Phacelia tanacetifolia, commonly known as Fiddleneck, is a remarkable annual plant native to the Southwestern United States and Northwestern Mexico. It is highly regarded for its benefits in supporting beneficial insects and its attractive ornamental qualities.
Here’s what you need to know about this versatile plant:
- Fiddleneck is an annual plant known for its long-lasting, fiddlehead clusters of lavender-blue, bell-shaped flowers. The flowers feature long stamens that elegantly extend beyond the blooms.
- Blooming from late spring to early fall, this plant can provide up to five months of continuous flowering.
- Its fine, feathery foliage resembles that of tansy.
Growth and Landscape Use:
- This fast-growing annual typically reaches heights of 1-4 feet (30-120 cm) with a spread of 12-18 inches (30-45 cm).
- Fiddleneck thrives in full sun and prefers poor, rocky, sandy, and well-drained soils.
- It creates a dense carpet that shades and stabilizes the soil while allowing moisture to penetrate.
- The plant is an excellent choice for mixed borders, cottage gardens, city gardens, wildlife gardens, and prairie gardens. It also makes a lovely addition to fresh-cut flower arrangements due to its unique and attractive blooms.
Benefits for Pollinators and Beneficial Insects:
- Fiddleneck is one of the very best bee plants and is highly attractive to bumblebees and honeybees. It is regarded as one of the top 20 honey-producing flowers for honeybees.
- The plant is also beneficial for syrphid flies (hover flies) whose larvae are voracious feeders on aphids and young caterpillars.
- Additionally, Fiddleneck attracts other beneficial insects such as parasitic wasps and minute pirate bugs, making it a valuable companion plant in gardens.
Cultivation and Maintenance:
- Fiddleneck is low-maintenance, highly disease and pest-free, and drought-tolerant.
- It can be planted in early spring or fall in mild winter areas and may reappear year after year through self-seeding.
- Contact with the plant may cause skin irritation, so care should be taken when handling it.
In summary, Phacelia tanacetifolia or Fiddleneck is a multifunctional plant that offers ornamental beauty and provides essential support for pollinators and beneficial insects in the garden. Its continuous blooming period and adaptability to various soil types make it a valuable addition to a wide range of garden settings.