Woolly Groundsels (Packera tomentosa) starting blooming a few weeks ago in the nursery and will probably continue for another month. During that time, it will feed many butterflies and other pollinating insects. The pictures from 40 acre Rock in the Upstate of SC give you an idea how adaptable this species is.. There, it grows in shallow soil pockets on granitic outcrops..Like parking lots, these areas suffer from extreme conditions, Water does not drain …but puddles until it evaporates..or freezes solid….In the summer, these areas are hot and dry like an oven. Yet the Packera survive.,
Packera also occur on seeps in the fall line Sandhills…
And several years ago, I found a third population band of Packera tomentosa..in Beaufort County, SC.., then Jasper County, SC and nearby McIntosh County, GA.. Here it grows in formerly fire-maintained pine savannas and flatwoods.. Unfortunately, most of these populations were dwindling. Once people quit burning the woods, they become overgrown with hardwoods and shrubs which outshaded the Woolly Groundsel. The few remaining patches were so far away from the other woolly groundsels.
that they did not make any viable seed. So, I decided to become a botanical matchmaker… We took small divisions from various patches and grew them together in the nursery. and allowed the insects to cross pollinate them. Now we have seedlings popping up in our other pots the woods around us..and in our client’s gardens where we have planted them.
How does it grow in the garden? Vibrant flowers for over a month and a half..White “seedheads” follow. ..”Evergray” leaves are beautiful year round.. Grows thick enough to keep out almost all weeds. Yet stolons are shallow enough to remove where not wanted.. Clumps expand steadily in all directions in wet sticky clay..as well as dry sand..Thrives on circumneutral soil…where Gardenias stay yellow (even with regular applications of Chelated Micronutrients… and….in neighborhoods where the deer eat both Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) and Lantana… the deer have never touched it..
Plant some in your garden, and help keep this beautiful native in the South Carolina Lowcountry!