Friday, September 5, 2008

A Pensive Turtlehead

The turtleheads are just now coming into their own. I am not sure if this is a Chelone lyonii (Pink turtlehead) or a Chelone obliqua (Rose turtlehead) so I will satisfy myself with simply saying it is botanically in the Chelone family.

I picked this turtlehead up at a plant sale somewhere. Not sure where but I am ever so happy I did. This eastern United States native is an easy to grow and propagate late summer flowering perennial. It likes part sun to mostly shade in my garden, and does well with average soil, though it can grow in bogs. Interesting note, chelones are related to penstemons. (The Southern Living Garden Book, April 99)

Can you guess where the common name comes from? The flower looks similar to a turtlehead. I think this one is deep in thought about the coming end of summer. He is rather pensive looking to me.

in the garden....


  1. Hi Tina, good term, pensive. I have one too, bought last year at a plant sale in Knoxville. I had hesitated trying it before because of the water needs, but it has done fine in some good soil by ferngully, still very dry up there though. Mine looks just like yours, so whatever species, it is the same. It would probably have more impact in wetter soil, but since I have none of that, I am glad it is alive and blooming even.

  2. Gail,

    An interesting plant, but not destined for C&L! It is entirely too dry here from May to now. The trees out compete anything that needs fairly consistent moisture! Which is too bad, there are many plants I would attempt to grow if moisture weren't an issue.

    It's raining here:-) How about where you are?

  3. These are new to me. What's their hardiness zone, Tina? I wonder if it would grow for me.
    Very pretty flower color against the foliage.

  4. Good morning all! Frances, I am so glad your turtlehead is doing fine! Pensive indeed, might he be wondering where the rain is?

    Gail, That is too bad but you know you have some awesome plants already! We have gotten 1.3 inches of rain so far! YahOOOOOO! Hope you get plenty too.

    Cindy, These are hardy in Zones 5-9. A native to the mountains and Eastern U.S. It blooms at least four weeks. I love mine. Easy to propagate and I have heard it will self seed though I've only had mine one year. It usually takes a few years to get babies. We'll see. I have found it healthy and happy and have not had to add additional water. Not like those thirsty hydrangeas!

  5. It looks like a nice one for fall blooms. Most shade tolerant plants seem to be more foliage than flower. Do you do stem cuttings with them or root cuttings?

  6. Tina,
    I have turtlehead in my garden also. Are natives great? They are so trouble free. They grow like weeds. ;-)

  7. I like turtle heads. They are so cute. The flowers and the real ones! One of the workers here sent a little painted turtle spinning in the road and the other worker made him stop and get and they brought here. One of them has a pond behind their house and is going to put the little guy there. He was cute. Played with him a bit.

    HATE all the noise from the planes flying! Driving me crazy at work!

  8. Dave, Stem cuttings. Extremely easy to root. I just planted a few cuttings out this week. They are doing great. I love propagation but wish I had tried it way before when I did.

    Donna, They ARE great! I love all plants, the easiest ones are best.

    Christine, I am sure the turtleheads look great up there. Funny you mention turtles. When we were on the boat the other day we found a huge turtle floating in the middle of the lake. They all thought it was plastic. I said no, real. We stopped and once we got close we could tell it was real. Stinky! Don't know what happened to it but it looked alive and was so pretty. Never seen a painted turtle though but I am sure they are pretty. Planes will be gone soon.

  9. What a gorgous plant! The foliage is wonderful and it does look like a turtle.
    I've been hearing about the planes on every news show!

  10. I have one chelone, and like you, am not sure if it's the pink or rose variety. Regardless, they're a tough plant and don't require any care. The Japanese beetles had their way with it last year, but this year they've pretty much left it alone.
    After seeing the photographs of your's, I went out and snapped a few of my turtle...head. ;~)

  11. Hi Tina, what a pretty color. I haven't tried growing them because I've heard they like moisture and I can't always provide it.

    You say they look pensive. They look secretive to me. Like they are hiding--not wanting to fully open:) So now that we have done a psychiatric evaluation on the moods of the turtlehead...

  12. Pretty neat plant and bloom but not for my dry yard. We are hoping for some rain from Hanna, if not, we will put the Welcome mat out for Ike and wear campaign buttons saying "We Like Ike" Maybe he will stop by and give us some moisture....

