June Blooms in my Georgia Garden: Hypericum, St. Johns Wort

Some of the most unusual blooms in my garden are found on the Golden St. Johns Wort, Hypericum frondosum. Clusters of bright yellow blooms cover the shrub in June. The blooms are difficult to describe, but I'll try. The flower looks like a yellow fluffy ball of stamens backed by flat yellow petals that curve backward a little bit. Just take a look at the photo. When in bloom, nearly every flower has a bee on it, just about all the time.

A small shrub, Hypericum frondosum, has blue-green leaves that are long and narrow. It is deciduous in our climate. Hypericum makes an excellent speciment plant but is eye-catching when massed in a large garden. 

The variety we grow is 'Sunburst', and it is slightly variegated with a creamy yellow edge to most of the leaves. Excellent color in the Fall when leaves turn a reddish orange. Sunburst grows to about 5 feet tall with a mounding habit. It is a great choice for Georgia and other Southeastern states. 

Blooming a little later is the Bushy St. John's Wort, Hypericum densiflorum. The word densiflorum indicates dense flowers. Hypericum densiflorum is native to the coastal areas of the Eastern United States.

Elongated leaves are bright yellow-green.

Blooms are slightly smaller than those on frondosum, but the bright sunny yellow flowers absolutely cover the shrub and are loved by pollinators of all kinds. If you look closely at the photo, you can see blooms in all stages of development, showing that Shrubby St. John's Wort blooms for a very long time.
This hypericum is even more versatile than frondosum and can be grown in moist areas along stream banks as well as on dry hillsides. 

Hypericum densiflorum is threatened in some states and endangered in others, so do not dig it from the wild. Although Shrubby St. John's Wort is bushy and compact, it is not a dwarf and will reach up to 6 feet tall at maturity. 
St. John's Wort is easy to grow. All Hypericums can be grown in full sun or shade. Most of mine are in deep shade and they still bloom prolificly. This is a shrub that actually thrives in poor, sandy, acid soil--as long as drainage is good.

Of course, regular water is best, but Hypericum is very drought tolerant once established.Hypericum blooms on new wood, so it can be cut to the ground in late winter and it will still bloom in summer. Growth rate is moderately fast. If pruning becomes necessary, wear gloves, since hypericum has a sap that can irritate sensitive skin and may cause an allergic reaction.

If you'd like to grow them massed or as a hedge, space them 3 or 4 feet apart.Drought tolerant, so great for xeriscaping and a good choice for a roadside planting.

The blooms attract butterflies and other pollinators to the garden.

St. John's Wort can be grown in virtually any American garden, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 5-9. 

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