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Chelone (key-LOH-nee)

Common Name:  Turtlehead

Light:  - Moderate sun to light shade

Soil:  Humus-rich, moist

Moisture:  Somewhat moist to wet

Blooms:  Late summer

Zones:  3 - 8 or 5 - 9, depending on species


Chelone lyonii

Chelone obliqua

Chelone Description and Cultural Information

Chelone lyonii, pink turtlehead. 2 - 3'. This plant has dark green, lance shaped leaves with bright rose-pink flowers at the top of the stems and at the leaf axils. 'Hot Lips' has deep green foliage with reddish stems and deeper pink flowers. Zones 3 - 8.

Chelone obliqua, rose turtlehead. 2'. Similar to C. lyonii but with shorter stalks, narrower leaves, and rosy-purple flowers. Zones 5 - 9.

How to Grow:  Turtleheads prefer fertile, evenly moist soil in moderate sun to part shade and will grow in full sun in areas that are constantly moist to wet. They spread from underground runners to form a dense clump and are fairly easy to grow provided they are in good soil that doesn't dry out too much. Divide in early spring to control their spread, if needed, although they are not invasive. Some varieties get quite tall but can be pinched back half way in early summer to form a compact and dense blooming clump.

Landscape uses:  Chelone is a wonderful late summer plant with attractive flowers that are a hummingbird favorite. Although it is native to bogs and other wet areas it is also quite adaptable in the garden when given good soil and occasional moisture. Plant them with Acorus, Anaphalis, Lobelia, ferns, Joe-Pye weed (Eupatorium), ornamental grasses, water loving iris such as Iris versicolor, I. sibirica, I. ensata, and I. louisiana, or with other moisture loving plants.

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