Gooseneck Loosestrife in the Garden
By: Julie Day
If you listen closely, you can almost hear it honking.
Gooseneck Loosestrife – a.k.a. Lysimachia clethroides – what a mouthful of a name for such a simple, lovely plant! Sometimes referred to simply as “Gooseneck,” this perennial gets its name from the delicate white blooms whose graceful arches bring to mind the curve of a goose’s head.
Gooseneck loosestrife taught me an important lesson in my journey as a gardener, one that is not easily swallowed by anyone with a fledgling green thumb. And that’s the lesson of how to dig up and throw away a perfectly good plant, for the simple reason that you have way, way, WAY too many of them!
Gooseneck is – shall we say – an extremely easy-to-grow perennial. And when I say easy to grow, I mean that if I hadn’t learned to thin and discard the extras, the yard would look like a massive flock of goosenecks every summer!
Some people love gooseneck loosestrife for this reason, and others hate it. This plant is great for naturalized areas, or for interplanting with other tall, spreading perennials such as bee balm or garden phlox, where it can spread freely in gorgeous drifts without getting in the way of fussy gardeners. It’s perfect for new gardens (or new gardeners) needing a taste of success, and the cut flowers bring grace and beauty indoors, too.
I enjoy it at the back of sunny woodland borders, where it offers a soft transition into the shadows. Gooseneck prefers full sun to part shade and needs average watering and humus-rich soil, although it’s pretty adaptable. Gooseneck is a great addition to the perennial garden, but don’t buy any – I guarantee somebody in your neighborhood will give you as much as you want for free!