The lone voice of horticultural reason

Eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’

Common Name: (White Snakeroot)

I can’t understand why last year was the first time I brought this magnificent perennial home. Never grew it before, finally got around to trying it, I enjoyed its chocolate brown foliage all summer. Then ’round about mid-September, it greens up and sneaks into bloom and just stole my heart. Not flashy, but poised and serene. Bloomed straight through to December 10th — the first hard frost in my yard. My three plants were tucked off to the side of a garden bench, and in a quite shady spot amidst cedar trees they topped out at around 3 feet. The flowers are small, domed, and nearly pure white. Looks oddly native. A true gentleman of a plant.

Use and Culture: Plant in masses (3 or more plants) spaced 18 inches apart, in part sun to shade. Prefers well-drained soil amended with organic matter. I can’t think of another comparable-looking, fall-blooming shade plant, meaning it mixes well and provides contrast with many, many shade favorites. Last summer I had fairly major disease and pest problems with a lot of my plants, yet ‘Chocolate’ remained completely unscathed. Available at better growers, check my column Best Minnesota Perennial Growers.

Don Engebretson
The Renegade Gardener