Chelone Turtlehead, Good or bad?

melaroma(6)April 20, 2010

I am thinking of getting a couple of Pink Turtleheads to plant in my front yard along with my Astilbe and Hydrangeas. Has anyone here had experience with this perennial? Does it flower well? Is it high maintenance? What are it's ups and downs? What other shade plants would you plant it with? Thanks!

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Oh, I love turtlehead! The blossoms are so cute! It's very low maintenance - I planted one ten years ago and never touched it again until it finally diminished after about six years, so I planted a new one that's still going strong.

I don't have mine in shade, though - it's in my very wet yard, and doesn't seem to mind wet feet at all. Maybe the wet is what lets it tolerate the full sun? I would definitely say if you have damp ground, it should do well. Mine is planted alongside astilbes (in part shade) and hostas, so if those do well in your yard, I'm thinking chelone will, too.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 4:02PM
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coolplantsguy(z6 Ontario)

I use to love mine as well -- one called C. lyonii 'Hot Lips', planted in with Hosta, ferns and Toad Lilies.

It's not a "wow-plant" -- just a subtle beauty in the fall garden. And native too!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 4:12PM
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Good! In my experience, it's been able to tolerate sun, shade, drought and even black walnut trees. I agree it's not a "wow," but it's a nice plant nonetheless.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2010 at 11:17PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Not good, not bad - but excellent! I have "Hot Lips" and it performs really well for me. Foliage is neat and tidy all season, then about late August or so (sometimes a bit earlier) they cover themselves in those gorgeous rosy-pink blooms. Speads at a moderate pace if happy to form good-size colonies, but not invasively so.

I have mine in partial shade, average soil. They will not perform well in soil that is too dry.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 9:05AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Oh, this is making me so sad. Never had any luck with my C. oblique :-( In fact, I think it is dead, lol.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2010 at 12:27PM
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Well I have the hydrangeas which in my opinion are show stoppers and I need something to bloom in the fall so it seems that it will be an excelent choice. Thank you all for responding.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2010 at 2:40PM
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I started some from seed years ago, and planted one of them just to see what they were like. I can't say we've ever had to do one thing to it. It just minds its business and comes back and blooms. I think the flowers are interesting and the foliage decent. Mine is in dry dappled sunlight planted under the snags of an old black locust tree in hard clay soil.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 7:48AM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

Mine spread like mad - I would think twice before putting in a garden bed. The white flowered version behaves just fine, but the pink flowered one takes over.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2010 at 8:00AM
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Gotta garden, were yours planting in sun or shade? What kind of soil? Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2010 at 1:03AM
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gottagarden(z5 western NY)

Mine are in full sun, rich garden soil. I am ripping it out by the bushelfull this spring. I put it in a "thug bed" with beebalm, obedient plant, the spreading yarrow, campanula punctata, coneflower, etc. Turtlehead won hands down.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2010 at 3:10PM
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rebaru(z5 QC)

wow gottagarden, you were so daring to plant those thugs together to duke it out! i wish i had room enough for such an experiment!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 6:01PM
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gottogarden - Bravo! Luv,luv,luv mine - originally planted 2 pots between 2 Quacking Aspens ... Chelone aka Hot Lips, won as well! 1 Q Aspen casualty of a tornado & the other of old age (20-lifespan)! Of the 2, Q Aspen is a pain ... 'am still dealing w/ wandering roots & suckers! Â:(

I'm w/ mxk3! Â;) After 20+ years we just now, dug up 2'x3' for a friend's garden! (Whence found 3 huge roots of Q Aspen ... grrrr!

&&& like dirtdiver's patch - tolerated all the above enumerated, but the Blk Walnuts, instead the old-age drooling of Q Aspen (sticky blackish sap!) ugh!

I love bees ... bees love them ... & I love her name Chelone! What's more, Jack-in-a-Pulpit, found his way to preach in her midst & drunken bees listen!!!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2010 at 9:48PM
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Wow! Ditas, you have completely convinced me that I made a good choice ordering three of these, haha. I love your enthusiasm.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 12:11AM
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Thanks I think! - This gardening *enthusiasm* in my DH's Thesaurus is synonymous w/ *Glut for Punishments* - I have several beloved *invaders* as well as flowering *Divas* that I invited in our piece of soil & enslave to!!!

If you were anywhere near you didn't have to send for 3 pots of lovely 'Chelone'! Make sure to allow room to stretch, OK?

The kidney shaped bed I created eons ago ,was a mere 12'x4' (give or take). I planted a Forever & Ever Hydrangea at one end - a few yrs aft tornado claimed Q Aspen #1. 3 yrs ago was when we took the sap-drooling old 1 - sun didn't faze Hot Lips but Jack grew a small family & the yung-uns complained. So as soon as I'm certain Q Asp. does not show his shadow again - I've dug up & potted my Sweet Autumn, Clem & I plan to create a trellis for her in the vacant lot to climb on ... nothing fancy - just a tiny church/steeple for *Preacher Jack* & family!!!

Have fun w/ the new tenants when they arrive!

