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FILIPENDULA rubra

Image of Filipendula rubra

James H. Schutte

Family

Rosaceae

Botanical Name

FILIPENDULA rubra

Plant Common Name

Martha Washington's Plume, Prairie Meadowsweet, Queen-of-the-Prairie

General Description

For a short time in early summer this elegant prairie plant bears fuzzy, pink clusters of flowers. The impressive blooms give credence to the common name, queen-of-the-prairie. Like many herbaceous perennials adapted to the vast prairies of eastern North America, it is fully herbaceous, very hardy and a perfect partner to attractive bunch grasses. It is tall and forms a substantial bushy, upright, clump that will slowly spread over time.

Large, deeply lobed, almost maple-like leaves grace this substantial garden plant from spring to fall. The leaves are coarsely toothed, medium to light green and have one to seven lobes. The stems are green to reddish green. For about three weeks in midsummer the plants produce tall, sturdy stems that rise above the foliage. These become topped with branched clusters of small, pink, five petaled flowers with long, white stamens that lend the clusters a light, foamy look. The lightly fragrant flowers are primarily pollinated by bees and beetles but butterflies also visit them.

Full to partial sun is required for best growth and flowering. Grow queen-of-the-prairie in moist, fertile, organic-rich soil with a neutral to slightly acid pH. It is not drought tolerant, so be sure to supply it with regular water during dry periods. Its spent foliage should be cut back in fall after a couple of hard frosts. This is the best time to divide it too. This tall perennial wildflower is ideal for naturalistic borders and prairie gardens. It looks super planted with bunch grasses and colorful summer bloomers. It is also perfect for naturalizing. The popular cultivar, 'Venusta', is slightly shorter and has particularly vibrant, dark rosy pink flowers.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    3 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    A1, A2, A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    6'-8' / 1.8m - 2.4m

  • Width

    3'-4' / 0.9m - 1.2m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    North America, United States, Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, South-Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral, Alkaline

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Mixed Border, Wildflower

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes