- Full sun to part shade
- Average to high moisture settings
- 18" to 24" tall. Fast spreading (see description below)
- Native to Ontario, Thrives in wet meadows, shorelines and below tall species like Joe-Pye-Weed
- An 'Underplant' species, these can grow and thrive below and between taller plants, acting as a living mulch
Often described as a mild sedative or nerve tonic, Skullcap is often grown as an herbal medicine. Their efficacy in this role is still debated in research and literature, but they have a role to play in a native plant garden either way.
If you are familiar with how I talk about native species, you have likely noticed that I’m generally pretty chill when it comes to a plant’s capacity to spread and crowd other species. That their nature isn’t the issue, expectations that plants should stay in place is. I hold to that view but I will offer a caution in regards to this species. Anecdotes on the capacity for Mint to spread through a space faster than can be managed by a gardener, eventually overwhelming all efforts to grow anything other than a verdant, fragrant patch of that single species, are often shared as cautionary stories for new gardeners.
This species has a similar capacity to spread into all available space.
Like their other Mint family relations, these are popular with small pollinators and nectar feeders. Their foliage also hosted a large population of orange and black leaf beetles a couple of years ago. Beyond identification, I find a lot of online sites have very little information about the ecosystem role of the less charismatic species, so I can’t tell you about the role that those Phyllobrotica limbate filled in the ecosystem, but I’m sure that there is one. The Skullcap bounced back the following year without missing a beat, as full and verdant as ever.
Blue Skullcap grows to between 1’ and 2’ tall and tends to stay quite green and lush through the entire growing season, not yellowing until late September or early October, when the little packets of seeds ripen and dry.
They prefer a high moisture setting but are getting by in average garden conditions just fine. If I was recommending a native garden setting, I’d suggest one where they could become the living groundcover below and among other, moisture loving species. This could include Red Monarda, Obedient Plant, Swamp Rose-mallow, Canada Anemone, Canadian Bluejoint grass, Joe-Pye Weed, Giant Goldenrod, Common Boneset and Pink Swamp Milkweed, to name just a few.
The Ecosystem Companions for this Species list below shows species that Scullcap thrives below and around, as a living mulch layer and an early summer nectar source fol pollinators