There’s something I love about Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra), but I can’t quite put my finger on it. An often wild and unruly-looking member of the Rosaceae (rose) family, the Queen has airy pink sprays reminiscent of cotton candy and ferny-looking leaves. The native North American plant can be found throughout eastern Canada, the northeastern and central US, and as far south as North Carolina and Missouri.
The Queen is regal but not as fussy as you might expect her to be. However, she does prefer moist soil and won’t tolerate drought or extreme heat without enough moisture. The color of the astilbe-like blooms ranges from light to bright pink. Fully grown, she’s a Queen-sized plant that can be between 4 and 7 feet tall with a spread of 18-24 inches.
Because Queen of the Prairie spreads via underground rhizomes and also freely self-seeds, she can naturalize quite rapidly. Like many natives, she is attractive to butterflies, as well as many beneficial insects. She is of course found naturally in bog-like areas or watersides, prefers full sun but can tolerate shade, and can be grown in USDA Zones 3-9.
Queen of the Prairie en masse would be a lovely backdrop for a perennial border, or imagine her liberally scattered throughout a wet prairie wildflower planting. She’s on the ‘EFG Most Wanted’ list because one day she’ll be the star of the sunny bog garden or prairie planting that I’ve been dreaming of.
Photo courtesy of Cornell University Guide to Home Gardening.