Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Case of Mistaken Identity!?!

periscaria inverleith  482
Last year, towards the end of the growing season, I was poking around one of our local nurseries and spotted some Persicaria. For some reason, last year was the year that our local nurseries decided they didn't feel like carrying any sort of Persicaria, so when I saw these 2, I snapped them up without a 2nd thought. I'd been admiring them in many of the Gardening magazines I read and had been wanting some more for my garden. The label said that this variety was 'Taurus', one of the red-flowered ones that gets about 3' tall and wide. I got it home and popped it into the expanding north border.

persicaria inverleith  479
At the time, I remember thinking the plant seemed far more dainty and compact than most of the Persicarias I'd seen around town (mostly 'Firetail'). Most of the ones I'd been seeing had quite large leaves and very open form...their flowers were also long and wispy. My little Persicaria was short, compact and had stubby little blooms. I decided it was just young and would attain it's rightful size the following season.

periscaria and little bluestem  481
Towards the end of our growing season last year, I began to get really attached to this diminutive little plant...and was kinda sad thinking that it wouldn't have the same charming scale next year. I was really happy with how it looked growing through and around the trio of Schizachyrium scorparium (Little Bluestem)...and was dreading having to move them the following year, lest they overwhelm and bury the Bluestem.

periscaria inverleith  485
Imagine my surprise this summer when they seemed to top out around 18"...hmmm. I double-checked the tags they came with, and sure enough, they were labeled as 'Taurus'. I was now pretty sure they had been mislabeled. I looked around on the internet, but didn't have much luck figuring out what they were...and wasn't too upset...after all, now I got to enjoy them where they were. To be honest, this little plant has become one of my favorite little fillers. It's great and carefree (as long as it gets a bit of moisure-they don't like to dry out). It blooms from late June to frost, and mingles so well with other plants. It's a clumping variety that expands outward, but doesn't seem to spread (beyond light re-seeding). The leaves are quite nice even before the blooms start...and the blooms are great! They start out a rich pinkish-red, turning dark red, and finally aging to a coppery-brown as they die. I love the change of colors and the fact that all stages are present on the plants at the same time.

persicaria leaf difference
A few weeks ago, I spotted some more Persicaria for sale, this time it was 'Firetail'. For all intents and purposes, it's pretty similar to 'Taurus'. Above, you can see a leaf of the mystery plant on top of 'Firetail', there's quite a size difference! Seeing the two plants in my garden ('Firetail' and the unknown one) got me curious again as to the identity of the original plants. This past weekend I started to do a little internet sleuthing and think I've figured out what variety the mystery Persicaria actually is.

persicaria inverleith  480
From the Digging Dog Nursery website:
Persicaria amplexicaulis ‘Inverleith’
A leafy, dwarf form of Persicaria amplexicaulis, this low growing cultivar has narrow foliage, crimson tapers and a refined appearance. It makes a perfect understory to late blooming Hydrangea ‘Unique’. Zone 5/6.
Blooms August–October.
Size: 18" high & spreading; hardy to zone 5.

Persicaria Schizachyrium scoparium and Salvia
Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Inverleith' and Salvia 'Purple Rain'
So there it is, mystery solved (I think)! If you are ever in the market for something short, floriferous and full of charm, I can heartily recommend this plant!


  1. I grow red Persicaria for all of the reasons you mention. Not only is it a great filler plant, but it also insinuates itself among other perennials creating interesting, unintended but welcome, new color compositions.

  2. Sweet ! I'm going to DD's plant sale next month and I'm on the hunt for a Persicaria..Fingers crossed that these will be available.

  3. I really like your dwarf Persicaria. I wish it was sold locally, although, scratch that. I have no room for it. :) 'Firetail' gets almost 5 feet tall in my garden and has long "tapers." Gorgeous photos, as usual.

  4. It is a beauty and I love the way it mingles with it's neighbors. Might be a fine addition to my entryway. I'm a zone 4, but because of all the rocks, I can keep quite a few plants that normally don't like my zone.

  5. I'm a fan of Persicarias too, especially the ones with marked foliage. The flowers looks great especially in small drifts and swathes like the ones in your photos.

  6. Scott,
    Great to know this cultivar. I was afraid you never we able ti Identify it. Glad you did!

  7. What a little gem of a plant and it combines well with the salvia. The name too is interesting. Did you come across the origins by any chance? Inverleith means "at the mouth of the river Leith" and is the name of part of Edinburgh.

