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Persicaria

Knotweed
Polygonaceae
Perennials

Sturdy easy-to-grow plants with handsome leaves and showy white or pink flowers. Some kinds tend to get out of hand and need to be controlled.

Persicaria affinis

Himalayan native. Spreading plant to 1 ft. high and 2 ft. or more wide. Deep green, lance-shaped, finely toothed leaves are mostly basal; they growto  2–4 1/2 in. long, turn bronze in winter. Dense, erect, 2–3-in. spikes of bright rosy red flowers bloom in summer, early fall.

Persicaria amplexicaulis
Persicaria amplexicaulis

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Persicaria amplexicaulis

Himalayan native. Forms a big clump to 4 ft. tall and wide when plants are in flower. Medium green leaves are pointed ovals up to 10 in. long. Blooms profusely from midsummer to fall, bearing narrow, 4-in. blossom spikes similar to those of lavender but in a wider range of colors—pink, purple, red, white.

Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ (photo courtesy of Susan A. Roth)
Persicaria bistorta ‘Superba’ (photo courtesy of Susan A. Roth)

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Persicaria bistorta

Native to Eurasia. Makes a clump to 2 1/2 ft. high and 3 ft. wide, with large leaves. Tight, 2–3-in. spikes of pale pink or white flowers bloom from late spring until well into summer. ‘Superba’ is a good pink selection.

Persicaria capitata

Himalayan native. Tough, trailing groundcover to 3–6 in. high; spreads indefinitely both by rooting stems and by self-seeding. Oval, 1 1/2-in.-long leaves are dark green when new, take on pinkish overtones when mature. Leaves of all ages have a bronzy cast that deepens in cooler weather; they discolor and die below 28°F/–2°C. Stems and small, round flower heads are pink. Blooms almost all year in mild climates. Best in confined spots (where it won’t be able to spread) or in uncultivated areas. No irrigation needed.

Persicaria vacciniifolia

Himalayan native. Prostrate plant forms a foliage mat to 3 in. high, trailing to 2 ft. or wider. Slender, branching, reddish stems are clothed in oval, 1/2-in.-long, shiny green leaves that turn red in fall. In late summer, 6–9-in. flower stalks bear dense, upright, foxtail-like, 2–3-in. spikes of rose pink blossoms. Excellent as a bank cover or for draping over a boulder in a large rock garden.

Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’
Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’

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Persicaria virginiana

Native to eastern North America and east Asia. Grows to 2–4 ft. tall, spreading indefinitely by creeping rhizomes. Oval green leaves are 3–10 in. long; flowers are insignificant. The species is rarely found in gardens.

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