Pollinator Plant Spotlight: Late Figwort
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Even though I have been managing my Pollinator Paradise Garden for 15 years, it continues to teach me every year. The garden features over 225 unique species of plants (85% of them native to North Carolina), but I still enjoy trying out new plants every year. Sometimes one of these new plants becomes my latest “plant crush” and I become semi-obsessed with it as I learn its habits and observe the various pollinators it attracts. This year I am unabashedly ready to proclaim that my plant crush is late figwort, Scrophularia marilandica!
I started learning about late figwort after I was gifted a plant during one of my garden tours in 2022. Once I started learning about it I was immediately intrigued for a few reasons: it’s native to North Carolina; it has very unique flowers (I have always been drawn to “weird” blooms); and most importantly, it enjoys a reputation for being an amazing nectar plant that attracts honey bees, native bees, wasps, flower flies, butterflies, and even hummingbirds.
I planted my dormant plant in the pollinator garden last fall. Since I only had one plant, I also purchased seed that I direct seeded in early November around the plant. Apparently it establishes well from seed because by spring I had a nice patch of late figwort emerging from the ground!
Late figwort is native to the eastern half of the U.S. from the mid-west to the east coast. Its reputation as a prolific nectar producer dates back to the 19th century when it was prized by beekeepers as a honey plant. Back in the 1880s beekeepers described how the honey bees visited late figwort blooms from sunrise to sundown collecting nectar which was quick to replenish; the honey produced from late figwort was described as being of very good quality.
Late figwort is a perennial that grows to 3-6 feet tall with square stems, opposite leaves, and small flowers that can range in color from ruby red to light green. It blooms from July-September. It can tolerate a range of soils from dry to wet. It loves full sun but can also do well in part shade. In my pollinator garden it is in full sun and dry soil.
I have enjoyed getting to know this plant all year and have already purchased more seed for fall sowing. I’m currently trying to figure out where I can make room in my crowded garden for more of this delightful species!
Check out the photos below to learn more about this useful and intriguing plant. Each photo has a descriptive caption.