In the late spring and early summer, you may spot a plant with flowers that almost look like pincushions. These flowers have also been compared to stars and even fireworks due to their tightly-packed florets that are backed with petal-like bracts.
The masterwort plant, also known as Hattie's pincushion, not only has unique flowers, but it also happens to be one of only a few cut flowers that thrives in the shade. That's why this gorgeous plant is perfect for anyone whose landscape doesn't get a whole lot of sun, but would still like a pop of color in their garden.
|Common Name||Masterwort, Hattie's pincushion|
|Family||Apiaceae, aka Umbelliferae|
|Mature Size||1-3 ft. tall, 1-2 ft. wide|
|Soil Type||Moist, well-drained|
|Soil pH||Acidic, neutral|
|Bloom Time||Spring, summer|
|Flower Color||Green, purple, red, white, pink|
|Hardiness Zones||4-9 (USDA)|
Masterwort makes a fine addition to either the middle or back of both shaded garden beds and borders. Due to its habit of growing completely upright, it can easily be paired with shade-garden plants like mounding perennials, such as hostas.
Since it's a woodland perennial, masterwort will grow best in partially shaded locations. The masterwort also enjoys having access to a regular supply of moisture, which means it can be grown near water gardens or streams, or any other areas in your landscape that tend to stay wet—even near a leaky water spigot.
These hardy plants do not require anything to prepare for overwintering. They will return in full force and bloom in the spring.
The masterwort is a perennial that prefers a little bit of shade, so be sure that it will receive either filtered shade all day or just the morning sun with shade during the hottest part of the afternoon. If you happen to live in a climate with cooler summers (not surpassing 75 degrees), masterwort will tolerate being grown in sunnier spots.
The masterwort will thrive in soil that's moist and well-drained, as well as rich in organic matter. If your ground happens to have sticky clay or sand that may cause soil to dry up more quickly, consider adding a liberal amount of organic matter before planting. You can also add an inch or two of compost every fall.
Masterwort must be watered regularly, particularly when temperatures are hot and dry. It can actually thrive in the kind of consistently wet soil that may cause other perennials to suffer from root rot. This perennial won't be able to tolerate periods of drought, so you may see fewer blooms and crispy brown foliage if it doesn't receive ample moisture during the summer months.
Temperature and Humidity
If you live in a hotter climate, consider spreading a two- or three-inch layer of mulch over the soil to help keep it damp longer. Less moisture will be lost to evaporation, which means it will remain available for your masterwort plant.
For the best growth, masterwort should be fertilized once or twice a year. Mulching should also be done to help keep the soil temperature cooler for your masterwort's roots—and it can also help suppress weeds. As an added bonus, organic mulches such as compost, pine needles, or shredded wood will decompose over time and improve the quality of your soil.
Types of Masterwort
There are several varieties of masterwort, including:
- Abbey Road: Light red to dark pink flowers, purple-red stems
- Bloody Mary: Dark red flowers with a silvery green center
- Buckland: Light pink flowers, 3 feet tall
- Hadspen Blood: Dark red flowers, maroon stems, 2 feet tall
- Moulin Rouge: Ruby red with dark purple tinged edges flowers
- Roma: Large pink flowers, 2 feet tall
- Ruby Wedding: Red flowers, two-foot stems
- Star of Royals: White tinged with pink flowers
These plants won't require a great deal of pruning, but you can extend your masterwort's bloom season by removing old, faded flowers. Known as deadheading, this process can help your plants continue to bloom even into July. You can cut masterwort back to a couple of inches tall in either the late fall or early winter (you'll know it's time once the frost has killed the foliage), as well as trim the stems back to a few inches tall in early spring as the plant's new growth resumes.
These plants are propagated either through division or growing from seed. Dividing the plant is easy and best done during the spring (it can also be done in the early fall if you see large plants that need to be separated). Here's how:
- Using a spade, dig up a mature clump.
- Split the clump by taking the spade and cutting it in half. You can also sometimes carefully pull the piece apart with your hands.
- Replant the two sections in the desired appropriate location and water.
How to Grow Masterwort From Seeds
Masterwort seeds require cold stratification—wrapped in a moist paper towel, placed in an airtight container, and put in the refrigerator for four to six weeks—to germinate. You can collect the seed from some of your flowers after they've bloomed if desired. Then plant them in the ground in early spring or fall, or in a container with potting soil and water. If you plant them in the early fall, expect to see them grow and produce blooms in the following spring.
Potting and Repotting Masterwort
Though it's typically a perennial, you can enjoy masterwort as an annual if you grow the plant in a large container with drainage holes and a drainage plate. That way, you'll be able to enjoy its unique, intricate flowers up close (be sure to put it in a shaded area of the deck or patio).
When potting masterwort, use professional potting soil and ensure that the crown is either at or just above the surface of the soil. Once it's potted, water your plant immediately and consider applying a broad-spectrum fungicide to avoid crown and root rot. If you see the potted plants getting too big for the container they're currently in, simply replant them in a larger container.
Common Pests & Plant Diseases
Masterwort does not have many issues with pests or diseases. You might discover that slugs are fond of chewing and residing on the leaves. Aphids and leaf miners can also attach themselves to the leaves.
The plant can get a fungal disease known as powdery mildew, which looks like dusty white or gray powder on the leaves. Remove the affected leaves, and apply a fungicide, such as neem oil.
How to Get Masterwort to Bloom
This plant shows off its blooms in the late spring each year, usually around May through early summer, but as stated previously, the blooming season can be lengthened by pinching off, or deadheading, the spent flowers. Taking off those blooms that have reached the end of their life will also keep your garden looking neat and well tended. Ensure the soil is kept watered and does not get dry, or the blooms will not be as plentiful.
After the plant is done flowering and summer is over, take the early fall to cut it back to a couple of inches tall, preparing your plant for the next blooming season.
How deep do you plant Masterwort?
Plant Masterwort in soil up to or just below the crown (base) of the plant. Water until the dirt is moist.
What plants go well with Masterwort in gardens or containers?
Does Masterwort attract butterflies and bees?
Masterwort attracts many pollinators, including butterflies, bees, and beetles. The Moulin Rogue variety is known for attracting the Monarch butterfly.