The Return of the Prodigal Ironweed
Has something like this ever happened to you? I planted some ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata) in the fall of 2010. The following spring there is no sign of it. I assume they didn’t make it through the winter. All through 2011 ironweed seemed as absent from my garden as coconut palms.
Fast forward to this summer. I saw some tall weeds nestled among the other plants. Are they really weeds? I decide to let them get a little bigger to see what they turn into. A couple weeks later, I’m still not sure. I reach to pull them out … but then … Could it be? Yes, my ironweed had returned!
What was it doing, where had it been hiding all this time? Perhaps last year it broke dormancy late and never put on much top growth because it was putting down roots. It certainly didn’t bloom – then the torch of red-purple flowers would have been unmistakable. It’s possible that I mistook it for some stems of blue culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum ‘Temptation’). The flowers of these two species are completely different, but otherwise the plants have a vague similarity.
In any case, I am very pleased my ironweed has been found again. This plant blooms in a cluster on top of an upright 4-6′ stalk. Bloom time is in late summer and fall. I promise to post photos when they bloom.