Why plant Audubon® Native American Sweet Flag?
Having a pond on your property is a wonderful way to encourage birds to visit your backyard, and American Sweet Flag is a fine choice for planting pondside. When planted at the edge of large ponds, it may serve as good nesting habitat for ducks and shorebirds; in smaller gardens, it’s simply a nice native plant that looks right at home by the water. At first glance, you might think the strappy foliage belongs to Cattail, but American Sweet Flag is smaller-growing than Cattail, and its leaves have a delightful spicy-citrus fragrance. Some scatter the foliage in cupboards to impart a fresh scent to their linens.
American Sweet Flag is a cool climate–loving species found most abundantly in Canada, the Upper Midwest, and New England. It occurs along lakes, ponds, and bogs, and can grow in up to one foot of water. American Sweet Flag was valued by native peoples for many purposes. The strong but pliable leaves were woven into mats, baskets, and thatched roofs, while the aromatic roots were used as perfume ad insect repellent. The roots were also ingested to treat a variety of disorders, including headaches, fatigue, heartburn, nausea, colds, and arthritis. Sweet Flag can induce vomiting and hallucinations as well, so please don’t eat it!
How to use Audubon® Native American Sweet Flag in the landscape?
American Sweet Flag is often confused with a closely related Eurasian Sweet Flag that has naturalized in the U.S. The American form produces fertile seeds; the exotic variety does not, though it has still managed to spread widely throughout the eastern states and in isolated pockets in the West.
Hardiness Zone: 3-6
How To Plant Audubon® Native American Sweet Flag
Constant moisture is a must for American Sweet Flag. It will even grow submerged in up to 12 inches of standing water. In dry conditions, it may survive, but the foliage will suffer. Give it a full sun position or one in very light shade. Sweet Flag expands steadily via sturdy rhizomes (rootlike underground stems); don’t place it near more delicate plants. In small water gardens, it could be grown in a container to control its spread. The foliage is evergreen and may not need to be cut back in spring, but if it does need a haircut, it will be a pleasant, aromatic task!
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 slowly and thoroughly. Watering needs may be altered due to extreme weather conditions. Sweet Flag likes lots of water.
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.