Indian pink, also known as pinkroot, is a stunning native perennial that adds a splash of color to any garden. With its showy, tubular flowers and vibrant scarlet red petals, Indian pink is a favorite among hummingbirds. In this article, we’ll explore the landscape uses of Indian pink, the importance of soil preparation, fertilization tips, popular cultivars, and propagation methods.
Indian pink thrives in semi-shaded woodland areas with ample soil moisture. You can also find them along the edges of rich, moist woods in partly-sunny spots. If you plan to grow Indian pink in a sunnier location, be prepared to provide irrigation. The plants typically reach a height of 1½ to 2½ feet, with denser foliage and more compact growth in sunny sites. In shady woodland habitats, they tend to be taller and leggier.
To ensure the optimal growth of Indian pink, it’s essential to prepare the soil properly. We recommend amending large landscape beds with organic matter rather than just the planting hole. Composted pine bark is an excellent choice as it improves soil drainage in clay soils, maintains the necessary acidity for this native perennial, and helps suppress soil-borne diseases. Leaf compost can also be used. Organic matter helps the soil hold onto nutrients, allowing the plants to utilize them gradually.
For a high-quality soil, amend it with 10 to 20% organic matter by volume. Spread a 1 to 1½-inch layer of organic matter evenly over the planting bed, then thoroughly mix it by tilling to a depth of 6 or 7 inches. Remember that Indian pink prefers acidic soil, so it’s best to choose a location that hasn’t been limed recently. Fall is the ideal time to plant these perennials, as roots grow during the fall and spring months, establishing the plants before the summer heat and drought. Don’t forget to apply mulch to the landscape beds for added protection.
Given Indian pink’s preference for acidic soil, it’s important to use acid-forming fertilizers. There are several organic fertilizers that work well for acid-requiring plants. For example, Espoma Holly-Tone (4-3-4), Fertrell Holly Care (4-6-4), and Jobe’s Organics Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Fertilizer (4-4-4). Slow-release fertilizers like Lilly Miller Ultragreen Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Food (10-5-4) and Sta-Green Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Food (10-5-4) are also suitable options. Conducting a soil test will help you determine the best fertilizer analysis for your plants. Fertilize the perennials twice during spring, such as on April 1st and mid-May, to cover the main growing period. Be careful not to allow the fertilizer to touch the stems.
One popular cultivar of Indian pink is ‘Little Redhead.’ This variety grows to a height of 24 to 28 inches with a spread of 20 to 24 inches. It produces abundant blooms that attract butterflies and hummingbirds. ‘Little Redhead’ is hardy in USDA zones 5b to 9 and adds a touch of charm to any garden.
Indian pink can be propagated by division after three or more years of growth. To divide a plant, dig it up and rinse off the soil to expose the root system. Use a sharp, serrated knife to cut the plant into divisions, ensuring each division has a growing point or stem. Early summer is the best time to make divisions, allowing sufficient root development before the plants go dormant in the fall. Larger divisions may even bloom the following spring. Seed propagation is also an option, but keep in mind that the seed capsules ripen by early July and explode to scatter the seeds. Bagging the capsules can capture mature seeds for immediate planting. Some young plants may bloom the following year, while smaller seedlings may take an additional year to bloom. Tip cuttings can also be rooted in a perlite and peat medium or fine-grade potting soil mixed with perlite. Using rooting hormone containing IBA will enhance the chances of successful rooting.
Indian pink is a resilient and attractive perennial that brings joy to any garden. By following the tips and techniques shared in this article, you can create a vibrant and thriving display of Indian pink in your own backyard. For more information and a wide selection of Indian pink and other plants, visit Ames Farm Center. Happy gardening!