Tuesday, 16 March 2010


This beautiful "Pink Turtlehead", (Chelone lyonii - Hot Lips) blooms from late July right through to October. It's a North American native perennial flower that hosts the Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly.
Chelone comes from the Greek word that means tortoise because each blossom resembles, (without too much imagination required), a turtle's head.
It's a good perennial for late summer colour. It doesn't like excessive heat, but will tolerate full Sun if it has it's requirement of moist soil. Actually, the soggier the soil, the better it will perform in your garden!
The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by bumblebees, but I've seen the Ruby-Throated Hummingbird visiting my flowers for their nectar. But, here is the best part of all... The bitter foliage is usually avoided by Deer and other herbivores. Hooray!!
I've yet to see a white variety growing, but from what I've read, they too are happiest in damp locations such as ditches beside the road. This lovely pink/purple version grows in my shade garden and is considered a rare and possibly endangered species. I have collected a limited amount of seeds from them, so if you're intersted, email/query me here:
- sloanartgallery(at)gmail(dot)com
  • Foliage: Herbaceous smooth-textured.
  • Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings.
  • This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds.
  • Propagation Methods: By dividing the rootball or from seed; direct sow outdoors in fall or early spring.
  • Stratify seeds if sowing indoors.
  • Seed Collecting: Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds.
  • Non-patented native perennial
  • Height: 24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
Thanks for viewing & Happy Gardening : )


debsgarden said...

What a beautiful flower. It does look like a turtlehead. My heart sank when you said it doesn't like heat. It might not do well in my climate. But yours is lovely!

KarenSloan-WallFlowerStudio said...

Thanks so much, Deb. Sorry to hear it wouldn't be a good fit for you. Would perhaps be a bit warm, unless it was planted in a moist and shady spot, but even then it might be questionable...
I must admit, it's the part about them not being a favourite of deer that has me most excited. So many things in my garden are ravaged every year. I suppose everyone has to eat!

fairegarden said...

We do grow this one, Karen, and it is a tough and reliable grower even in the dry part shade of our Tennessee garden. I didn't know about the checkerspot, or hummers, will have to look next year, or move it to a place better for voyeurism. :-)

Deborah at Kilbourne Grove said...

Ooops, I did not know this was an endangered/protected species. We get big buckets of them cut at the flower shop. I am sure that they are grown commercially.

KarenSloan-WallFlowerStudio said...

Frances, that is good news! Perhaps I'll divide mine & move a clump to a better spot for that voyeurism as well! Love seeing the hummers as well! : )
Oh, and that would mean Deb can grow it too! Thanks!

KarenSloan-WallFlowerStudio said...

Deborah, I'm sure you're right. I think, from what I've read, that the white one is the endangered one in the wild, especially in Illinois and a few other States, but this one, (which I believe is "Hot Lips", and I love the name!) and other varieties are definately grown commercially, like you say. Maybe it has to do with them hosting the checkerspot?

Kimberly said...

Great post! The flower really does look like a little turtle head. Pretty little bloom.

KarenSloan-WallFlowerStudio said...

Thanks very much, Kimberly! It's amazing how some plants resemble animals : )