By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Indian pink wildflowers (Spigelia marilandica) are found across most areas of the southeastern United States, as far north as New Jersey and as far west as Texas. This stunning native plant is threatened in many areas, primarily due to indiscriminate harvesting by overzealous gardeners. Spigelia Indian pink is easy to grow, but if you have a hankering for growing Indian pink plants, be a good sport and leave Indian pink wildflowers in their natural environment. Instead, purchase the plant from a greenhouse or nursery that specializes in native plants or wildflowers. Read on for more Indian pink information.
Indian pink is a clump-forming perennial that reaches mature heights of 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm.). The emerald-green foliage provides delightful contrast to the vivid red flowers, which appear in late spring and early summer. The flared, tube-shaped flowers, highly attractive to hummingbirds, are made even more interesting by the bright yellow insides that form a star when the bloom is open.
Spigelia Indian pink is a good choice for partial shade and doesn’t do well in full sunlight. Although the plant tolerates full shade, it is likely to be long, leggy and less attractive than a plant that gets a few hours of daily sunlight.
Indian pink is a woodland plant that thrives in rich, moist, well-drained soil, so dig an inch or two (2.5 to 5 cm.)of compost or well-rotted manure into the soil before planting.
Once established, Indian pink gets along just fine with very little attention. Although the plant benefits from regular irrigation, it is tough enough to withstand periods of drought. However, plants in sunlight require more water than plants in partial shade.
Like most woodland plants, Spigelia Indian pink performs best in slightly acidic soil. The plant will appreciate regular feeding with a fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants, such as rhodies, camellias or azaleas.
Indian pink is easy to propagate once the plant is well established in about three years. You can also propagate the plant by taking cuttings in early spring, or by planting seeds you have collected from ripe seed capsules in summer. Plant the seeds immediately.
This article was last updated on
Erect, rarely branched, perennial wildflower. It is drought tolerant. Blooms that appear in June attract hummingbirds. Source of strychnine poison. This plant is found naturally in forests in circumneutral soils.
Indian Pink is a herbaceous perennial that may grow 2 to 3 feet tall. The leaves are opposite with an entire margin. Red and yellow flowers first appear in late spring.
This plant is classified as a NC threatened species.
Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.
Seasons of Interest:
Bloom: Late Spring to Summer Fruit/Seed/Nut: Late SummerForm Anne McCormack CC BY-NC 2.0 Spigelia marilandica bloom detail Debbie Roos Spigelia marilandica Krzysztof Ziarnek CC BY-SA 4.0 Spigelia marilandica Phyzome - Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0 flowers, Wake County, NC Cathy Dewitt CC BY 4.0 Flower Close-up (Haywood County, NC) Marcia Boyle CC BY 4.0
Hardy, late spring to summer-blooming, native perennial
Description: Unusual flowers very attractive to hummingbirds begin as bright red, elongated buds that peel back at the tips to reveal soft yellow interiors glossy green, lance-shaped foliage
Habit: Grows 1-2’ high and 1’ wide upright, clump-forming allow 2-3 years to establish
Culture: Prefers partial shade and moist but well-drained, humus-rich woodland loam
Hardiness: Cold hardy to USDA Zone 5
This showy wildflower is notable for its unique floral display, which has the appearance of a profusion of miniature, brilliant red and yellow firecrackers. Native to moist woodlands and shady stream banks from Maryland to Indiana south to Texas and Florida, Indian Pink is best when massed in woodland gardens and shady borders. It was one of many native herbaceous plants “sent to Europe for Mr. Pierepont by John and William Bartram” of Philadelphia in 1784, and Philadelphia nurseryman Bernard McMahon recommended Spigelia marilandica in The American Gardener’s Calendar (1806), calling it Carolina Pink-root."
This plant will ship bare root. Grade: #1.
If you can't plant immediately, store your plant in a cool location and keep the roots moist or pot in a container with a nursery potting mix from your local garden center.
Before planting, let the roots soak for several hours as you prepare the site. You'll want to dig a large enough hole so the root mass can spread out and the plant is at the same soil level as when it was growing in the nursery.
Once planted, water it in well and wait a month before fertilizing. Mulching will help to maintain moisture and raise soil temperatures for faster growth.
Many cultivated plants can trace their 'roots' to common roadside wildflowers and gardeners often assume that the wild or native form is simply an escapee from someone's garden. Wildflowers are beloved little treasures that have inspired poets, artists and storytellers from around the world and learning to recognize them and preserving their declining habitat is something all gardeners should aspire to.
