Indian Pink

Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica), is a native herbaceous perennial that occurs naturally in South Carolina. Also known as pinkroot, this perennial has showy, tubular flowers that open in mid-May in the Piedmont, and up to 2 weeks later at higher elevations.

Indian pink has elongated flower buds that form at the top of each stem and mature to a scarlet red. The flowers have 5-pointed star petals that create a yellow star at the top of the floral corolla.
Indian pink prefers to grow in semi-shaded, woodland sites with adequate soil moisture. Indian pink will also grow along edges or rich, moist woods in partly-sunny sites. In a landscape setting, irrigation may be required in more sunny areas. Plants grow upright to 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 feet tall. In sunnier sites, plants will be more compact, produce more flowers, and foliage will be denser. In shadier sites, the plants will be taller and leggier.
When preparing to plant Indian pink and any other plant, it is best to amend a large landscape bed with organic matter rather than amending a planting hole. Amending with composted (decomposed) pine bark improves soil drainage (especially in clay soils), maintains the natural soil acidity that is important for this native perennial, and helps to suppress soil-borne diseases. Leaf compost can also be used. All types of organic matter help the soil hold on to applied nutrients for the plants to slowly utilize.
Generally, one needs to amend the soil with organic matter to 10 to 20% of volume. This will make very good quality soil without changing the soil structure extensively. In landscape beds, apply a 1 to 1 1/2 inch deep layer of organic matter over the planting beds. Then till in the organic matter 6 to 7 inches deep. Choose a site that has not been limed in recent years because this perennial requires acidic soil.
The best time to plant most perennials is in the fall so the roots can grow during the fall and spring months so a plant will be better established before the heat and drought of summer. Acid-forming fertilizers are the best to use because of the need for acidic soils. Look for a shrub plant food or a holly, azalea, camellia, or rhododendron fertilizer. A soil test will determine the best fertilizer analysis to choose. To encourage faster growth, fertilizer perennials twice during the spring (April 1st and mid-May) to cover the main spring growing period. Make sure the fertilizer is not touching the stems or foliage.
After three years, Indian pink can be propagated by division. Each division should have a growing point or stem. Divisions are best made in early summer so the plants have time for root development before they go dormant in the fall.
Indian pink is also easy to propagate from seeds. Seed capsules will ripen by early July, but the seeds are not help long in the capsules before they scatter nearby. Bag the capsules before the mature seeds are ejected. Plant seeds immediately. Some seeds may bloom the following year, but the smaller seeds may need another year to bloom.
Cuttings may also be taken from Indian pink before the plant begins to bloom in the spring. Stem cuttings with 2 to 3 nodes can be rooted in a 2:1 perlite and peat medium or a fine-grade, germination potting soil and mix it with an equal part of perlite. Rooting hormones containing IBA will increase the number of cuttings that will root. Once cuttings have rooted, place the plants where they will receive morning sun and afternoon shade for growth Over-winter plants with cold protection and transplant the following year.
For more information on Indian pink, please visit the Home and Garden Information Center website at Tune in on Tuesday nights to watch “Making it Grow” at 7pm on SCETV or Email Outen at
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