Looking for tall spikey plants for my garden

aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. CanadaOctober 8, 2008

I'm looking for plants taller then two feet in the blue, pink or purple range. I use to grow purple loosestrife but dug them all up and disposed of them about 10 years back. I want to include some taller spikey perennials similar to veronicas in the garden, any suggestions? Is there a Veronica that grows two foot or higher?


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christinmk z5b eastern WA

Oh, another one of my favorite textures in the garden, spiky!
I don't grow any Veronica that is over a foot or so tall, but I would't doubt that there is one.
Veronicastrum. Mine never did anything, but maybe you could grow them. I know they can get up to five feet tall or so, and they come in whites and pinks.
If this is a shady area Ligularia 'The Rocket' has spiky flowers. Actea (bugbane) also has spiky flowers.
Eremurus, Foxtail Lily. A spring bloomer that gets up to six feet tall.
There is also a bunch of grasses that have rather erect foliage that looks 'spiky'.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 1:48AM
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The only one I can think of and I want to try it too, is veronicastrum.

Of course, there is always the one I can't grow: Delphiniums.
Oh, and digitalis (I can and do grow) and cimicifuga racemosa that I have never tried.

I do have calamagrostis Karl Foerster and it grows very upright and spikey

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 5:44AM
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Isn't there a tall Veronica called Grand Spires?


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 9:30AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

What about Salvias, I keep seeing a purplish spikey flower with a reddish cast in garden videos but no-one ever says what it is.
Anyone growing Agastaches, another plant I've never grown. I've tried growing the tall purple lobelia but it wouldn't winter for me, I love Delphiniums but they don't love me. A

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 11:14AM
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midnightsmum (Z4, ON)

I know many people find these invasive, but I really like obedient plant - you just have to shovel prune it back. Also, I have had some lovely verbascums - butterflies seem to like them. I guess they are borderline here cause I never seem to be able to keep them.

Nancy - who may try them again!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Verbascum Pictures

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 11:25AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I was thinking about Obediant Plant but I would never reccomend such a monster! If you do go with it try the verigated one, its less invasive.
I thought Actaea (cimicifuga) would be really difficult to grow, but it is thriving. It has tall white plumes that have a funky smell.
How about Lupine and Baptisia? The flowers on those are spiky.
Another favorite of mine is Aconitum- Monkshood. its a relative of Delphinium and extremly poisonous. I adore it and its easier to grow in my garden than Delphiniums.
And there are lots of salvias with spiky blooms.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 12:00PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I've got a couple of Monkshoods, and I have Cimicifuga Brunette love the scent of this one, I'm think something in the Salvia Family might be what I'm looking for I just have to find the right variety. I'm really looking for something in the blue, purple or pinkish colors, similar to the shape of Veronicas. A

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 12:24PM
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Nell Jean

Salvia leucantha (Mexican bush sage) has a few bloom spikes in the spring, then really shows off starting late September. In your cooler summers, they might act differently, but I think they're day-length sensitive. Nice purple, perennial in zone 8, dying to the ground and returning early. There's a solid purple and a purple with white.

I posted a butterfly thread in the Gallery that has sulphurs on S. leucantha. I'll post a better view of the salvia later.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 12:39PM
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The tallest purple sage is Russian, which I believe can grow up to 4'x4'. The flowers stalks resemble lavender in color and appearance.

The Russian sage called Perovskia has a blue tone to the flowers, plus the flower stalks are branching spires rather than just spires. Perovskia flowers show up better than traditional Russian sage. Perovskia grows about 3' tall by 2' wide, and the flower stalks are extremely long-lived. I've got a young Perovskia which went into to bloom in late spring, it is still blooming.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 2:15PM
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I love these agastaches and salvias because they bloom for months:

Agastache 'Purple Haze', 'Black Adder', 'Salmon & Pink', 'Blue Fortune'

Salvia greggii 'Dark Dancer', salvia uliginosa (pale blue/white), salvia 'Purple Majesty', salvia 'Black & Blue'


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 4:17PM
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If you want spiky foliage that's about 2-3 feet tall, but an early bloom of orange, red or yellow, that could add some contrast, you could try red hot poker, also called torch lily. My foliage is still looking good in the flower bed.

I can't think of other spiky flowers. Oh, hey, Wichita Mountain Goldenrod has spikes with flowers all up and down them, and mine are about 3 feet tall. I have photos on my new blog, called A Corner Garden. I'll put the address and see if it turns into a link. http://acornergarden.blogspot.com/


    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 9:54PM
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Sidalcea 'Party Girl'is a nice spiky pink in my garden. Check out the link below for another sidalcea that looks pretty.

Liatris is also spiky and purple. Another that I like is persicaria 'Firetail' with dark pink spikes late summer. Stachys monieri ÂHummelo is another spiky plant that's purple and approx. 20-24" tall.

There's also larkspur which is a reseeding annual but blooms all summer and fall for me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sidalcea

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 10:27AM
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That sidalcea is beautiful.

