University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Perennial of the Month - December 2000

Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon'

(per-si-care' ee-ah my-crow-ceh' fal-ah)

Common name: Smartweed, Knotweed, Fleeceflower

Family: Polygonaceae (Buckwheat)

Height x width: 24" x 30-40"

Growth rate: vigorous but not invasive as many other relatives (sterile so not seed invasive, non-stoloniferous so not root invasive)

Foliage: main feature of this cultivar, being deep burgundy in early spring with dark and mint or white-edged center ("chevron"); in summer may be a blend of burgundy, red and silver; color varies with temperature, being more intense in sun and heat; elongated heart-shaped 1-1.5" wide and 3-4" long; dark red stems and often pink central vein

Flowers: none significant

Hardiness: USDA zones 4-9

Soil: tolerates most including heavy clay

Light: sun or shade

Pests and problems: none significant

Landscape habit, uses: clump-forming; borders, accents, mixed containers, massed; effective combined with silver foliage such as Silver Mound Artemisia, yellow flowers such as from Coreopsis

Other interest: originated with Crystal Palace Perennials in Indiana, being introduced commercially through PlantHaven

Other culture: low maintenance

Propagation: cuttings, but license required for commercial propagation

Sources: Crystal Palace Perennials (IN), Shady Oaks Nursery (MN), for list of wholesale sources contact PlantHaven

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