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Late Season Bloom, Moisture Tolerant Turtlehead

Add some late season color to your garden with the versatile turtlehead perennial plant.

A close look at the flowers will reveal the source of its common name. The clasping petals look like a turtle’s head. The botanical name Chelone comes from Greek mythology. A nymph named Chelone insulted the gods and was turned into a turtle.

These North American natives typically grow along stream banks, in bogs or moist woods. You can find cultivated varieties such as Hot Lips and Black Ace at some garden centers and nurseries. Use turtleheads in rain gardens, moist areas and for added late summer through fall color.

The deer tend to leave these alone, but the butterflies find them attractive.

Plants grow in full sun to shade, moist soil and are hardy in zones 3 to 8 or 9, depending on the variety. Plants growing in shade may need some staking or strong upright neighboring plants for support.

A bit more information: Hot Lips turtlehead has rosey-pink flowers and dark green leaves that have a bronze tinge as they emerge in spring. Black Ace has a blackish tint to the leaves and white flowers.