Plants little-seen provide delights in Western Pennsylvania gardens
Among my favorite annual flowers is the seldom-grown laceflower — Ammi majus. Also known as false Queen Anne's lace, this delicate umbrella-shaped flower is a knockout in the garden.
Laceflower is extremely easy to start from seed planted directly into the garden in the early spring, and once it is established, a self-sowing colony will form with new plants returning each season.
Ammi majus thrives in full-to-partial sun and requires little more than average garden soil with an occasional dose of organic matter. The plant's foliage looks a bit like cilantro (though it isn't edible), and mature plants reach up to 3 feet in height. Each flower cluster reaches 5 to 6 inches across and is similar to Queen Anne's Lace in both shape and color.
The delicate flowers are very welcoming to many different species of pollinating insects, as well as the beneficial insects that help keep pests in check. I often find my laceflower teeming with ladybugs, lacewings, syrphid flies and other beneficial insects.
A sister species, Ammi visnaga, is another great choice for Pennsylvania gardens. It, too, has large, white, umbrella-shaped flowers, though they are more densely packed than those of laceflower. The foliage of this species is lighter in color and very fine, earning it the common name of toothpick weed. Both species perform beautifully as cut flowers and both return from seed each season.
And there's one more plant with similar growth habits and flower shape that I should mention as being an excellent choice for our region: dill. This common herb is super-easy to grow and also bears umbrella-shaped flowers that are extremely attractive to beneficial insects. And, as an added bonus, you can often find the caterpillars of the beautiful black swallowtail butterfly feeding on the foliage.
Dill's flowers are a beautiful, light-yellow and the foliage is soft and fern-like. The flowers and leaves are useful in the kitchen. It, too, regularly returns to the garden via dropped seeds.
Horticulturist Jessica Walliser co-hosts “The Organic Gardeners” at 7 a.m. Sundays on KDKA Radio. She is the author of several gardening books, including “Grow Organic” and “Good Bug, Bad Bug.” Her website is www.jessicawalliser.com.
Send your gardening or landscaping questions to email@example.com or The Good Earth, 503 Martindale St., 3rd Floor, D.L. Clark Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15212.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates will play NL wild-card game at PNC Park after shutting out Reds
- Nothing normal about Steelers’ standard as backups fill vital roles
- Pirates notebook: Huntington weighs whether wild-card round should be expanded
- Penguins notebook: Farnham relishes making opening-night roster
- Power plants challenged by carbon capture and storage
- Pittsburgh Police Department to expand use of body cameras for officers
- Energy efficiency goes mainstream with help of regulations, consumer demand
- Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC’s 125th anniversary bash raises stunning $11.9 million
- Pittsburgh’s bike sharing service starts off healthy
- Manor festival will help animal shelters, rescues
- Auction Watch: Furniture, china sales show signs of life; law office’s art goes on block