- Hardy Ageratum for Monarch Butterflies
- Plant Database
- Conoclinium greggii
- Gregg’s Mistflower , Palmleaf Thoroughwort, Palm-leaf Mistflower, Palm-leaf Thoroughwort, Purple Palmleaf Mistflower, Purple Palmleaf Eupatorium
- Synonym(s): Conoclinium dissectum, Eupatorium greggii
- USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
- Blue Gregg’s Mistflower
- Blue Mistflower Seeds and Plants (Conoclinium coelestinum)
- Blue Mistflower Plants to Beckon Butterflies!
- Characteristics of Conoclinium Coelestinum
- How to Start Blue Mistflower Seeds
- Conoclinium coelestinum
Hardy Ageratum for Monarch Butterflies
Conoclinium coelstinum: Blue Boneset, Blue Mistflower, Hardy Ageratum, Wild Ageratum, Eupatorium coelestinum (former botanical name)
- Perennial: USDA hardiness zones 5a-9b (lows -28.9 °C or -20 °F)
- Native to the eastern US, grown in eastern Canada
- Full sun to part shade
- Height: 1.5 to 3 ft feet
- Spacing: 2 to 3 feet
- Flowers: light purple, violet
- Summer through first frost
- Sow seeds directly in fall or spring
- Root division in fall or spring
- Long flowering period- monarchs seek this out all season
- A short “filler” plant that works well between some of your showier flowers
- Care-free plant
- grows quickly from seed
- Favorite nectar source of monarchs
- Provides migration energy for masses of monarchs
- Can be invasive with seeding and underground rhizomes
- Flowers aren’t showy
- Susceptible to White Flies and Powdery Mildew
Looking for a mistflower variety better-suited for southern states? Try migration favorite Conoclinium greggii (Gregg’s mistflower)
Mistflower Leaf Comparison
Mistflower Growing Tips:
- Propagate by direct sowing seeds in fall
- Cut back plants for compact, bushier growth habit
- Water Wisely- Overwatering can lead to invasiveness
- Dig This- When digging up plants, be sure to dig deep enough to get the entire root system or you’ll have new plants sprouting through underground rhizomes
In Minnesota, we pull all our mistflower plants in the fall and let them come back from seed the next season. This keeps the rhizomes from taking over the garden, and the seedlings grow quickly each spring 🌱
Conoclinium coelestinum also attracts painted ladies, queen butterflies, and bees (If you know of others, please comment below.)
1. Conoclinium coelestinum (wild ageratum) plants and seeds from JB
If you’re interested in adding more butterfly plants to your garden, check out our butterfly flowers page
Please post below if you have any questions or comments about growing
Gregg’s mistflower or Wild ageratum in your garden: Share the Joy of Butterflies
- 5 Shares
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Gregg’s Mistflower , Palmleaf Thoroughwort, Palm-leaf Mistflower, Palm-leaf Thoroughwort, Purple Palmleaf Mistflower, Purple Palmleaf Eupatorium
Synonym(s): Conoclinium dissectum, Eupatorium greggii
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Palm-leaf mistflower is a perennial up to 2 ft. tall with palmate leaves deeply divided into three lobes which are again pinnately dissected. Small, purplish-blue flowers cluster together to form puffy, 2 in., cushion-like flower heads.
The species name greggii was named for Josiah Gregg, (1806-1850). He was born in Overton County, Tennessee. In the summer of 1841 and again in the winter of 1841-42 he traveled through Texas, up the Red River valley, and later from Galveston to Austin and by way of Nacogdoches to Arkansas. He took note of Texas geology, trees, prevalent attitudes, and politics. At the same time, Gregg began compiling his travel notes into a readable manuscript. His Commerce of the Prairies, which came out in two volumes in 1844, was an immediate success. In 1848 he joined a botanical expedition to western Mexico and California, during which he corresponded with and sent specimens to the eminent botanist George Engelman in St. Louis. Subsequently, the American Botanical Society added the Latin name greggii in his honor to twenty-three species of plants. Gregg died on February 25, 1850, as a result of a fall from his horse.
From the Image Gallery
Size Notes: 1.5-2 feet.
Size Class: 1-3 ft.
