Why plant Audubon® Native Culvers Root?
This stately Spirit will lend a structural element to your garden. In summer, Culver’s Root raises its slim white spikes, arranged symmetrically around a central spire, high in the sky. Garden writers Piet Oudolf and Henk Gerritsen call the look “Gothic.” Even before flowering, however, the plant is architectural. The dark green leaves climb the stems in clearly defined tiers of foliage. Not merely eye candy, Culver’s Root is valuable to pollinators, too. It nourishes native bees and butterflies, while looking sharp in the landscape. Use it in mixed borders, foundation plantings, cottage gardens, and wildlife-friendly spaces of all sorts.
This plant reportedly gets its name from an early eighteenth–century physician, Dr. Culver, who used it medicinally, as a laxative. No other information seems to remain about him, though his name lives on in the plant. Culver’s Root is a cherished American Spirit that many regions can claim as a native wildflower. It can be found in the wild from North Dakota to Maine in the North and from East Texas to Florida in the South (it also ranges into Canada). Native bees cherish Culver Root for its generous offerings of nectar and pollen. Bumblebees, mason bees, masked bees, and sweat bees are its biggest fans.
How to use Audubon® Native Culvers Root in the landscape?
Try Culver’s Root with Garden Phlox, another American native Spirit. The chunky pink cones of the Phlox will contrast nicely with the skinny white spikes of Culver’s Root. They bloom at the same time, and both like to grow in the same conditions.
Hardiness Zone: 3-8
How To Plant Audubon® Native Culvers Root
Culver’s Root favors full sun or light shade. Afternoon shade is recommended in the South, though an excess of shade can lead to floppy stems. This plant is not particularly drought tolerant and must either be watered during dry spells or planted in a low spot that naturally stays moist. It is slow growing and takes a few years to really shine. Once it bulks up, however, it becomes a magnificent specimen. It is long-lived and doesn’t need to be divided to keep it growing vigorously, like some perennials do. Leave stems standing for winter architecture, then cut them down in early spring.
How To Water
Water twice weekly for the first 3-5 weeks; then water weekly for the remainder of the year until winter. When you water, water very slowly and very thoroughly. The water needs to reach to the bottom of the root ball and that takes time. Watering needs may be altered due to extreme weather conditions.
How To Fertilize
Incorporate Elements Starter Plant food granular form into the soil when planting. If planting in spring or summer start fertilizing late fall using Elements Starter Plant food granular form on an annual basis each late year. Continue this for three years to get your plant well established.
How To Prune
Each fall, just before winter sets in clean up the previous years foliage and compost it. Be sure your perennials are mulched well for winter protection. Two inches of an organic mulch will do the job. Consider leaving the plant debris in place through the winter and doing your clean up on the weather warms in the spring. While it doesn't make things neat and tidy, the debris provides overwintering protection for insects, their eggs and pupae including our native Viceroy butterfly.
We are always looking for different things to add that are pollinator friendly for our zone. My daughter picked this one. It planted well and so far is thriving.
Hi Nancy -
Thank you so much for your kind words and review - we truly appreciate them as well as you! If you ever have any questions about your plants, please don't hesitate to reach out :) We hope you enjoy your plants for years to come!
- Bower & Branch Plant Whisperers