A unique flower that adds beauty to any garden, the Lady’s Paint Brush (sometimes spelled Lady’s Paintbrush), also known as the Tassel Flower and Emilia Irish Poet Flower, is a rare annual favored by heirloom gardeners and botanical gardens. A relative to the Aster family, its bright orange cluster of flowers makes it an excellent choice for late summer and fall displays. Introduced into England in 1799 from its native ground in the Far East, the people of the Victorian era referred to it as ‘Flora’s Paintbrush’.
How to Plant Lady’s Paint Brush
The planting time for Lady’s Paint Brush seeds is April to May, just after the last frost of the season for your area. Thin the seedlings two to three inches apart to prevent overcrowding. Seeds can be stared indoors under a warm grow light six weeks before transplanting outside. It likes a location where it can get the benefits of a full sun and relies on rich organic soil that provides good drainage. Adding a slow release fertilizer to the soil during planting gives it an added boost to help the growth and development of blooms.
How to Care for Lady’s Paint Brush
Lady’s Paint Brush is a hardy annual that can grow from 24 to 36 inches tall. It does not like a lot of water and prefers several days of dry weather in between watering. If watering with a sprinkler system, position it so that the plant only receives about two to three cups of water every four to five day. The blooms, at the end of long slender stems, open between July and September to display a gorgeous flaming orange button-like flower. Apply slow release granular fertilize to the soil around the plants every month.
Lady’s Paint Brush is susceptible to fungus in the early spring when rains may be frequent and heavier, and during the summer months be watchful for the Japanese beetle.
Where to Plant and How to use Lady’s Paint Brush
Lady’s Paint Brush makes a beautiful addition to borders, garden corners, along rock walls or fences. Plant them in patio pots and containers for a great addition to backyard gathering areas. Plant some seeds next to yellow and burgundy mums to have a colorful fall display. Use it to create a backdrop for a vibrant display of yellow and purple pansies. It is a favorite with bees, butterflies and birds. Lady’s Paint Brush makes a great addition to cut flower arrangements for summer and fall bouquets.
Sources: Baker Creek Heirloom Seed, Annie’s Annuals