Zone: 3 to 7
Soil: sand to loam with some clay
Light: Full sun to part sun
Bloom colour: Pink
Bloom period: May
Height: Up to 1 foot
Moisture: Usually dry to medium
Prairie Smoke is native to Ontario and much of the western half of the continent. This plant is an early source of nectar for bumblebees. The flowerheads are upside down which restricts the pollination to bees. The closed flowerheads make the nectaries difficult to access for most bees. Bumblebees can force their way in and open up the flowers.
To attract bees and for best visual effect, this plant should be planted en masse at the front of a border. The closed flowers, although covered with purple sepals, will not attract much attention but the seed heads are quite striking and extend the season of interest for this plant. They are plumed with each individual strand attached to a seed to aid in its dispersal. The plant may also spread through its rhizomes.
For wetter soils, one can plant Water avens (Geum rivale). Their flowerheads do not need to be forced open by bumblebees. While the flowerheads of Water avens are prettier than those of Prairie smoke, the seedheads of the latter plant somewhat more striking with their longer styles. Water avens can be grown in exactly the same conditions as Blue flag iris.