Once I started working my way into the more naturalized area of the large sun garden, I noticed a great selection of wonderfully tall plants. Some are stunners and some seem to verge on being a bit thuggish. If you have a large sun garden like I do, you know that height is a key design element. But what plants to pick? I asked two friends in the know to pick their top tall prairie plants. Their selections were not unanimous, but their insight is very helpful to keep in mind when selecting your plants.
“Cup plant and Joe Pye weed are rather overwhelming. The volunteers that help us maintain our gardens are always complaining about these two,” shares Kristopher Stone, Director, Boone County (Kentucky) Arboretum. “They like them and think they are ‘cool’ but they often say they are just too huge and unmanageable and that they would never have them in their garden.”
“I have Ratibida and Silphium, and while I enjoy certain features, I am annoyed by their tendency to rampantly self-sow,” shares Paul Koloszar, Horticulturist at Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum (Cincinnati, Ohio). “That might not be something that would deter other gardeners, though. Probably those with either more land, or more time to weed.”
Take away: When selecting plants for any space, ensure that the rate in which they propagate is in balance with the space in which you have to work. If you are looking for one plant to be your tall centerpiece, tread carefully with Ratibida, Silphium and Joe Pye weed.
Here is our master list of tall plants: *indicates a use–with–caution plant
Joe Pye weed* (Eutrochium purpureum)
Joe Pye weed from High Country Gardens
Cup Plant* (Silphium perfoliatum)
Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra)
Queen of the Prairie from American Meadows
Early sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)
Rose Mallow (Hibiscus laevis)
Yellow coneflower* (Ratibida pinnata)
Yellow Coneflower from Prairie Nursery