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Silphium terebinthinaceum (prarie dock)

Posted by skoobedoo z6 Va. (My Page) on
Thu, Jul 20, 06 at 15:53

Saw it growing outside in a garden near the Botanic Gardens in Washington DC. My neice gardens in New Jersey (Forked River). She has a large garden and this plant would be a really great addition. The DC climate is not that different from my neice's, yet the hardiness map does not include NJ for this plant. Can someone tell my why She should not try it. I say give it a "go". What you say?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Silphium terebinthinaceum (prarie dock)

It grows fine in SW Michigan. This will self-sow -- has a mind to colonize -- and the flowers are not very showy, but I like them, as, obviously, do the birds.

In the fall, the dead dried leaves are as spectacular as when they're growing green and upright -- they look like the leaves of some wavy water plant, suddenly frozen.

RE: Silphium terebinthinaceum (prarie dock)

I would highly recommend this plant for your niece.

RE: Silphium terebinthinaceum (prarie dock)

The plant almost surely will grow in New Jersey, as the climate there isn't much different from the plant's native Midwest. But be ware that it can take 3 to 5 years or more to finally put up a flower stalk. Like most tallgrass prairie plants, prairie dock spends its first years growing deep (to 8 ft or more) roots, to deal with the frequent Midwest droughts. So unless you plant a seedling (not just seeds), be patient.

Also, the plant requires lots of direct sunlight, preferably at least three-quarters of a day or more of direct sunsine.

It's a stunning plant when mature, with giant elephant ear basal leaves and the tall (up to 9-ft) naked stems, topped by a cloud of 2-inch yellow sunflower-like flowers. For a garden "Wow!" plant, nothing beats this one.

But again, you must be patient with it, especially from seed.

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