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 3:15PM
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oh boy did I have new tenants and even though I left plenty of space they moved into their neighbors properties, I found one trying to grow in the midst of my Annabelle. So.... Off with their heads! JK, I am moving them to the back yard along the back fence where it is somewhat shady. Hope the horses don't munch on them but it's them or my hydrangeas and well you can guess which one I prefer. They are lovely plants but they did reseed at an alarming rate and I like to minimize my work load in the garden not add to it. We will see how they do in their new location and I'll decide next year if I will keep them or not.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 10:13AM
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Melaroma -

Thanks for the follow-up on how this plant performed for you. I try to avoid planting voracious reseeders and I have considered this plant, so am interested in generally where you are so I can judge the relevance of your experience to my garden. Are you midwest, far west, or eastern? Or alternatively what soil type (clay, loam, or sandy, and acid, neutral, or more alkaline?) It is always fascinating to me how differing growing conditions affect the seeding and growth patterns of so many plants.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 6:10AM
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I grew Chelone/white turtlehead from seed via winter sowing last year and it bloomed 1st year. I was a little surprised it bloomed since it only grew about 8-10 inches tall. This year it was up almost as soon as the snow melted. I also have it growing in dappled sun on a north slope and will be interested in seeing how it behaves. I gave it plenty of room until I know its habits.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 9:22AM
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I am in zone 5 in UT with Loam soil and they are planted in half shade. I planted them last year and they came in a 1 gallon pot. Here are pictures of how they spread this year.

Here is how they looked when planted:

Here you can see how they have spread.

In this last one you can see it growing in the middle of my tulips and border of my Jacob's ladder. If it spread like this on the first year I can't imagine how it will do next year!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 2:44PM
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melaroma ~ it's a good thing you decided to move Chelone from the situation shown in your pix ~ she'll weave her way into every little inch of soil between your other treasures there. She'll fill the place in no time just like Threadleaf Coreopsis would! I thin my Chelone/Hotlips plantation as needed ~ even installed a wire fencing wall to keep the new citizens from moving into F&E's small territory at one end of this island. No kidding Chelone territory is a forest ~ a friend's DH dug up a third TG ~ but still love my Chelone country!!!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2011 at 9:49PM
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You know... I kinda decided to leave it there after looking at it again. I know that I should move it but I really like this plant. If I just break off the unwanted volunteers will they come back?

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 12:37AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I started reading this thread last week, since I planted some chelone in a wet bed last fall.

I just realized this morning, as I opened GW and clicked on this thread to read the new comments, with an incredibly sinking feeling, that I may have just yanked the plant last evening, thinking it was a weed because I didn't remember planting anything in that spot. Son of a gun!



    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 8:24AM
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Melaroma ~ You still have time as your Cheloney lyonii population is still small & manageable. D'you know that I never considered self-sowing as a greater attribute for her aggressive spreadability as for her might at weaving her roots, very much like my July blooming Coreopsis that I have to discipline closely as well ~ you can see in this album I plucked from my file just for you. Also since this pix a good 4th of the 10ft C forest was dug up for a friend F&E is a lot happier since!

Hi diggerdee ~ if only you are close by we could dig up clumps & create an instant li'l forest for you - honestly!

Here is a link that might be useful: Chelone few years ago

    Bookmark   May 14, 2011 at 8:57AM
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Wow those pictures of your chelone are gorgeous! Maybe i sould move them to the back where there is more space. Ill have to tackle that tomorrow. I was also wondering if deadheading the plant at some point might help control the new tenants.

Diggerdee, im sorry to hear that. We all make mistakes. Early this spring I was in a snipping frenzy when trying to tidy up my beds and accidentally snipped off a huge portion of my clematis! I had read somewhere that some can be pruned back and others recent it. I trimmed this one down pretty low and my heart sank when I realized what I did. Did you yank the whole thing out?

    Bookmark   May 15, 2011 at 12:44AM
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Hi Melaroma ~ An update on Chelone Island ~ finally built the simple trellis/arbor (of plasti-coated posts & garden wire fencing) for Clem-Autumn Joy to climb over & eventually shade F&E/ES H.

As I mentioned earlier I gave a friend 2ft-worth of Chelone ~ so far the wire barricade held her back w/ a bit of pulling & up rooting ones now & then ~ too bad Diggerdee is not close by! I'm potting some for a friend w/ disclaimers!!! LOL I'm also trying to control the other end to keep them in the center of the island ~ fingers crossed!!!

You could try & let me know ~ however these guys are rhizomatous more than self sowing.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 11:56AM
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I noticed that on Sunday when I was transplanting them. I ended up dividing mine and breaking off the new shoots that were coming from the sides and under. I do have to say that they are tough guys as I dug them up last Wednesday and was not able to put them in the ground until Sunday due to a week straight of pouring rain. They were a bit dry by Sunday though since Saturday was sunny and they were just sitting out (I know, I know). They look lush and happy now in their new yet temporary home as I do not have a bed where I can put them in yet. I guess I will just have to create a new bed just for them... Oh the sacrifice ;) I wonder what else I could plant there... heehee

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 12:21PM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Melaroma, I yanked that sucker out roots and all, lol! But maybe after some of the comments here, I won't regret it - I didn't realize it was such a spreader!

I haven't been back to this garden yet (it's a friend's garden) so I will have to check and see if it was indeed the chelone that I yanked. I'm still hoping it was not the chelone, but I now know to keep an eye on it if it's still there!


    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 3:55PM
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hostaholic2 z 4, MN

I have chelone "Hot Lips" growing in morning sun afternoon shade in rich clay loam and over a period of 10 years it has spread to form a nice clump. It has never shown any tendency to run.'Hot Lips' is a variety of chelone lyonii and seems to be well behaved. I haven't grown chelone obliqua or glabra (white) but from what I've read on various sites obliqua seems to be a vigorous spreader and seeder.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2011 at 10:54PM
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