Thursday, February 14, 2013
Much Maligned: Gooseneck Loosestrife
I'm sure the above plant, gooseneck loosestrife, is the bane of some gardeners somewhere.
It's runner roots, once established are probably the reason for its bad reputation. It does well, though, confined to a pot as it likes to be root-bound to send up its blooms. It does not cross with the invasive purple loosestrife, which is a different genus altogether. Loosestrife takes a couple years to establish itself, and here does not seem to set viable seed. I find its long blooming, nodding flower heads very attractive and like it planted in drifts. Every thug has its best space and this lysimachia can be used to advantage in sandy soil for erosion control of an unmowable bank. Bees and hummingbirds both find it attractive as a food source. I had a large patch of it around my much-frequented "bee bath" last summer.
It flowers are long-blooming and cutting back terminal buds encourages axial buds to form and bloom. The blooming season starts late June and early July and lasts 4 to 6 weeks. It will tolerate wet feet, although once established, it can be drought resistant. It grows to about 12" to 18" in height. Not often found anymore in the retail market, it can be propagated from root cuttings. Digging up roots and replanting them within 1/2" of the surface of the soil in an area where you would like to establish this plant is probably the easiest way to propagate this perennial. If the roots you are moving have any top growth, cut it back severely as it will only wilt and slow the rooting process. Established plants can be difficult to transplant for this reason.
Personally, this is a plant I like to grow, its reputation undeserved.