Bloom Color: Blue , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov
USA: AZ , NM , TX
Native Distribution: W. TX to s.e. AZ south to Durango and Zacatecas in northern Mexico
Native Habitat: Frequent along stream beds and overflow areas in the Trans-Pecos, east to Edwards Plateau and Rio Grande Plains. Sand, loam, clay or limestone. Seasonally flooded stream beds; plains; overflow areas
Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil Description: Gravelly, calcareous soils.
Conditions Comments: Greggs Mistflower can be a good ground cover and spreads easily by roots. Often attracts very impressive numbers of Queen butterflies in the Fall.
Use Wildlife: This plant provides deer browse. Butterflies love the interesting divided flowers.
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Larval Host: Rawsons Metalmark
Nectar Source: yes
Propagation Material: Seeds
Description: Not Available
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
Region: AGCP AK AW CB EMP GP HI MW NCNE WMVE Status: FACU FACW UPL
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – Austin, TX
NPSOT – Native Plant Society of Texas – Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT – Fredericksburg Chapter – Fredericksburg, TX
NPSOT – Austin Chapter – Austin, TX
National Butterfly Center – Mission, TX
NPSOT – Williamson County Chapter – Georgetown, TX
Bibref 318 – Native Texas Plants: Landscaping Region by Region (2002) Wasowski, S. & A. Wasowski
Search More Titles in Bibliography
USDA: Find Conoclinium greggii in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Conoclinium greggii in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Conoclinium greggii
Record Modified: 2017-09-06
Research By: TWC Staff, GDB
Blue Gregg’s Mistflower
COMMON NAMES: Blue Gregg’s mistflower, Gregg’s mistflower, Palmleaf thoroughwort, Palm-leaf mistflower, Palm-leaf thoroughwort, Purple palmleaf mistflower, Purple palmleaf eupatorium
BOTANICAL NAME: Conoclinium greggii, Synonym(s): Conoclinium dissectum, Eupatorium greggii
FAMILY: Asteraceae (Aster Family)
HABIT: Perennial up to 2 ft. tall with palmate leaves deeply divided into three lobes that are again pinnately dissected. Small, purplish-blue flowers cluster together to form puffy, 2 in., cushion-like flower heads. Duration: Bloom Color: Blue , Purple Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct , Nov.
CULTURE: Easy to grow in most soils and will spread freely. Water Use: Medium. Light Requirement: sun, part shade. soil moisture: Dry to moist. Soil Description: Gravelly, calcareous soils. Water Use: Medium. Distribution in USA: AZ , NM , TX Native Distribution: W. TX to AZ south to Durango and Zacatecas in northern Mexico. Native Habitat: along stream beds and overflow areas in the Trans-Pecos, east to Edwards Plateau and Rio Grande Plains. Sand, loam, clay or limestone. Seasonally flooded stream beds; plains; overflow areas
NOTES: The species name “greggii” was named for Josiah Gregg, (1806-1850). He was born in Overton County, Tennessee. In the summer of 1841 and again in the winter of 1841-42 he traveled through Texas, up the Red River valley, and later from Galveston to Austin and by way of Nacogdoches to Arkansas. He took note of Texas geology, trees, prevalent attitudes, and politics. At the same time, Gregg began compiling his travel notes into a readable manuscript. His “Commerce of the Prairies” was an immediate success. In 1848 he joined a botanical expedition to western Mexico and California, where he sent specimens to the eminent botanist George Engelman in St. Louis. Subsequently, the American Botanical Society added the Latin name “greggii” in his honor to twenty-three species of plants. Gregg died on February 25, 1850, as a result of a fall from his horse.
USES: Can be a good ground cover and spreads easily by roots. Often attracts very impressive numbers of butterflies.
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Gregg’s Mistflower Eupatorium wrightii (Ageratina wrightii), Blue form is Eupatorium or Conoclinium greggi.
