July 19, 2013

Do You Need a Rattlesnake Master in Your Garden?

rattlesnake master by Defining Your Home Garden and Travel
Eryngium yuccifolium (aka 'Rattlesnake Master').
Looking downhill in the deer resistant meadow garden. July 15, 2013
The first time I saw Rattlesnake Master was at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.  I saw it again in The Battery Gardens in New York City and was hooked on the architectural form of this native wildflower.

This is now the third growing season and my plants have matured into tall, sturdy stalks supporting branches tipped by white globes. I grow mine in a meadow mix of flowers (daisies, coneflowers, bee balm, etc.). But I think the white globes would be spectacular against a solid green or burgundy foliage background or among grasses.

The bluish rosette foliage at the base of Rattlesnake Master resembles yucca leaves, but don't use the leaves to fight off rattlesnakes. The eyebrow-raising common name for Eryngium yuccifolium originated from the Native American tea, brewed from the roots, used as an antidote for rattlesnake bites.

The one-inch globes are made up of tiny white flowers defended by prickly bracts, so wear gloves if cutting stems for indoor flower arrangements.  The deer and rabbits haven't nipped a single globe from my plants, but bees and other pollinators are attracted by the heavy honey scent emitting from the flowers.
This wildflower is hardy in zones 4-9 and is suitable for dry to medium soil conditions in part to full sun. It's tall—three to five feet, but since the spacing is one foot apart, you can squeeze it in to tight spaces and let the globes rise above garden companions. It's a great see-through perennial, too. 

My plants have survived months of drought one summer and months of rain this year. Although I started with small plants, Rattlesnake Master can be grown from seed.

With the interesting name and fascinating form, I highly recommend Rattlesnake Master for your garden. It's an easy keeper. Really.

rattlesnake master by Defining Your Home Garden and Travel
Looking uphill in the meadow garden.
New blooms. July 9, 2013
rattlesnake master by Defining Your Home Garden and Travel


Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.

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Defining Your Home, Garden & Travel

Home, garden and travel tips by Freda Cameron

Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

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Paris, France; September 2013