Content Detail

White turtle-head is an upright, vase-shaped plant that carries white flowers tinged with pink over thick, dark green leaves. The hooded flowers bloom at the end of the stems in late summer to early fall. The plant likes consistent moisture and can tolerate wet soil, so it is useful near the edges of streams or ponds. This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Figwort
  • Family (botanic) Scrophulariaceae
  • Tree or plant type Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area
  • Size range Large plant (more than 24 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Moist, well-drained soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Occasional flooding, Wet sites
  • Season of interest late summer, early fall
  • Flower color and fragrance White
  • Shape or form Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate


White turtle-head is 3 to 5 feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

This perennial is native to the midwestern and eastern United States, as well as southeastern Canada. C-Value: 8

Attracts birds or pollinators: 

Bumblebees, leaf beetles, and occasionally, the ruby-throated hummingbird are attracted to this plant.

Leaf description: 

The dark green, opposite leaves are narrow and lance-shaped. The leaves are toothed and have about a 1 1/2 inch petiole (stem).

Flower description: 

The hooded white flowers are clustered on the ends of sturdy stems. Sometimes the flowers have a pink tinge on the edge of the petals. They bloom in late summer or early fall.

Fruit description: 

Each oval capsule has several flat seeds.

Plant care: 

Plant white turtle-head in sun or part-shade and in fertile soils with adequate organic matter. In areas with hot summers, more shade and consistent moisture is needed, so keep the soil evenly moist or wet. It may need staking if it is in too much shade. Its size can be kept under control by pinching in spring, but you run the risk of taking off the blooms. Do not cut it down in the fall.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

This perennial has no serious problems, but can get mildew if air circulation is poor. It is tolerant of wet sites.



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