Mark Tomaras, Handout
September 9, 2007
Here's a favorite flower of Colleen Schuetz, head horticulturist of the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park.
Why she likes it: It's a true native Illinois prairie plant, has a vibrant pink flower, has deep tap roots and can tolerate drought.
About Dalea purpurea: Purple prairie clover begins blooming in July and continues through September. It is a nitrogen-fixing plant that is an important component of Midwestern prairie restorations and attracts loads of butterflies. It grows 24 to 36 inches tall and 8 to 12 inches wide.
What it likes: Full sun and, because it's a prairie plant, it doesn't need very fertile soil. It's very drought tolerant. We never water ours and let nature take care of that for us. No need to compost as they prefer poorer quality soils with good drainage.
Tricks of the trade: There is no need to baby this plant -- let it fend for itself. Water a few times after you plant it and keep an eye on it, but it should be OK. Best to interplant with a grass or other fuller perennial. Downside is that rabbits love it.
Best buds: It's used best interplanted with other perennials such as Eragrostis spectabilis (purple love grass) or Briza media (quaking grass).