I forgot about the stachys hummelo (and I just wrote about it in my blog). Mine is about knee-high here in zone 7.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:10PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Thanks Guys, lots of great choices to choose from, I had Sidalcea years ago and it did do well for me. Stachys are beautiful plants, has anyone grown Primrose Heron the one with the lime green foliage? You don't seem to be able to buy that one anymore.
Agastache and Salvias I haven't grown before so will be looking into those and I'm going over to Sue's (Plantlady 999) to dig up her Russian Sage :o).
Chris, Obedient Plant died out on me twice so I don't think it would be a problem plant in my garden LOL.
I've been writing down all these choices and the list will be going with me when I visit the different nurseries in the spring. We've got two extremely good nurseries on the Island and another I really like on the mainland that are sure to have a lot of the plants mentioned here.
Thanks again for your help, much nicer then looking through catalogs, if you think of any more feel free to add to the list.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 9:28PM
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libbyshome(z9a BC)

Wait, wait.

I agree about the taller salvias.

About that checker mallow (Sidalcea 'Party Girl'). It's another of those doesn't look like the picture ones because in the picture it's a bunch of them pulled together.
It grows fairly tall, but is sparsely flowered. I was disappointed with it.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 10:52PM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

I have to disagree with you Libby. Sidalcea is an adorable little plant (though not what i'd consider 'spiky'). I grow both 'Party Girl' and 'Stark's Hybrid' (can't tell the diffrence between them though). I will agree that they don't look much like the pics in mags; in real life the plant doesn't produce all those blooms at once. It looks best in a more naturalistic setting.
Do you specifically want the blooms to be spiky? If you are allowing plants with spiky foliage you could try Crocosmia, which are one of my favorite plants!

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 12:40AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Chris I have a clump of Crocosmia Lucifer, but it's the wrong color for this bed I'm planning for next year. I'm looking at pinks, mauves, purple, grey, white and possibly lemon yellow or white. Reds, oranges and some yellows are out. That's the plan but with me you never know :o).
I have a couple of the short Veronicas which I love but was hoping to find something taller along those lines. This is a small square shaped bed about 8x8 with a 6ft fence on the back side which is covered in Honeysuckle and Clematis tangutica. I'd love to plant Lavender but it wouldn't get the amount of sun it needs so don't think it would fare too well. A

    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 2:42AM
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j_nail(5 Eastern WA)

I was going to mention: Liatris spicata (Gayfeather), but michelle beat me to it. I will add though that it comes in purple and white, you can buy the rootstock (best value) or live plants just about anywhere. White may be a *little bit* harder to come by but not really.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 12:00PM
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teresa_b(z6 MO)

Although an annual, I also vote for larkspur. Gets very tall for me.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 4:14PM
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Nell Jean

Larkspur for the spring, perennial salvia to bloom in fall. Obedient plant is just now in bud in my garden. For the in-between times, gladioli planted in sequence to bloom, about 5 or so at a time, give nice spikes.

Oh, and Abyssinian gladioli (montbretia) for fall -- except mine were too dry or something and didn't bloom this year, but they're a beautiful purple blotch on white blossoms. They did make foliage, so they're not dead.


    Bookmark   October 10, 2008 at 4:31PM
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SusanC(9b/10a Sunset 17)

Salvia 'Indigo Spires' is a very tall Salvia with truly indigo blue blooms. (A lot of pics on the net don't do it justice.)

Lillium regale gets to be almost 6 feet tall in my garden and has huge blooms that are maroonish pink on the outside, white on the inside. It's a spectacular plant and loves my cool coastal climate and shady garden.

Campanula primulifolia is a bellflower that should be more widely used. It gets to be about 3 feet tall and is covered in starry lavender/blue blooms over a long period. -Reseeds too.

Digitalis mertonensis, Strawberry Foxglove, has been a long-lived perennial for me and adds a nice spikey touch in an interesting shade of pink.

I also like to use fancy regular foxgloves for this effect, like 'Candy Mountain', 'Camelot Mix', 'Pam's Choice'.

Although it is only hardy to Zone 9, if I were you I would be tempted to push the zone envelope in a protected spot and try Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'. It definitely gives that lavender like effect in a shady spot, and both the foliage and the flowers are spectacular.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 8:58PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Susanc, I have Campanula primulifolia I grew it from seed it bloomed for the first time this year, I agree more people should be growing this. I am leaning towards the Salvias so will be checking out which ones are available around here.
Oh my, that Plectranthus is a beauty I have grown some Plecs as houseplants if I can find 'Mona Lavender' up my way I'll certainly give it a shot it's a beauty. I'd have to grow it in a container and winter it in the greenhouse though.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 9:40PM
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Hi Annette,
I ordered three agastache 'Blue Fortune' from Bluestone this spring. They were pretty tiny, but they grew like crazy and were beautiful big plants by midsummer. (You can see them in the background of a photo I just posted in the Gallery of my cleomes . . . link below).
Of course the cleomes are spiky and wonderful and worthy of consideration too!)


Here is a link that might be useful: Cleome/agastache

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 10:39PM
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