Would you like to turn heads with a hardy perennial that’s one of the best-kept secrets in flower gardening? It’s fully winter hardy across North Dakota and Minnesota with its zone 3 rating. It’s low-maintenance, free of insects and disease, rarely needs dividing, is long-lived and tolerates a wide variety of soil types.
What is this under-used perennial flower? Its botanical name is Persicaria polymorpha, better known as giant fleece flower. Where can we get it? This one is rarely found at mass-merchandisers. Locally-owned garden centers that specialize in perennials are the best bet, which is where I bought ours about 6 years ago.
Here are the characteristics of giant fleece flower (Persicaria is also used as a common name):
- Fully winter-hardy in zone 3 with no additional protection
- Tall-growing, 4 to 6 feet. Very useful for background of perennial flower bed, with shorter perennials in front.
- Plant shape is rounded-oval, averaging about 5 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide.
- Flower color is white, becoming pink/brown and persisting late into the season.
- Long bloom time, with white pyramidal-shaped flowers beginning in late June and extending through August. Flowers fade to brownish by fall, but remain decorative.
- In true perennial fashion, the tall plant dies back to ground level each year, and arises newly from the ground each spring. Because of its size and robust nature, it’s often mistaken as a shrub during the growing season.
- Persicaria can be dug and divided, if desired, in early spring just as new growth is emerging.
- The plant can be cut down to ground level in the fall after frost has killed the foliage, or in early spring before new growth begins.
- Giant fleece flower can be grown in full sun or part shade. Growth is best with at least 6 hours of direct sun.
- It increases in clump diameter, but doesn’t spread nuisance-like and doesn’t seed itself.
Persicaria is bound to become more popular as gardeners discover its carefree beauty. It’s fun to begin growing it now, while its rarity adds to it’s mystique. This one’s sure to draw attention to any flower garden. As always, “Happy Gardening.”