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Best uses

Best used en masse in a perennial border. Gives great texture and form mixed with other perennials. It can also be incorporated into wildflower meadows.

Physical characteristics

Herbaceous perennial that grows up to 1.2m tall and 1m wide at maturity.

Flowers and foliage

Loose sprays of pink four-petalled flowers bloom along tall red stems during summer to early autumn. Narrow lance shaped green leaves often have a red tinge.

Preferred site

Prefers full sun with free-draining soil and is quite tolerant of periods of drought. Water well until established.

Preparation for planting

Always choose healthy, well-grown plants and plant after autumn rains. Before planting, ensure the root ball is saturated and remove the planter bag or pot with minimal root disturbance. Trim any broken roots and plant at the same level as in the container. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root ball and firm in and water once planted. Make sure plants are watered well until established if planting in a drier period. Plant with some general slow-release fertiliser and then every spring apply organic fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre. Planting too closely leads to spindly growth, poor flowering and eventual decline. In a well-planned border, the plants in flower should just touch each other to create a full effect without overcrowding.

Maintenance tips

Apply mulch annually to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Feed in spring with a balanced fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre in spring as new growth begins. Prune off old flowers to prolong blooming. This can be done with a pair of shears. Cut back entire plant in late autumn, ready for overwintering.

Thin flower stems tend to become leggy and flop, particularly when grown in rich soils. Plants often benefit from close planting or support from adjacent perennials. Plants may be cut back in late spring by 1/2 to control size.

Ecological and biodiversity benefits

Attracts lots of bees.

Pests and diseases

Caterpillars and slugs and snails may attack flowers and new growth.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens