Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Two Weeds or Two Wildflowers?

Since I did not grow up in this area and am a relatively new gardener, there is much I don't know about native North Carolina wildflowers.  Being a rather laid-back (i.e. lazy) gardener, I am quite willing to let interesting weeds grow in the hope that they are really wildflowers.

Sometimes this works out well for me.  Sometimes... well, there's no need to dwell on the carefully tended ragweed that Mr. Red House was so allergic to, is there..?

This summer, two interesting weeds have possibly developed themselves into full-fledged wildflowers.  The first left me quite puzzled for a while:

Getting excited.. what is this going to be?
Um.. is this some sort of alien flower?
What in the world are those sprout things sticking out of the top?!
Ahhh.. now I know what you are!
When the bloom finally opened up fully, I realized that it is indeed a wildflower of the Monarda family!

It is quite ironic that, while this chance Monarda that sprouted in between my daisies is quite healthy,  the three Monarda plants that I actually purchased this year are doing quite poorly and barely surviving.  Monardas spread quite quickly (or at least I thought they were supposed to, until I had trouble even growing my purchased plants); hopefully my wildflowers will not bully themselves back onto the weed list!

See those bright magenta purple Monarda blooms way up there in the tree?  Yeah, this plant is about 4 or 5 feet tall!
Can any of you fabulous gardeners identify what type of Monarda it is for me?  Monarda media, maybe?



The next wild flowering plant that has made its presence known in my garden is this pretty white flowering vine.


Definitely in the Morning Glory family, the bloom looks much like that of Wild Potato Vine, but the leaves are unusual.


I am hesitant to upgrade this plant to welcome wildflower status.  Many Morning Glories, such as Bindweeds, are notorious thugs and hard to eradicate.


So which should it be - Weed or Wildflower?  Can any of you more experienced gardeners identify this one for me?  It is pretty...


..but I don't want to encourage a 'wildflower' that is going to take over my backyard!

For more native wildflowers, check out Wildflower Wednesday over at Clay and Limestone!

23 comments:

  1. I'm so glad your "weed" turned into such a pretty Monarda! I do the same thing every year--allowing some volunteers to grow until I figure out what they are. One year I had a nice tall stand of what my dad finally identified as horse weed:) Needless to say, they got pulled out immediately.

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    1. Sounds like my ragweed venture :) Oh well, sometimes you luck out and end up with something pretty!

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  2. I love morning glories! I have a bloom like this in my yard, but I will have to check the leaves to see if it is the same plant. Just think, even if it is a weed and takes over the back yard, your yard will be covered in flowers and you'll never have to mow : )

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    1. It is in sort of the middle of nowhere in the back yard, so I'm tempted to let it run for a little bit. I just don't want to end up with a problem on down the road..

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  3. I'd sure be hesitant about keeping the morning glory/bindweed looking plant. I, too, am a "let it grow until I can figure out whether I want it" gardener and you scored a real winner with the Monarda, BUT...I'd say better to be safe than sorry with the other.

    Oh, for the record? My husband thinks I'm nuts about letting "weeds" grow until I can identify them too!

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    1. I'm glad I'm not alone with letting the interesting weeds grow to identify them!

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  4. Discovering new wildflowers is really fun! That's exactly how I got started with my wildflower love affair~Pretty soon you will be very good at id-ing them! So very glad you have a lovely monarda and not a weed; I would carefully watch the ipomea, some can get out of hand. gail

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    1. Yeah, I'm fairly sure its some sort of Ipomoea pandurata, which is beneficial to butterflies and the like, but can get a little aggressive in certain locations. It's currently in the middle of nowhere in my backyard, so it's okay if it runs for a little bit. In fact I was hoping for a vine there that would climb up our swingset, but just a more behaved one!

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  5. I like a cup of tea with monarda, do you? Nice flower!

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    1. I didn't know before that Monarda is good in tea. But then, I don't like tea. I'll have to invite some tea-drinkers over and see if they want to try some Monarda tea!

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  6. I would have to guess Monarda fistulosa. I'm afraid Grandpa Ott cured me of giving morning glories a chance. I don't think I'll ever get rid of them all. The plant is a thug and strangles those wround it,but they do have a lovely flower

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    1. I've thought maybe Monarda fistulosa, though those don't seem to be as bright or dark a color as this one...

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  7. Love the monarda, and it is funny that the ones you purchased have not done as well as the volunteer! Good luck with it. The other flower, though, looks like it could easily turn into a thug!

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    1. I'm not sure whether to try to move the Monarda over to where I want Monardas, or to be happy some pretty flowers are growing in that location :) They are obviously happier in that site than the other!

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  8. Beautiful blooms!
    I let Morning Glory grow only in a spot that I can mow a wide swath completely around. Therefore any babies outside the area get mown down.
    Happy gardening!
    Lea
    Lea's Menagerie

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    1. These are far from the rest of the garden, so I'm tempted to let it grow and climb up our swingset. I might give it another year and keep a close eye on it!

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  9. Monardas do look rather weedy before they bloom. I'm not crazy about their foliage, but the flowers are fascinating. Do you think the second one might be a Moonflower? This page describes various Ipomoea subspecies: http://bit.ly/MtlyjG. I frequently wait to see the blooms before digging, because so many plants--especially natives--have nondescript foliage.

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    1. Thanks for the link! The more I look, the more it seems to be Ipomoea pandurata (wild potato vine), and people have said that it does have some varying leaf shape, especially while young. If so, it is a native and attractive to butterflies and moths, but rather aggressive.

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  10. This variety looks like one that will take over your garden. I grow a lot of Monarda and did a post that shows where it is native. I cannot leave the chart, but can leave the link. http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com/2011/07/07/the-monarda-speaks/

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    1. Thanks for the link! I love your little short Monarda!

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  11. Hey Pal...I come bearing gifts...here... http://www.tidygardensbyjane.co.uk/2012/06/pour-moi.html

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  12. I LOVE wild sweet potato!!! Don't let your visitors scare you away from growing that delightful native!

    I do everything I can to encourage wild sweet potatoe, and I never have too many! They are difficult to grow from seed, and rarely produce any.

    The monardas... Those can be overwhelming in a wet area...

    I can't hardly grow those wetland monardas, but the dryland ones (horse mint, lemon mint) do very nice for me.

    Glad to hear that you embrace my weeding strategy, It aint a weed, if it doesn't have a name.

    While I had some interesting problems show up at my last garden after curbside compost gathering, The neat plants far out-number the uncool customers.

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