COMMON NAMES: Wright’s Boneset, Wright Ageratina, Wright Eupatorium, Wright’s Snakeroot, Asteraceae (Compositae)
Height: 1 to 2 feet Width: 1 to 2 feet
PLANT CHARACTERISTICS: Deciduous shrubby perennial. Lacy perennial with delicate lavender flowers from July to October. Does well in sun or light shade. Attracts butterflies. Spreads by rhizomes. Should be pruned to 3” after first hard frost. White mistflower is a low-growing, spreading shrub with intricate leafy branches that bear clusters of fragrant white flowers at their tips in September and October.
HABIT: It grows on rocky limestone hills and slopes in the Guadalupe, Chisos and Davis Mountains in the Trans-Pecos. Most Eupatorium species like moisture, but E. wrightii is more drought tolerant than most, although it may need watering during the summer in dry areas. White mistflower’s profuse blossoms attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Its small stature makes it most appropriate for gardens. Heavy shearing in the winter will promote a denser shape and more flowers the following year.
USE: shrubby perennial.
FLOWER COLOR: white but there is a blue variety as well.
BLOOM: late summer through fall.
FRUIT CHARACTERISTICS: dry five-angled achenes.
Almond Verbena (Aloysia virgata)
Also called sweet almond verbena and is the most beneficial insect-attracting plant I have ever grown and the fragrance is wonderful.
Height: 10’ – 15′. Spread: 8’ – 10′.
LOCATION: It thrives in full sun but can adapt to partial shade. In the US, it grows from Missouri south and does particularly well in California and Texas. It is hardy in the southern areas of the UK and would be very successful in Australia.
HABIT: Large deciduous woody shrub or perennial for full sun to light shade. Spikes of white blooms all summer. Strongly resembles Buddleia. Mostly evergreen in the South, with fine-textured gray-green foliage.
CULTURE: Few if any disease and insect pest problems. Easy to grow in well-drained beds in most soils. It has low water and fertilization requirements. Prune between bloom cycles for dense growth. Hardiness zone 8 – 11. Prune away dead wood early spring at bud swell. Needs to be used as an annual in the north.
USES: Summer color, very pleasant and strong fragrance.
PROBLEMS: Freeze damage in colder areas. Not as easy to find as it should be. The main drawbacks to sweet almond verbena are its rarity in nurseries and cold hardiness. In cold winter locales, it may die to the ground and sprout again in spring.
NOTES: Native of Argentina, it has an upright habit with slightly weeping, sometimes ungainly branches. In mild winter areas, the mature plants reach 15 feet in height and 6 feet in width. At the branch tips are highly fragrant, delicate white flower spikes which sway gracefully at the slightest breeze, sending their aroma wafting over great distances. The buddleia-like flowers are produced in cycles from early spring through summer to fall. The wonderful flowers are a magnet to butterflies, bees, wasps and other nectar feeding pollinators.
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Blue Mistflower Seeds and Plants (Conoclinium coelestinum)
Blue Mistflower Plants to Beckon Butterflies!
Conoclinium coelestinum Native Plant Range USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov)
Monarchs, Queens, Soldiers, Swallowtails, Pearly Crescents, White Peacocks, and Little Yellows are all known to frequent these fuzzy little flowers. They come into full bloom in late summer and early fall, and serve as a crucial source of nectar fuel for the fall migratory butterflies. They remain vibrant until the first frost when they die to the ground. When spring returns, the Blue Mistflower bounces right back, usually bigger and better than before.
Characteristics of Conoclinium Coelestinum
The Blue Mistflower is the polar opposite of a hothouse flower. It prefers heavy, wet soil with lots of organic matter (it thrives naturally in ditches and beside streams), but it will also grow in sand, loam, and clay soils. Medium moisture is also fine, and the plant is actually fairly drought resistant. It’s at its best in full sun, but will happily bloom in dappled shade as well. The bitter-tasting foliage means deer and rabbits prefer to snack on something else.
By Judy Gallagher – Sachem on Blue Mistflower, Green Springs Garden Park, Alexandria, Virginia, CC BY 2.0
Hardy in zones 5-10, Blue Mistflower grows to a height of 1-3 feet with a 2-foot spread, and blooms reliably and prolifically. It’s ideal for use as a tall ground cover, and is recommended for erosion control as well. The only real effort needed on your part is to either plant it with lots of room to grow (it spreads by self-seeding and rhizomes) or nestle it into a container. Its exuberant ways will overwhelm smaller plants if they’re too close.
