Sunday, August 19, 2012

A New Favorite - Bushy St. John's Wort

I'm pleased to announce that I've been bowled over by the performance this year of bushy St. John's wort, Hypericum densiflorum. I know that others have fallen in love with this species in the past, but now it's my turn.

Hypericum densiflorum

I got this plant via a hitchhiker in some plants donated to the Georgia Native Plant Society by a great plantsman. Warning! There is your first clue that this is a prolific seeder. This plant was growing in his nursery area in the thin and boggy layers of soil that had formed on black landscape cloth.

Look at all those flowers!

While I was babysitting these plants for the Society, one of them flowered and set seed. A seed ended up sprouting in the sunny bed near the driveway. I think it sprouted last year, so this chance seedling is only two years old. This waist-high plant has flowered heavily for over a month now. Here are some of it's wonderful qualities:

  • It has not needed any supplemental watering.
  • It is growing in full sun in thin, clay soil.
  • The deer have not touched it (and they have eaten things right next to it).
  • It has foliage that is bright, shiny, and evergreen.
  • It is blooming in some of the hottest days of summer.
  • The pollinators are thrilled with it.
  • Songbirds will eat the seeds when they ripen.
  • Beautiful exfoliating bark: as the plant gets older, the bark will be a deep and shiny brown that curls and peels away.

Bees love it!

Is it the perfect plant? Well, no. It does seed around - but those are easily pulled up or potted up for friends or to donate to your local plant sale. If you don't want a tall plant (eventually), you might seek out the compact cultivar 'Creel's Gold'.

Look at that gorgeous foliage (click on the picture to make it larger)

How about this cinnamon-colored peeling bark?

Next time you need a full sun plant in a tough spot, think about bushy St. John's wort. I think you'll like it.


  1. You might recall that our neighbors on the corner had planted St. John's Wort as their ground cover in place of a lawn. Not this variety, of course--a much lower-growing cover. And in Europe it is used as a drug.

  2. ground cover plants
    St. John's wort as their ground cover in place of a lawn it has been wonderful qualities It is growing in full of sun in thin clay soil.

  3. Ellen, looks like a great Hypericum, thanks for pointing out all of the awesome attributes - the peeling bark especially.

  4. This thing is a bee magnet. Get 5!

  5. I would add to its virtues that it is a wonderful shade of yellow that makes me want to sing with joy. -Jean