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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - June 15, 2013

From: Farifax, VA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Non-Natives, Butterfly Gardens, Wildlife Gardens
Title: Replacement for Globe Thistle in Virginia
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi, We are trying to get our garden to be 100% North American Native and are at about 90% native to our region. One of the last plants we have to replace is our Globe Thistle. Do you have a good recommendation for a native replacement? We have a smallish butterfly/ humming bird garden in our front yard next to the front porch. The Globe thistle has been doing well- it isn't at all invasive or bullying our other plants , but he doesn't make the cut when committing to be 100% native. Thanks!

ANSWER:

Nan

The globe thistles (Echinops spp.) are beautiful but, as you said, are not native.  They are native to Europe and Asia.

I visited our Virginia Recommended page of commercially available native plants for landscaping in Virginia and found the following that would be a good replacement for your globe thistle:

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) is a host plant for monarch and queen butterflies.  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Baptisia australis (Blue wild indigo) is attractive to bees and the color is similar to the globe thistle.  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.

Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue mistflower) is a major attractant for butterflies.  Here is more information from Missouri Botanical Garden.  Be sure to note the cautions about its agressiveness.

Eupatoriadelphus fistulosus (Trumpetweed) attracts bees and butterflies.  Birds may consume the seeds.  Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers.

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) attracts bees, butterflies and humingbirds.  Here is more information from North Carolina State University.

Lobelia siphilitica (Great blue lobelia) attracts bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.   Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet beebalm) attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.   Here is more information from Illinois Wildflowers.

Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot) attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.  Here is more information from The Herb Society of America.

Penstemon digitalis (Mississippi penstemon) attracts butterflies and other pollinators.  Here is more information from Rainscaping.

You should also check out other possibilities on the Virginia Recommended page.   You can use the NARROW YOUR SEARCH option to select the criteria you want.

 

From the Image Gallery


Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Blue wild indigo
Baptisia australis

Blue mistflower
Conoclinium coelestinum

Joe-pye weed
Eutrochium fistulosum

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Great blue lobelia
Lobelia siphilitica

Scarlet beebalm
Monarda didyma

Wild bergamot
Monarda fistulosa

Mississippi penstemon
Penstemon digitalis

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