This wonderful north American Native is by far the largest most exotic and showy plant to be grown in the garden.
It is a perennial that dies down to the ground in winter. In late spring it sends up a clump of thick unbranched stems with large mid green triangular or hear shaped leaves. On mature plants the stems will grow up to seven feet tall and form a cluster of flower buds at the tip.
The flowers which bloom from mid summer until early fall are huge 4-6" across and almost as long sometimes with a darker center but always with a large showy bright yellow stigma. Petals are usually a deep rose pink color, but some plants are lighter pink and rarely white in this native version. Blooms come one after another for about 6-8 weeks and stand out right across the garden. They are loved by bumble bees and humming birds.
The flowers are followed by large rounded seed pods on the ends of the tall stems. These are attractive in themselves and can be used in dried flower displays or left in the garden to provide winter interest in the more barren times. Cut stems down in early spring before new growth begins.
This plant does require full sun, but even though it is normally considered a wetland plant and will happily grow in standing water it will also grow well in dryer soil provided it has full sun. Place in on a slope where it will get some summer runoff and it's very happy. It will tolerate many conditions but not shade. It is very hardy and grows easily from seed. Sometimes it will flower in the first year but more normally the first large flowers appear in the second year and just keep getting more numerous as the years go by. If it plant becomes too large dig it up in the early spring before the shoots are showing and divide it into several portions.
It is an excellent plant for rain gardens and gives every garden that tropical look without actually living there. Should be considered a must for any sunny garden.
Although many cultivars are now available for those interested in a natural garden this native is the best option.
Grows in all zones hardy 1-10.