With its long chains of pink blossoms, kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate is a great addition to a garden. This plant will bloom from mid-summer until fall. It is a favorite cut flower and can be dried and used in floral arrangements. The large, coarse-textured foliage can create a backdrop for other plants. This fast-growing plant can grow to 7 feet tall and can be used as a quick screen when grown densely in groups.
Also known as lady’s fingers, prince’s feather, princess feather, and oriental persicary, this fast-growing flower will adapt to any climate as an annual flower. When the weather warms up, the plants grow very quickly, eventually reaching a mature height of five to seven feet, rewarding gardeners with blooms from early summer to first frost. Best of all for those who like tall flowers, this heirloom never needs staking.
In the San Francisco Bay area, 4-inch pot transplants of this annual are available from Annie’s Annuals in Richmond or in garden nurseries with an Annie’s section (like Yamagami Nursery in San Jose).
As you would imagine from the mature size of this flower, kiss me over the garden gate adds visual bang to the back of the border. Another great site for this tall plant with a small footprint? The barren side yard, which is often a forgotten pass through with a few uninspiring foundation shrubs installed by the builder. Instead, imagine towering fronds of rosy flowers with a few dahlias or cosmos plants tucked in as anchors.
The flowers are a welcome addition to the cutting garden for adding mass and height to arrangements, and crafters will find that the blooms dry well. Polygonum goes well with celosia. The rosy pink flowers stand out against green zinnias, and they complement blue flowers like bachelor’s buttons as well.
Although kiss me over the garden gate is native to China, it has a long history in American gardens, going back to President Thomas Jefferson, who liked to include bold plants in his famous gardens.
This flower is classified as either Polygonum orientale or Persicaria orientale. The plant can be invasive. The pendulous racemes of kiss me over the garden gate are similar to some varieties of amaranth. Flowers are usually a rosy magenta hue but can vary from white to red. Leaves are slightly hairy and ovate.
If you cannot get the transplants from Annie’s Annuals, you can start plants from seed. You need to chill seeds with a cold period to simulate winter and help break their dormancy. There are a few ways this can be done. Give them a simulated winter by storing seeds in the refrigerator or freezer for a short period of time. After the seeds have gone through their chilling process and begun to germinate, it is best to thin them out since they will become quite tall and large.
A bit of benign neglect does not harm this easy-care annual. Average soil, an inch of rain per week, and no supplemental fertilizer will keep you in blooms all season long.
In general, kiss me over the garden gate is pest free, but Japanese beetles can sometimes be a nuisance. If you notice any skeletonized leaves on your plants, you can place traps with lures at the border of your property and control the next generation in your turf with an application of milky spore.
- Genus: Persicaria orientalis
- Light: Sun
- Plant Type: Annual
- Height: 3 to 8 feet
- Width: Up to 2 feet
- Flower Color: Pink
- Foliage Color: Blue/Green
- Season Features: Summer/Fall Bloom
- Problem Solvers: Good for Privacy, Low Maintenance, Good for Containers, Cut Flowers
- Propagation: Seed