I want to show you three plants in my garden that I'd describe as "powerful", as they have amazing visual impact and impressive size. They all happen to be Missouri natives too, which is a huge plus.
I'll start it off with a rudbeckia that you might not be aware of. It's not for the small garden but would make a fantastic back row planting: Rudbeckia subtomentosa or "sweet coneflower".
Descriptions say this will get 4-5' (1.2-1.5m) tall, but mine is over 6' (1.8m) -- the parts that are upright that is.
Once it started flowering it flopped a bit, so I had to tie it up.
This flopping (or "leaning") lead to some interesting color combinations though...
...like with Pennisetum 'Vertigo'.
I'm not sure where the "sweet" moniker came from, but deer don't eat this and it seems to love the clay soil. Maybe I should pinch it back next year so it doesn't get as tall?
Moving on to a plant that I've written about quite a bit before: Passiflora incarnata, or Maypop:
This passion flower vine is hardy to zone 6, produces the most intricate fragrant blooms, and is quite vigorous.
Some might say too vigorous as it will grow 15' (4.5m) or more in a single season, dying back to the ground each winter (at least in my zone 6 garden).
It also spreads from its roots, so I have this thing coming up everywhere around the patio now. The unwanted vines are easy to pull though, but you'll need to do it all summer long.
It's worth it though for the bumble-attracting blooms, and you'll even get some edible fruit!
Back to yellow for the third powerful plant of this post, Silphium perfoliatum or "cup plant":
This is really an impressive plant, but don't put it in the front of the bed as it will get 8' (2.4m) tall! Descriptions say that it gets 4-8' tall, but I've never seen a short one. They were all over the little prairie that I visited a few weeks ago with Ted:
This is definitely one that you have to enjoy from a distance, or from underneath:
I never noticed before how cool the blooms are after the petals drop!
Bees of all kinds love the flowers, as do the goldfinches. Unfortunately the deer love this too, which is why I have a short fence around mine. I managed to pot up a few seedlings this year, as they usually get gobbled up.
The common name of "cup plant" comes from the way that the leaves surround the stems...
...which can collect water like a cup, as evidenced here:
I can't say that I've ever seen a bird drinking from these. Probably just more mosquito breeding habitat...
I have a bonus fourth plant that I'll finish with. I'm not sure that it's powerful though, as I haven't gotten it into the ground yet so don't know if it will be as impressive as I hope. It's got potential and the foliage is quite nice too:
It's Prairie Dock, Silphium terebinthinaceum (that's an impressive botanical name -- try saying it!)
Descriptions say that it will get 3-10' (0.9-3.0m) tall, which is quite a range. It's really the bloom stalk that provides the height, and since mine is at least 4' (1.2m) tall in a 1-gallon nursery pot, I'm guessing that the high end of that range is more likely when planted in the ground.
More blooms coming...
..but the seed heads are really nice too:
It should do well in clay soils, but I suspect that deer will eat this too -- I think they like everything in the Silphium genus. I need to choose a spot for this guy and get him into the ground so I can see what it does next year! I'll collect some seeds too if I can, as I think this would look better planted in a group, and backup plants would be good.
So that's my look at some powerful natives. Are you growing any of these?