About Turtlehead: This native wildflower has unique tubular blossoms that resemble the head of a turtle. A host of common names also compare these flowers to snakes, fish, or shells. The genus name Chelone means “tortoise,” referring to the Greek myth of a nymph named Chelone who had the misfortune of being transformed into a turtle as a punishment for her insolence. Native Americans once valued this plant as a medicinal herb with cleansing and stimulating effects; when used as an herb it is called Balmony, and has a sharp, tea-like flavor. The stunning Baltimore Checkerspot butterfly frequents this plant, an important larval host and source of nectar.
Turtlehead Germination: For best results, direct sow in late fall just below the surface of the soil. For spring planting, mix the seed with moist sand and store it in the refrigerator for 100-120 days before direct sowing. This plant adapts to clay, sand, or woodland soil with adequate moisture.
Growing Turtlehead Seeds: These plants must have moist soil for the healthiest growth; watering may be necessary in dry periods. They develop rather slowly and may not flower until their second year of growth. Pinch off the growing tips in the spring to help the plant develop compact, bushy growth; this is especially necessary in partially shaded areas, where the plants have a tendency to become tall and weak. Mature plants can be divided in early spring or fall, though they will also spread slowly by rhizomes and reseed themselves. Turtlehead attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees, as well as resisting deer. This plant makes an excellent choice for wetland plantings or the edges of ponds or streams; it also grows well in containers.
Harvesting Turtlehead: Turtlehead has unique blossoms that make lovely cut flowers, and have a vase life of about a week.
Saving Turtlehead Seeds: The oval seed pods will begin to turn brown and split open when mature; ripe seed will be dark brown in color. Remove the pods and spread them out to dry completely. Thresh to separate the seed from the pods. Store the cleaned seed in a cool, dry place.
Detailed Turtlehead Info: Origin: US Native Other Common Names: Balmony, Fish Mouth, Shellflower, Snakehead Duration: Perennial Bloom Time: Summer-Early Fall Height: 36-48 inches Spacing: 15-18 inches Light: Full Sun to Part Shade Soil Moisture: Moist to Wet USDA Zone: 3-9 Seeds Per Oz: 92,000 Produces smooth, narrow, dark green 6” leaves and clusters of 1-1½” white tubular flowers.