How to Start Blue Mistflower Seeds
Sow Blue Mistflower seeds outside in late fall, or cold stratify the seeds by refrigerating them for 60 days in a plastic bag filled with damp sand. Scatter seeds on soil surface and lightly press in–they need light to germinate. Keep the area moist, and in 7-14 days, you’ll be rewarded by the first sprouts! They bloom the first year in our area, but certainly the second year you can expect gorgeous drifts of vibrant blue-violet color–a refreshing accent in the usual yellow-orange autumn flower palette. You may divide a mature plant to propagate.
Conoclinium coelestinum is an all around attractive plant with leathery, mint-like leaves with prominent veins. It can grow to a height of 3′ and is topped off by several 3″ clusters of lavender flowers. These give way to tufted achenes that allow the seeds to be dispersed by the wind.
Blue mistflower is very easy to grow, and adaptable to typical garden conditions. It prefers bright locations, but will tolerate part shade. Moist, well drained soil is best. It has a rhizomatous root system, and can spread aggressively, particularly if the soil is very rich and consistently on the wet side. It is a prolific bloomer and will add intense color to the garden for up to 2 months, beginning in mid to late summer and extending until mid fall or first frost. Zones 4-10
Easy to propagate from seed, or by root division in mid spring.
Conoclinium coelestinum can be aggressive, but the amount of color it provides to the late season garden is well worth it. It is also an excellent food source for pollinators. Until recently, it was classified as Eupatorium coelestinum.
These days a lot of gardeners and landscapers make a point of including plants that attract butterflies. One of the best butterfly magnets for Texas gardens is blue mistflower.
Blue mistflower starting to bloom after recent rains
(photo Bill Ward)
Blue mistflower has clusters of “fuzzy” blooms, making it look like the old-fashioned garden plant ageratum. Indeed, one common name for blue mistflower is wild ageratum. Another is blue boneset. Despite the names, the color is more lavender than blue.
This plant grows in many-branched clumps that get up to four feet tall, usually shorter in the local calcareous soils. The one- to three-inch-long leaves are either deltoid with blunt-toothed margins or highly digitate, according to species. During cold winters, mistflower dies back to the ground, but it never fails to sprout up again in the spring. All around, it is a pretty easy-to-grow garden plant, and most of the time from late summer through fall, the blue mistflower is covered with blooms that attract a wide variety of butterflies.
The blue mistflowers in our yard are in full sun most of the day. They are fairly drought resistant, but during hot, dry spells, they do appreciate a little watering. Apparently, in this area mistflower also grows well in dappled shade, and it does not require good drainage.
So far, the deer have not browsed our mistflowers. Just for good measure, I spray the plants with a stinky liquid every once in a while, because blue mistflower looks to me like something deer would love to nibble.
Blue mistflower is widely available in nurseries. Hardy cultivars have been developed from the native species. One or two bunches in many gardens will be enough, because it spreads by rhizomes and over time will occupy a large patch. However, roots are shallow, and it is easy to control.
Thoroughwort blooming (photo Bill Ward)
Nurseries probably carry blue mistflowers under the scientific name of Eupatorium, which used to be the accepted genus for a whole group of similar plants. The taxonomists, in their wisdom, have put blue mistflowers in the genus Conoclinium.
The species that grows in eastern Texas and into the eastern edge of the Hill Country is Conoclinium coelestinum. A frillier-leafed species, C. greggii (dissectum), grows in western Edwards Plateau, the Trans Pecos, and farther west. Both these species or their cultivars are in the nursery trade.
My favorite native “Eupatorium,” is no longer in that genus either. It is the thoroughwort or white boneset, once named Eupatorium havanense and now called Ageratina havanensis by many botanists. Whatever the taxonomist call them, you can’t go wrong by including mistflowers, blue or white, in your garden.
In the wild, the bushy thoroughwort is confined mostly to the Edwards Plateau, and so it makes an excellent small shrub in Hill Country yards. It may have a subdued bloom during the spring, but during the fall, thoroughwort is covered with highly fragrant white flowers. If you are interested in what butterflies occur in your area, plant a thoroughwort, and they’ll all come.