Thursday, September 17, 2009

Golden Stars At Your Feet

Chrysogoum virginianum - Golden Star

Imagine wandering through an idyllic woodland with aurelian stars at your feet.  That is something like what you experience with Golden Star, properly named Chrysogonum virginianum (pronounced "chris-OG-oh-num vir-gin-ee-AN-num").  Appropriately enough, the name means "gold star from Virginia."  It also goes by another common name: Green-and-gold.  I like "Golden Star" best.

Chrysogonum virginianum
is unique, being the only species in that genus.  It's native to the eastern U.S., ranging from Pennsylvania to Ohio and Kentucky, southward to Louisiana, and eastward to north Florida and Georgia.

Goldenstar is cultivated as a ground cover perennial.  Plant height ranges from 6" to 9".  Foliage is semi-evergreen, meaning that the 1" to 3" long leaves remain green in warmer regions.  Dark yellow flowers appear sporadically from spring through summer.

It thrives in full sun to partial shade in USDA climate zones 5 through 9 in slightly moist, well-drained, humusy soils with slightly acid pH.   Because it needs consistent moisture, partial shade is recommended in the hottest climates, though heat itself is not the issue.

Goldenstar is most effective naturalized in shade gardens and woodland settings.  Though it grows a little tall for a lawn substitute, it will tolerate some foot traffic when established.  Ajuga makes a fine companion plant.  It also combines well with such natives as Violets (Viola spp.) and Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).

If soil is compacted, prepare the planting bed by cultivating at least 10" deep, removing all traces of weeds.  If the soil is high in organic matter and friable, it may not require cultivation.  Compost may be incorporated into the soil, if necessary.  Incorporate 10-10-10 fertilizer at a rate of no more 2 lbs. per 100 square feet into the top 4" to 6" of soil. Avoid synthetic fertilizers contacting any part of your plants.

Space the plants 12" to 18" apart. Dig planting holes into the cultivated soil a little less deep than the depth of the growing container. Place the plants into the holes and back-fill, watering as you go. Press soil around the root balls. Do not cover entirely the root balls with soil. The tops should be slightly exposed. Add a top-dressing of mulch around the plants, not on top of them, about 1" deep.

Because it likes slightly moist, well-drained soil that is high in organic matter, plant Goldenstar with other plants having similar cultural requirements.  Fertilize sparingly and irrigate when necessary.  Goldenstar spreads by sending out runners, much like strawberries.

Chrysogonum has no serious pests or diseases, and it's deer-resistant.  It's a wonderful addition to the native woodland garden.

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