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Audubon® White Turtlehead
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So fun! Turtlehead is a cute and charismatic Spirit you need to have in your native garden. In mid- to late summer, its perky white or pink-tinged flowers appear, looking like… well… turtleheads! You can squeeze the sides and make the turtles “talk.” Hummingbirds dote on the flowers, coming back again and again over the course of the plant’s long bloom time. It’s fun to watch the bumblebees pollinate the flowers, too. When they squeeze inside and wiggle around, it looks like the turtle-mouths are chewing them up. (No bees have been harmed in the pollinating of this plant.)
May Benefit & Attract: Hummingbirds
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
- Hardiness Zone: 3-8
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Recommended by Our Growers
Turtlehead commands an extensive range, encompassing almost all of the eastern U.S. (skipping only Louisiana and Florida) and stretching into Canada. In the wild, it is almost always found in swampy areas or on streambanks. It tends to seek out part shade, but may grow in full sun in cooler regions. With such a wide natural range, it is not surprising that it has been awarded many names and many uses over the years. People have used Turtlehead, or “Shellflower,” “Fishmouth,” “Bitter Herb,” “Snakehead,” “Codhead,” or “Balmony” for a variety of ailments.
Turtlehead is the favored food of the caterpillars of a gorgeous little butterfly called the Baltimore Checkerspot. This intricately patterned black, white, and orange butterfly is native to much of the Northeast and Midwest, but it is now rather rare, and is actually endangered in some places where it was once more prevalent. Your patch of Turtlehead may help this special creature survive, which is reason enough to grow it!
How to Grow
Turtlehead is ideal for rain gardens or other low points on your property where water collects. It can be happy in average garden conditions, too, as long as it gets some supplemental water during extended dry spells. In drier soils, you may want to plant it in partial shade and work in plenty of organic matter to help hold in moisture. Don’t try to grow Turtlehead in deep shade, however, as the stems will grow too tall and flop. Leave plants standing for wildlife cover in winter, then cut them to the ground in early spring.
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