We’re getting closer and closer to planting season, and the question that’s on everyone’s mind is: “what can I add to my garden to put those winter months behind me?” Even though we’re a few weeks into spring, the weather can still feel a bit December-ish. Well, we’ve got an answer for you. Our April ‘Species of the Month’ is the Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum), and it’s a low-growing plant with showy flowers that does best in dry soil conditions. If you’re looking for a plant that’ll help you transition into spring, then this is the one for you.
Smoke on the Prairie
One of the most notable characteristics about Prairie Smoke is its unique, drooping flowers. These flowers bloom into a reddish-pink to light purple colour in late spring. These are truly a beautiful sight when you have a section of the ground covered in Prairie Smoke, but what’s maybe even more interesting are the fruiting heads that follow. As the flower fades and the seeds begin to form, the styles elongate to form upright, feathery gray tails which collectively resemble a plume or feather duster. This is what gives the plant its name, ‘Prairie Smoke,’ as it can resemble a plume of smoke wafting over a field.
The Drier the Better
Talk about shaking off the winter blues. This plant not only blooms into a very springy pink colour, it actually thrives in drier conditions. Prairie Smoke is best grown in dry, well-drained soils in full sun. The plant will tolerate light shade, and during the hotter days, prefers some afternoon shade, but for the most part is averse to full watering. Prairie Smoke may be grown in medium moisture, but the plant will almost surely die out if it’s subjected to wet winter soil conditions.
Like many of the plants we grow at St. Williams, Prairie Smoke is a friend to the bumblebee, and other potential pollinators that are strong enough to get into the flowers. The ripe seeds produced by the plant are quite fragrant as well and has been used to make perfume. Because it’s drought tolerant and prefers dry conditions, Prairie Smoke is an excellent choice for planting on a green-roof if you’re looking to make your building more energy efficient. Prairie Smoke is low-growing and plays well with a selective group of plants. It makes a great accompaniment to a rock garden or to other low-growing species, such as: Early Buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis), Nodding Wild Onion 9Allium cernuum), Cylindrical Blazing Star (Liatris cylindracea), Pale Purple Coneflower (Echinecea pallida), and Upland White Aster (Solidago ptarmicoides).
If you’ve started planning your low-growing gardening or landscaping project for this year, you don’t want to miss out on the beautiful, and aromatic Prairie Smoke (Geum Triflorum). Gazing at your garden every day will serve as a stark reminder that we’re through the cold months and are ready to enjoy the warm weather of spring and summer…Just like this fuzzy little plant.
For more info, and to order our species of the month, click here. There’ll be more on Prairie Smoke this month, including ‘Fast Facts,’ ‘Did You Know,‘ and a ‘Species of the Month’ video! So stay tuned to stwilliamsnursery.com, and our Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube pages.