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Setting up a wildlife garden

Plants for butterflies

Plants for bees

Plants for hummingbirds

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Scrophularia marilandica (Late Figwort/Carpenter's Square)
Scrophularia flower

Zone: 4 to 8

Soil: Sand to loam

Light: Part sun to light shade

Bloom colour: Green on the outside

Bloom period: 8 weeks from mid-summer

Height: Up to 72 inches

Moisture: medium

Attracts: Bees, wasps and possibly hummingbirds

Notes: Late Figwort is native to Mannitoba, Ontario, Quebec as well as the Eastern half of the United States. It is found in dry woods and thickets. In terms of its looks, it is rather uninteresting and you probably would not plant it in a prominent part of your garden. The leaves are coarse and the flowers are green on the outside while being reddish on the inside. The flower has 5 stamens, one of which sits at the top of the flower and is infertile. The other stamens, which are yellow and fertile are located with the stigma on the lower side of the flower. It is quite an upright plant and will easily fit in between other tall shade plants.

If is worth finding room for Late Figwort in a shady wildlife garden because there are not too many plants that offer the same nectar rewards over such a large part of the growing season whilst tolerating a fair amount of shade and dryness. It is easy to grow, but a heavy mulch over the top of this plant while it is overwintering will probably kill it.

Its attractiveness to insects has been somewhat exaggerated on the internet as plants in the shade cannot compete for pollinators with plants in sunshine. On the other hand, this plant gets a slow but constant stream of visits by beneficial wasps. In particular, Carpenter's square has special relationship with Bald Faced Hornets which make up the majority of the visitors that pollinate this plant in my garden.

This plant is nearly impossible to find in a regular plant nursery. You will have to contact a local native plant nursery to see if they have it.

Scrophularia marilandica - Carpenter's square
Carpenter's square
Scrophularia marilandica - Carpenter's square
Flower of scrophularia
Flower of Scrophularia marilandica
Scrophularia with Eumenes
A potter wasp obtaining nectar
Carpenter's square with Joe Pye Weed
Carpenter's square growing with Joe Pye Weed