The Q&A Archives: Queen of the Prairie

Question: I'm working on filling in an area of my garden, and would like something that flowers for a fairly long period of time, is about 3'-6' wide and grows higher than 3'. I would prefer something perennial, or even a dwarf tree or shrub. Someone suggested a Queen of the Prairie (Filipendula rubra "magnifica"). The picture looks great, but I can't find any more info on it. What are your suggestions?

Answer: There are many plants that would meet those size criteria, including that one. I would however caution that in my experience the Japanese beetles enjoy feasting on it just about when it comes into bloom. You might consider perennials such as border phlox, the hardy hibiscus or Joe Pye weed; you might consider an ornamental grass or perhaps a shrub. Here are just a few late spring and summer blooming shrubby possibilities for a moderately sized sunny spot: Persian lilac, the red and pink flowered summer blooming spirea shrubs, modern and smaller named types of the old fashioned weigela, Virginia sweetspire, summersweet clethra, smaller viburnums, rose-of-Sharon and perhaps the blue flowered caryopteris. Among the small trees you might consider the smallest forms of crabapple or deciduous magnolia, but these will probably be larger than you need within a few years.

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