Depressed? Try St. Johns Wort in Your Garden

Florida is lucky to have blooms even in January (from 2013)
Florida is lucky to have blooms even in January (from 2013)

No matter how you spell it, St. Johns Wort, St. John’s Wort, St. Johns-wort, or St. Johnswort (Hypericum spp.), the plants in my yard are like a ray of sunshine with their pretty bright-yellow flowers blooming at all times of year. Hypericum is a member of the Clusiaceae Family.

From May 2015
From May 2015

Most of the lower 48 states have at least one of the dozens of species in this genus listed as native to their area (click on the “Subordinate Taxa” tab in that link to bring up the maps of native species for your area). It appears in various forms from ground cover to small wildflowers to thick shrubs.

Some species have four petals, while some have five, such as this Roundpod St. Johnswort from May 2010
Some species have four petals, while some have five, such as this Roundpod St. Johnswort from May 2010

Surprisingly, Common St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum), from which a supplement used as a homeopathic remedy is created, is an introduced species and is considered invasive or a noxious weed in many states. We here in Florida are lucky to not be invaded by this exotic with roots in Europe to central China, northern Africa and the western Himalayas.

Some are dainty wildflowers and appear grass-like
Some are dainty wildflowers and appear grass-like

Florida can, however, boast 31 documented species (according to University of South Florida Institute for Systematic Botany’s Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants) as native to the State.

This species’ common name is after St. Andrew (From July 2012)
This low growing shrub is named after St. Andrew (From July 2012)

It is underutilized as a landscape plant, which to me makes little sense, since it comes in various shapes and sizes giving it great potential for many applications in the home landscape.

From May 2014
From May 2014

Several species work as emergent wedlands plants, that are great pondside or in a rain garden, while others are perfect for drier or sandy soils. Some like full sun, while others are perfectly fine with varying degrees of shade.

With petite flowers and low growth, this species is called Dwarf St. Johnswort
With petite flowers and low growth, this species is called Dwarf St. Johnswort

These plants are great additions to attract wildlife, as bees and butterflies appreciate the nectar and pollen provided by the flowers. The Georgia Wildlife Federation reports that St. Johnswort is a larval hosts for the Gray Hairstreak Butterfly in their state.  This workhorse species provides nectar and pollen for bees while songbirds and game birds use seeds as a food source. H. densiflorum provides habitat and food for small mammals, birds and waterfowl, according to Calvert County, Maryland Department of Planning & Zoning Calvert County Native Plants; Recommended Trees and Shrubs.

Attractive to Pollinators
Attractive to Pollinators

Several species are recommended in Florida as great native alternatives to common invasive plants and I’m sure would fit the bill in your neck of the woods, as well. Given its extended range and versatility, its worth a look to see which species of this vast genus would fit your own gardening needs.

Dragonflies land on emersed species
Dragonflies land on emersed species
From April 2014
From April 2014
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7 thoughts on “Depressed? Try St. Johns Wort in Your Garden”

  1. Great post! I’ve got a species that is coming up naturally around the yard that I am trying to identify. So far it’s an attractive small shrub; the largest one is perhaps 18″ tall and wide, after one year. Four petals on the flower. Bluish green foliage. I’ve browsed the USDA Plant Database, but will browse the Florida link you’ve provided and see if I can get a match. Their photo selection seems to be quite good.

    Liked by 1 person

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