Description

Turtlehead is named for its pretty white blossoms which resemble a turtle head poking out from its shell. It is an important host plant providing larval food for the lovely orange and brown Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly. Its nectar also attracts other butterflies, bumblebees, and ruby-throated hummingbirds. The plant is a stiffly erect, clump-forming, leafy-stemmed, native perennial which typically grows 2-3′ tall and occurs in moist woods, swampy areas and along streams. Hooded, snapdragon-like, two-lipped, white flowers with a tinge of pink appear in tight, spike-like terminal racemes from late summer into autumn. It has coarsely-toothed, lance-shaped, dark green leaves. Turtlehead makes a good choice for border and wet meadow plantings and will provide for a late summer bloom.

Best grown in moist to wet, rich, humusy soils in part shade. Appreciates a good composted leaf mulch, particularly in sunny areas. Consider pinching back the stem ends in spring to reduce mature plant height, especially if growing plants in strongly shaded areas where they are more likely to need some support. In optimum environments, however, staking is usually not required. Turtlehead slowly spreads by rhizomes.

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