  8. I love the look of this Peersicaria. I have Persicaria Polymorpha and it is a huge plant that gets wind whipped each year. The plumes are lovely but this year all the stems bent in seventy mile an hour winds.

    I have ordered from Digging Dog and they have very nice plants. I will look for this one and see if it will grow in part sun under my Unique Hydrangeas.


  9. Well, I'll tell you one thing, Scott - they are GORGEOUS and everything you have paired together looks stunning. Great shots. Very colourful.

    Have a wonderful day,


  10. It looks lovely and does fit right in with your garden perfectly.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  11. I have not had much luck with persicaria so far, which is disappointing since I love the look of these plants. Any idea of the hardiness of the ones you are growing?

  12. We will have to call you Sherlock! Good work! And the shots are to die for.(As usual)

  13. What a cute Persicaria, I love it. The two I have are both big and rangy and floppy. I like them, but I also really like your dainty little well-behaved one. As usual, I have to say, you have mad photo skills!

  14. Thanks for featuring this little spreader. I want to give it a try as a groundcover.

  15. We dont have that here, it looks lovely in your garden most especially because your photos make them look very special. But will they not look like weeds if left on their own? For me i love more the companion blue spikes in the last photo.

  16. Love your variety that you planted, I have the bistorta variety (larger and with pink flowers) that I planted about 15 years ago and it is still going strong.

  17. I also like this shorter variety, as mid-height filler. Nice to have as an option.

    It looks wonderful in your planting of course! You have great color flow and rhythm to your gardens.

    Thanks for sharing your find!

  18. I love this persicaria and wish there was a U.S. source for some of Chris Ghyselen's hybrids like 'Blackfield' and 'Black Adder.' Just goes to show that sometimes it works out when plants are mislabeled.

  19. That beauty adds to the lushness of your garden. I love it! I have several kinds of persicaria. One of the kinds, I got from a friend, and the 2 clumps she gave me didn't like being moved. They died clear back, but sent up new leaves. Her plants are a couple feet high or so. One of mine has a few blooms now. I can't remember what variety the other 3 kinds I planted this summer are. I hope they have lots of blooms next year, like yours do.

  20. Allenbecker: Absolutely...I love the way it weaves into its neighbors (but not in a thuggish way). It has created some very lovely combos.

    ks: Good luck...I hope they have some!

    Grace: Hahahaha...I know that feeling...I'm having to "edit" now for future purchases...so close to being out of room.

    Sue: Good to know about the rocks...I hope it grows for you...it's a tough little guy!

    Mark and Gaz: I totally agree...LOVE the ones with the colored foliage...my fave of those is 'Lance Corporal'...such a beauty!

    Michael B. Gordon: Me too! It's amazing how many unhelpful results I got when Googling "small red persicaria" :-)

    Janet: I couldn't find any info on the name...but it does say it originated as a chance hybrid in Scotland.

    Gatsby Gardens: I have that Persicaria as well...and it's so beautiful...but you're right about wind...those stems seem to be made of glass!

    Diane: Thanks...I love them too!

    Sunray Gardens: I agree...it was lucky...for sure :-)

    Patty: That's so sad! I think most are hardly to at least zone 6/7...some as far south as zone 4...it depends on the cultivar.

    Compost in my shoe: Hahahahaha...I try ;-)

    Alison: I have a couple that are similar to yours...pretty big (and a little coarse). I do love them for the sheer wildness they exude...but it's nice to have the tidier one as well :-)

    James Golden: I hope you have luck with it...it would fit perfectly in your garden!

    Greggo: Aren't they ;-)

    Andrea: Some of the Persicarias do tend to look a bit weedy (I still love them, though). This one is much tidier and looks very presentable all season :-)

    Beech Street Gardens: Nice! I just got some of that one this spring...it seems to be a bit sulky atm, I think it might want more shade...hmmmm.

    Wife, Mother, Gardener: Thanks! I agree...it's always nice to have the option for something a bit smaller, in case we need it :-)

    Denise: OMG...me too! I was reading about them in the latest issue of Gardens Illustrated...'Black Adder' looks AMAZING, doesn't it!

    Corner Gardener Sue: Glad to see another Persicaria lover! I've found them amazingly resilient...I moved 'Red Dragon' a month or so ago and it responded by drying up and a week later, sending up new growth...they REALLY want to grow for us :-)

  21. I grow red Persicaria for all of the reasons you mention. Not only is it a great filler plant, but it also insinuates itself among other perennials creating interesting, unintended but welcome, new color compositions.

  22. This is all really great. Think I need to add some agastache. Really like that.
    Ohio Outdoors