In late summer Lysimachia clethroides ‘Lady Jane’ produces spires of white blossoms right above the foliage, they arch over then tip up at the ends and grow in beautiful curvy forms, like a goose or swans neck.
Each individual star shaped flower is small and there are at least a hundred on each flower spike. The curved blooms give this species the common name, the Gooseneck Loosestrife. Almost pure white, they have the politeness to drop off as they die leaving the rest of the bloom looking fresh. Absolutely loved by butterflies which crowd over its arching flowers.
Lysimachia 'Lady Jane’ is easy to grow in both full sun and semi shade. It is adaptable to a wide range of soil conditions and present very few pest and disease problems. Blooming July to September, it is best planted in blocks to appreciate the full effect of unusual arching white flower spikes. Dependable and vigorous the plant grows to around 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) tall. Dig up portions when spreading too much or divide every three years to keep clumps under control.
Always commented on in the garden, especially when smothered in butterflies. The stems are ideal for cutting and adorable in bunches. An additional feature is the good foliage colour, the mid-green leaves turn to rich gold in autumn.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
Lysimachia clethroides has been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Sowing: Sow in spring or in autumn.
Sow on the surface in trays or pots containing a good seed compost. Place in a cool place and maintain an optimum temperature of 14 to 18°C (55 to 65°F). Germination usually takes 30 to 90 days.
If sown February to July the plants can be put into the garden in late summer. Overwinter autumn sown seedlings and transplant to the garden in spring once all frosts have gone.
Transplant seedlings when large enough to handle into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Acclimatise young plants to outdoor conditions before planting out 45cm (18in) apart.
Plant outdoors in moist soil in sun or part shade. Add plenty of organic matter to enrich the soil and keep moisture levels high before planting. In drier soils the plants should be grown in some shade. The plants flower in their second season.
Although Lysimachia prefers moist, well drained soil, it tolerates poor drainage; it is less vigorous in dry soil. Water first-year plantings regularly during dry spells. Established plants can generally get by on less water, but most grow best if the soil remains evenly moist. In a hot summer established plantings benefit from occasional watering, too.
Apply a generous 5 to 7cm (2 to 3in) mulch of well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plants in autumn. Lift and divide congested colonies and give a top dressing of bonemeal each spring.
If you read up on this plant the one warning that you will come across is that Lysimachia clethroides is a large plant that in certain situations can be ‘invasive’. Great news for those that want to use it as a groundcover for a large area but hopeless for a gardener with a small garden. If you are the sort of gardener that simply must have every green thing under tight rein, not a leaf out of place, and will drive yourself into the ground to achieve it, you will hate this plant passionately. However, if you prefer enthusiastic plants over plants that limp their way through the season you will get along just fine with Lysimachia.
If you have a large garden with moist soil, pop it in and leave it to spread naturally. You can control the plants spread by digging out excessive growth from the edges of the clump.
If you have a medium sized garden, contain its exuberance by planting it next to equally enthusiastic plants that can help restrain its enthusiasm such as Monarda or Heliopsis.
If you have a small garden and need a tidy plant, simply cut the bottom off a large plastic pot like those used in the garden centres for shrubs and small trees. Dig a hole large enough to contain the pot, leaving about one inch above ground, fill with a mix of garden soil and compost and add the plant. An added bonus is that this plant stays tidy all through the summer, even when not in bloom.
Borders, Cottage / Informal Gardens, Wildlife and naturalising, Bog gardens and Container Planting.
Lysimachia clethroides is native to China and Japan. It is also found in Russia, Korea and North America. It is present in damp woodland margins, in ravines and forests, in sunny grassy hills and mountain slopes at elevations of 300–2,100 metres (980–6,890 ft) above sea level. It prefers deep, rich loam and sheltered positions.
Traditionally classified in the family Primulaceae, but belonging to the family Myrsinaceae, according to a molecular phylogenetic study. The Lysimachia genus are a varied group, many are upright hardy perennials and reach from 30 to 90cm (12 to 36in) in height, however some are very low growing and reach only 7cm (3in) in height.
The generic name is dedicated to Lysimachus 360BC – 281BC was a Macedonian officer and diadochus (successor) of Alexander the Great, who became a basileus (King) in 306 BC, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon.
The specific epithet clethroides means 'like alder'. The suffix 'oides' means 'like' and clethra is a handsome shrub with very fragrant flowers, commonly called summersweet or white alder.
Pronounced lye-sih-MAK-ee-ah kleth-ROY-deez, it is commonly called the Gooseneck Loosestrife and occasionally Shepherd’s Crook or Chinese Loosestrife. The flowers curve and bend in a similar way to Lysimachia atropurpurea (Crimson Loosestrife) but are white rather than deep claret in colour.
The curious name ‘Loosestrife’ is used for a number of tall plants that bear upright spikes of flowers.
Named for King Lysimachus, who used the plant to calm his oxen, translated from the Greek it means something like 'that which placed on the yoke of quarrelsome oxen will calm them down' . It was thought that garlands of the herb hung around the necks of oxen would encourage a team to plough a field in harmony. The veracity of this is a little hard to put to the test these days.
It should not be confused with Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) which is a wetland plant.
- Awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit
- Additional Information
Packet Size 20mg Average Seed Count 50 Seeds Family Myrsinaceae Genus Lysimachia Species clethroides Cultivar Lady Jane Common Name Gooseneck Loosestrife Other Common Names Shepherd’s Crook, Chinese Loosestrife Other Language Names FR: Lysimaque Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers White blooms Natural Flower Time July to September Height 60 to 90cm (24 to 36in) Spread 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) Position Full sun to partial shade Soil Evenly moist soil