Indian Pinks (Spigelia marilandica) are not pink at all, but little vivid red firecrackers with yellow starburst ends. These woodland natives of the southeastern United States are seldom seen in their favorite habitats along stream banks and at the edges of damp woods, but are among some of our most loved wildflowers. They grow between 12" to 24" tall (30cm to 60cm) and the airy stems cluster in attractive clumps where it is undisturbed.
Known as Indian Pink, Pinkroot and Worm Grass, the latter because the plant contains an alkaloid called Spigeline, which early settlers and Native Americans made from the roots to purge intestinal worms such as roundworms and tapeworms. The substance is poisonous and over dosage results in disturbed vision, rapid heartbeat and ultimately death from convulsions if misused. So, use commercially prepared vermifuge if you feel you need a de-wormer.
Instead of its former herbal usage, gardeners should grow this unusual little wildflower because it is a great shade-loving plant that is tailor-made for hummingbirds. It forms lovely clumps via underground rhizomes when it is happy and the bloom season generally lasts from May through July. The blooming season can be prolonged by removing spent flowers and sometimes you'll be graced with a repeat flush. These are polite garden residents and do not have the unruly habits of plants like lily-of-the-valley or the mint family, so gardeners don't have to worry about them taking over their perennial beds. Plant it in dappled shade or areas that receive morning sun. Indian Pinks prefer slightly acid soil, rich in organic matter. Remember that moist conditions are optimum, but they do not like standing water or boggy soil. It is a hardy perennial and can withstand low temperatures of -20F (-28.8C) so many gardeners outside its native area have planted Indian Pinks in their gardens with great success. It is especially beloved in Great Britain where it was commercially imported several decades ago.
Spigelia marilandica works well in woodland perennial borders and pairs well with trilliums, Cypripediums (lady slippers) ferns, and hostas. They all thrive in similar soil and conditions. Indian pinks are uncommon in the wild and we stress to readers not to dig or harvest plants as this practice contributes to their declining numbers. The only time wildflowers should be moved from their native habitat is if the location is in danger of being destroyed from construction and then, only with the property owner's permission. My personal plants were rescued from a construction project not far from my home. Not only did I get home with my plants, but also developed an especially bad case of poison ivy on my arms, so take appropriate precautions if you find yourself in similar circumstances. There are many garden centers and nurseries that have responsibly propagated plants and it is easy to find a source. Indian Pinks can be propagated by seed, cuttings or root divisions, so they're not terribly finicky.
Many of us with specific types of gardens find Indian Pinks an appropriate addition to our collections. Native plant enthusiasts definitely want some, butterfly and hummingbird gardeners find they attract those winged visitors and woodland gardeners enjoy the bright sparks of color in a normally mostly green palate. Besides that, they are so unusual that anyone with a shady spot finds them irresistible!
Item #: 2315
Zones: 5b to 9b
Height: 24" tall
Culture: Sun to Light Shade
Origin: United States
Pot Size: 3.5" pot (24 fl. oz/0.7 L) ?
Note: This plant is not currently for sale. This is an archive page preserved for informational use.
Click Add to Wishlist to receive an email if this plant is back in stock.
If this isn't the region's most beautiful native, then I don't know who is. any votes for Elvis or Dolly? This exquisite woodland perennial makes a dainty-looking 12" wide clump of 2' tall stalks clothed with nondescript green foliage. In late spring, Spigelia marilandica clumps are topped with dozens of stalks of spectacular up-facing, bright red, tubular flowers with a dramatically contrasting yellow center. a hummingbird favorite. Spigelia marilandica, which improves with age, is a true garden show-stopper! We have found that it grows equally well in full sun or light shade, as well as in very moist or bone-dry soils. Our spigelia are clonally propagated.
Other Names: S. marylandica, Pinkroot, Wormgrass, Starbloom
A beautiful woodland plant producing bright red tubular flowers with starry yellow tips and throats avoid transplanting once established excellent for border fronts, bright shade areas, and containers deadhead to promote re-blooming in summer
Indian Pink features dainty scarlet tubular flowers with buttery yellow throats and yellow tips at the ends of the stems from late spring to early summer. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its pointy leaves remain green in color throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.
Indian Pink is a dense herbaceous perennial with an upright spreading habit of growth. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.
This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. It is a good choice for attracting bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your yard. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration
Indian Pink is recommended for the following landscape applications
Indian Pink will grow to be about 20 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 10 inches apart. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 5 years.
This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It prefers to grow in average to moist conditions, and shouldn't be allowed to dry out. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. This species is native to parts of North America.
Indian Pink is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor pots and containers. With its upright habit of growth, it is best suited for use as a 'thriller' in the 'spiller-thriller-filler' container combination plant it near the center of the pot, surrounded by smaller plants and those that spill over the edges. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.