A Tale of Two Mistflowers

October is the month for mistflowers in my garden. I grow three different ones, two of them closely related. My original mistflower is the Blue mistflower, Conoclinium coelestinum.

My first experience with this plant was a four-inch pot, purchase 20-ish years ago. It spread with joy and bloomed gorgeously many an October, until deep shade forced its move to a different spot along this pathway. As this second area has become shadier, it’s time for another move. Soon, I’ll pull the strands up by their roots and transplant the lot to my SIL’s garden. That said, the Blue mistflower has grown and bloomed in this less than ideal situation, perhaps not like it should, but enough to satisfy.

Blue mistflower blooms are a rich purple-blue, its leaves slightly scalloped and triangular shaped.

My other Conoclinium is Gregg’s mistflower, Conoclinium greggii, happily grows in one of my rare full sun spots. I planted this group from a one gallon pot a year ago and it has thrived.

The Gregg’s blooms boast a lighter shade of lavender-blue–more lavender than blue, I think. The foliage is bright green with a pinnate leaf structure. I admire the foliage and even when not blooming, this mistflower is an attractive groundcover.

The spent blooms turn to toasty puffs as they mature, or once a freeze ends the blooming.

Mistflower blooms are fuzzy and feathery.

The lighter Gregg’s,

…the darker Blue.

Mistflowers bloom primarily in autumn, but pop out a few flowers throughout spring and summer. These plants are groundcovers, drought tolerant (Gregg’s more than Blue) and dormant in winter. I prefer the Blue mistflower–the color is divine–but pollinators prefer the Gregg’s.

Unknown fly-type enjoying some of Gregg’s nectar.
Unknown wasp (I think it’s a wasp…) on Gregg’s flowers. Any ideas who this character is?

There are other “mistflower” plants, several in shrub form, but these two blue-hued mists are well-worth growing. Gregg’s mistflower grows in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. Blue mistflower enjoys a much wider range throughout the United States.

You won’t tell a sad tale with either of these mistflowers!

23 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Mistflowers

  1. It’s pretty common in the fall for me to come across Conoclinium coelestinum along the upper reaches of Bull Creek. I’ve seen Gregg’s mistflower as recently as last week at the Wildflower Center, where it’s been cultivated for years. In the wild, the closest it gets to Austin is five counties southwest of here. All the mistflowers seem to be insect magnets, as you’ve shown in some of your pictures.

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    • I agree. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen Gregg’s on any walk/hike I’ve taken around the Austin area, but I have seen the Blue out in the wild. The last time I was at the Wildflower Center in autumn (last year) their Gregg’s was stunning–of course! And the Queen butterflies and all sorts of other critters were all over it. So fun to watch. I don’t get that many Queens, but I have seen a few in recent weeks.

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    • It has a nice, slightly misbehaving quality to it–which I like. One of my readers who gardens in Wisconsin grows the blue mistflower and those are some tough winters. Your gentle UK climate will be nice, though the blue might be a bit invasive. It’s easily controlled though, just yank up by the roots. Good luck and I hope to see some photos of it in your garden in the not-too-distant future.

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  2. Your post has really made me think about Mist Flowers. I have one (that is in my upcoming post) that planted itself in one of my beds. The Tveten’s have a Eupatorium coelestinum in their book as a wild one in the Houston area. They all look very similar. I would be interested to see what you think when I post the photo.

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  3. Conoclinium coelestinum is a prolific spreader here at the coast. It’s nearly taken over the Artist Boat on Galveston Island, and last year it was quite thick at the Hamby Nature Trail in Brazoria County. It’s quite an insect magnet; not only butterflies, but bees and flies seem to adore it.

    I’ve not seen the Gregg’s in the wild around here.The only photos I have of it are from Medina, Gillespie, and Colorado Counties. That’s kind of weird, really. The USDA maps don’t show it in Gillespie or Colorado; I wonder if it might have escaped cultivation in those areas.

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    • The Blue mistflower really seems to get around! As for the Gregg’s I guess garden escapees are possible, but I think Gregg’s is considered “native” throughout Texas. I think of it as more of a drier, western plant, whereas the blue likes more moisture.

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  4. Tina I’m sorry I didn’t write before, but since the operation I’ve lost a lot of weight eating the same thing, I’ve run out of strength and I’m very nervous: I don’t know what happened to me, I hope to recover soon from this. Your mist flowers are magnificent, I love them. Blue mistflower has divine flowers like plants, and to think that they all come from a potted plant from 20 years ago, I love it! Gregg’s mist flower its lavender-blue flowers are wonderful as its leaves, I love them. The last flowers are beautiful. His flowers are preferred by pollinators. The photos are magnificent. Tina I hope you and your husband are in good health. Take good care of yourselves and keep you safe and sound. I remember a lot about you. Very affectionate greetings from Margarita 😘😀

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  5. Whoa – that’s quite the spread in just one year from a gallon pot. I can see the allure of the blue version, but all those insects make up for the lack of color. I like the leaves, too. And yes, I agree. This past week was a nice surprise, but we need to spread that blue around, I think! 😉

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    • The Gregg’s mistflower is definitively in its happy place, I think. More blue would be great, but we’ll suffice with what we have, I guess.

      I can’t comment on your blog (boo!) but I enjoyed reading about your progress for the nuns. Doing good for nuns, especially in a garden, is a good thing!

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