Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.

Welcome to the Kentucky Native Plant and Wildlife Blog.
The purpose of this blog is to provide information on using native plants in the landscape, issues related to invasive exotic plants, urban wildlife management, and wildlife damage management. It is my intention that this information will assist you in deciphering the multitude of information circulating around the web and condense in some meaningful method as it relates to Kentucky. In addition, I hope to highlight a native plant that can be used in the landscape.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Plant of the Week: Royal Catchfly (Silene carolinana)

Stunning when in flower, the royal catchfly gets its name from the sticky flowers and stems that trap small insects. The striking and brilliant red flowers are a hummingbird magnet, and in fact, hummingbirds are required for this plant to set fruit and seed.  The other primary critter that uses this plant is the black swallowtail.  The current range for this species is from Florida to Illinois and over to  Kansas.  It is considered rare, threatened, or endangered in much of it's habitat (tall grass prairie) due to habitat destruction, lack of fire, competition with smooth brome grass, crowding from weeds and invasive plants, digging by plant lovers, and shading by woody species.  Growing from 2 to 4' tall, this plant likes calcareous soils and can tolerate some clay, although it definitely prefers well-drained soils, often loamy or sandy with lots of organic matter.  It is definitely a full-sun plant and will do poorly in the shade.  It produces a multitude of up to 2" wide 5 petaled crimson-red flowers from June through September.  While many flowers are produced, not all of them produce viable seed.  This multi-stemmed plant has downy, lance-shaped leaves with sticky hairs.  This plant loves fire and the seeds germinate better in burned soil where there is no litter layer.  It is fairly easy to grow from seed and once established, it has a central taproot with short rhizomes allowing it to form small colonies that can be divided. This is a very drought tolerant plant. It is susceptible to snails, slugs, whiteflies, spider mites, aphids, smut, rust, stem and leaf fungi.  It is also fairly common in the nursery trade.  Because the stems are weak, it requires support from mid-sized grasses or staking to stay upright.  This is a real show stopping plant in any garden and if you are serious about attracting hummingirds, this is a must-have species.

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