The colorful petals will hold fast for about two months in late summer before they fall, and afterwards the seed-filled cones serve as landing pads for goldfinches and other small birds to sit and feast. When you finally clear them away at the end of autumn, they deliver one more gift: when crushed, the cones release a rich anise scent!
One of the particular beauties of this perennial is that unlike sturdier wildflowers such as Rudbeckia and Echinacea, Ratibida bobs in the wind, its long stems swaying and shimmying with every passing breeze. This adds much-needed motion to the garden, especially when the movement causes this plant's steady stream of pollinators -- bees, wasps, and checkerspot butterflies -- to take wing.
The blooms are held high above the foliage, which tends to be larger and lusher the closer it gets to the ground. The basal leaves can be quite dense, while the upper leaves are much finer. When grown in rich soil, Ratibida abandons blooms in favor of more foliage, so keep the earth lean for best flowering!
Untroubled by pests and diseases, host to welcome pollinators, and lovely in its own right, Ratibida has earned pride of place in your garden. However, resist the temptation to put it front and center in the sunny border. It will do best along the fence, in a street planting, and beside the asphalt driveway. (In the wild it favors the dusty used-up soil beside railroad tracks.) Let it find its feet in your challenging garden spots this season, and it will return to give you years of pleasure! This butterfly magnet is very robust, survivng heat, drought and salt wonderfully! 1 Quart Container. Zones 3 to 8.