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The Humble Turtlehead is Winning Converts


The turtlehead (Chelone obliqua) is native to the moist woodlands and mountains of Eastern and Midwest North America. It’s one of the few native woodland plants that blooms after spring — in this case from July through September.


  • Prefers partial shade but can take full sun if planted in wet soil.
  • Prefers moist soil, even if it’s wet and clayey.
  • Spreads to form large clumps.
  • Hardy to Zones 3 to 9.


  • Supplemental watering in periods of drought.
  • Pinching out the shoot tips in spring produces shorter, bushier plants.

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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