Oh no! Don’t chop the spigelia

Do not plant Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica, below) near the edge of a garden bed! 

In fact, there should have been no problem with planting this small, spreading native perennial within inches of the lawn. I mow the small areas of lawn myself. I’ve never ceded this duty to my sons, and certainly not to my wife. I’m careful not to cut corners while mowing, though occasionally a stray branch of the tall euphorbias that flops onto the grass is severed.

The problem began when a pulley on the underside of the mower snapped. My attempt at repair made matters worse, so it was shipped off to be fixed. There were delivery delays for parts that were needed, and the grass was getting long, so I hired a crew to take care of it. They were quite professional, mowing the overly long grass and removing the matted clippings without being asked, and edging the extensive beds areas with a string trimmer. I didn’t expect this part, and here’s where the trouble began. The Indian pink is planted within a few inches of the bed’s edge, and it was flopping a bit in early July so that the trimmer brushed it while clearing grass that was invading the bed area.

I’m certain that the damage wasn’t obvious at the time, but by the next day half the plant was withering, and in another it was obvious the entire top growth of the plant would be lost. I was convinced that the Indian pink could not be revived, and it was only into its second year so there wasn’t much of it anyway. So, it’s not a tragic loss. I figured, I’ll just have to plant another, because the small flowers are really quite splendid, and I had visions that one day it would spread to fill this tiny corner of the garden beneath the Golden Full Moon maple.

I was traveling for a few weeks, and when I returned I was delighted to see that the Indian pink was back, a bit squat, but much wider and more lush than a month earlier (above). I don’t recommend pruning perennials with a string trimmer in mid summer, but this has worked out for the best.

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2 thoughts on “Oh no! Don’t chop the spigelia

  1. For the last year, the rabbits have eaten my spigelia. I have fenced off the rabbits and it’s growing, had one bloom this spring.
    I thought it was a mostly shade plant. How many hours of sun does yours get and how many blooms do you get?

    • This spigelia is only a few years old. It is planted directly beneath a Japanese maple so it gets only filtered sunlight, but it’s in an open area that is fairly bright. As I recall there are three or four flowers per stem, and until it was accidently pruned there were only a few stems in the spring. With a more compact plant after pruning I’m looking forward to more flowers next spring.

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