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Native Plant of the Week: Robin's Plantain

Family: Asteraceae


Name: Erigeron pulchellus


Bloom Time: April-June


Flower: White-pale pink


Soil Condition: Dry, moist, well-drained


Light: Sun, Partial sun


Height: 6-8", 24" while flowering


Native Range: Eastern and South Central US including Long Island


Zone: 3-8


Photos (KMS Native Plants): Top Row: 'Lynhaven Carpet' winter foliage in March, foliage rosette with flower buds, flower, Second Row: habit and form ('Lynhaven Carpet'), flower and foliage of straight species (Erigron pulchellus)


Robin's Plantain is a biennial with lovely semi-evergreen ground cover that functions as a living mulch. The soft and fuzzy green foliage rosettes begin to green up in March with the coming season's new leaf buds. The flowers are a bonus for this little powerhouse plant. It attracts many small early spring pollinators including specialist bees that only use its pollen. Once the flowers begin to fade, the seed fluff attracts hummingbirds for nesting material. It makes a great alternative to non-native lamb's ear (Stachys byzantina).


Maintenance: None necessary. The basal rosettes are easily transplanted into other parts of the garden or shared with friends. As a biennial, the rosette that blooms will die and new plants will spread by stoloniferous runners and self-seeding.


Benefits: Living mulch, pollen specialist bees, early pollinators, attracts predatory insects that prey upon 'pest' insects, hummingbird nesting material, great edger along a path or walkway


Noteworthy Cultivars: 'Lynhaven Carpet' has larger and rounder foliage with larger flowers than the straight species.


Companion Plants: Achillea millefolium (common yarrow), Penstemon hirsutus (hairy beardtongue), Asclepias tuberosa (butterfly weed), Hypericum prolificum (shrubby St. Joh's wort), Polystichum acrostichoides (Christmas fern), Carex plantaginea (seersucker sedge)


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