  13. How cool that I just bought one of these yesterday & you posted about it today! :) I'm not sure what color mine will be either. It has a couple of buds with no signs of a color yet. I'm looking forward to this new addition to my garden & thanks for the info. Quite helpful!

  14. Hey "yawl",
    I've never heard of this plant Tina. From the pic it does look pretty. I think it would do ok here till it became monsoon season like now--then it would drown. I have 3/4 shrubbery that are dieing from too wet of soil. They are huge plants. I really need to trim back quite a bit.
    It is misting rain now--good weather to garden if you don't mind getting a bit damp. It has cooled off a bit too. Hope you get a good soaking. But then look out, everything will take off growing.

  15. What a cool plant. It's very pretty when it blooms. I think that turtle heads are really cool looking,a nd it does look a turtle.

  16. Wind picking up and real cloudy.

    Saint is on the couch sleeping. He came back from TN with a scratchy throat and today has a bit of a chill...

  17. Dawn, Thanks!

    TC, A good tough plant!

    Marnie, Evaluating plants attitudes is always a fun thing especially since sometimes it applies to life too. You put me in a good mood!

    Skeeter, It is pretty tough and might do well there. Just needs shade. I hope you get some moisture. We got some! Yeah!

    PGL, That cracked me up when I saw a picture of your turtlehead. But you know bloggers often post on the same things at the same time-more evidence gardens are the same across the world. You and I post similarly so I am not surprised.

    Lola, Here come the weeds since we got nearly 2" of rain. It is a good thing though as it is planting time.

    DP, It is a turtle looking plant! I had never heard of it until about two years ago so I thought I'd share my 'turtle'.

  18. Skeeter, Uh oh. Strep is going around up here and many have been sick. Hope he heals fast.

  19. Strep, bad stuff. Hope Saint doesn't have it. Catching too.
    Took advantage of cooler damp weather today Tina. Planted carrots, radishes, lettuce & Swish Chard. Never grew the Chard before so thought I'd try it. Also pulled some more grass/weeds from front bed. Boy, that would be a perfect place to put some Fall veggies. The soil is so rich--back in the Spring I did the lasagna method for GGG A's corn, beans & squash {which didn't do anything}. Maybe it's because he wasn't here to take care of it. Anyway I still have some more to do to that bed before I plant anything.
    Sure glad you got some rain. It will be a big help in your garden. It does make for pulling weeds easier & will help seeds come up faster. Goooood rain.

  20. Lola, It sounds like you had a good day in the garden. Why don't you send some pictures of your veggies and I'll post about it this month? Like I did my mother's? Rain is gooooood! Yes! Makes for pulling weeds-urgh-much easier.

  21. Like Lola, I never heard of it before but would'nt mind having one as it is pretty.

    Sarah is on duty the whole weekend that the base if opened to the public. It will be a long 3 days for her, along with all the other ones that work in the medical department as they all will be on duty. They have to be there and they take turns walking around. People get sun stroke, ect and then there is always, God forbid, the chance of an accident.

    We got there about 10:00 and left at 2:00. It was Papa's idea to leave as his knees were giving out so we did'nt see the Angles but lotsa other stuff. I took my electric wheelchair and I guess we should have taken the mannual one for Papa. However, it did not hurt Brian's or my feelings to leave. Josh had a good time and then slept for the last couple of hours. Glad it is over for us. They expect at least 100,000 people Sat and again on Sun. Since it will be the last show here I bet they get even more. There probably was 1,000 there today. Plenty of room to roam around.

  22. I don't have any turtleheads, but have thought of buying some before for the shade garden. I didn't realize they bloomed in late summer--now that's something I need!

  23. Hi Mom! So glad the day is over and I am sure you all have great memories-despite the loudness. It is fascinating how they do the things they do with planes. And aren't you glad you were able to go and avoid the crowds? Yes, best to stay out of town this weekend. Sounds like a mess! I hope Josh kind of remembers it too.

    Rose, Late summer interest is always good. It seems most plants are winding down now when turtleheads crank it up for four weeks or more.

  24. How beautiful...what a lovely flower!

  25. Parsec, This is a really nice flower and so easy! Must be scary living in CA with earthquakes!

  26. Hi, Tina--Yet another great suggestion from your blog--I don't have any now, but they're on my list!