upright shoots is strong lateral foliage consisting of lanceolate leaves.
In time fleeceflower will reach an impressive five feet in height or taller. Although the species does have a tendency to increase in width, it will remain controllable, unlike its cousin Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum). Its large shrub like dimensions makes it a suitable plant for the back of a traditional perennial bed, or it can be used up close for its imposing stature.
One of the giant fleeceflower’s greatest characteristics is that it will grow practical everywhere with the exception of shady locations! It thrives in a wide range of soil types, wet sites and becomes drought tolerant once established. These low maintenance characteristics make it an appealing choice for designers and home gardeners alike. With its strong performance and versatile applications, this is a bold plant that many should try growing.