11 October 2010

Vernonia lettermannii

Those of you where were at the garden bloggers meet up in Buffalo this summer may remember I was just slightly excited about a certain Vernonia lettermannii I picked up at a nursery we visited. And by slightly excited, I mean of course, insanely, annoyingly, goofily thrilled, talking about it constantly and covering up the tag and asking people to guess what it was.
I was so thrilled because everyone was guessing things like "Amsonia" because the leaves are so amazingly thin and marvelous -- and yet, it is Vernonia! Aka, ironweed, which typically is a giant plant with big wide leaves and lovely masses of purple flowers like this:
Photo credit
So I was all excited at the thought of those flowers on a plant with lovely little leaves.
And now, at long last, mine is flowering and I'm a wee bit disappointed. This is it, in full bloom:
The leaves are all one could ask for, but I'm excessively disappointed with the flower power. Does anyone else grow this species? Will it get better once it has settled in? If not... guess I'm going to have to try and hybridize it with another species of vernonia... come to think of it, I'd like it to be taller as well...

10 comments:

Christine B. said...

I hope you'll decide to give the chap a break. He would probably enjoy settling in for a year or two before the big show. Of course, he'd need more than that to settle in where I live.

Looks promising and hope you'll fill us in next year on the progress or lack of.

Christine in Alaska

allanbecker-gardenguru said...

I am very curious to know why you need to hybridize this plant when its relative, V.noveboracensis, is know to grow 200 cm. tall yet its flower power at that height is also disappointing.
My experience with this tall perennial leads me to conclude that it is only noticeable when planted in concentrated numbers.

Lorraine said...

Oh, gosh, It had so much promise, and I admit to being one of the envious ones on the "short bus" in Buffalo. Maybe it'll do better next year -- keep us posted!

Greensparrow said...

Christine,
I'm certainly not pulling it out -- I still like the leaves, and the flowers aren't ugly, just less than amazing. We'll see how it does next year.

Allen Becker,
Oh, I basically feel the need to hybridize EVERYTHING. That is just how I am. I like noveborancesis -- it will never match mums for sheer flower number, but it is better than this. Regardless of flowering, I'd also love to have these narrow leaves on something taller... a little more like Helianthus salicifolius. Though I suppose I could just plant Helianthus salicifolius... but that just wouldn't be as much fun.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Give it a year or two to settle in. It might surprise you. I don't grow it, so I can't say for sure, but I am thinking about getting one.

scottweberpdx said...

Interesting...I agree, I think in a year or 2 they will be more impressive...then again, hybridizing opens up a lot of possibilities :-)

Annie Hayes said...

Hi Joseph! We grow V. altissima which I love . it gets quite tall to 5' at least and has really large richly colored umbels(?). And its bloomin in our garden now !

Gail said...

Joseph, I noticed it and searched the nursery till I found one. It's a tiny little thing and I am hoping it will make a bigger impression next summer when it's had time to settle in and grow to its full 3 foot spread and height! Hybridize away and please let me trial it my garden when you do! gail

larrynow said...

I found this plant last year and was searching all over the internet for info! I too was slightly underwhelmed the first year. There were some beautiful pics of it!!!
It should prove to be a good plant to mask the lower half of Heliopsis helianthoides Summer Sunset.

Marti said...

Hi,
I found your blog post while searching for ironweed varieties. I have come across one near me in North Texas and it looks a lot like the one you have here. The ones I found are in an area that has never been plowed, so I assume they are native, yet Vernonia lettermannii doesn't show to be native in Texas. Has yours stayed small, and have you found it roots to go deep and hard like giant ironweed? thanks! Marti