Plant of the Week: Mars Midget pincushion plant

As you make your way through the High Line this spring, notice the different stages of plant growth throughout the park. Some plants are still in their early stages of growth, while others have taken center stage in order to fill in gaps until summer. This is an essential design concept of matrix planting, as it allows a gardener to mimic the ebb and flow of a natural landscape. One plant in particular that works especially well in this gardening practice can be found here on the High Line. Meet: Knautia macedonica "Mars Midget', common name, Mars Midget pincushion plant.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop.

With an agile structure of thin, elongated grey-green stems that support button-shaped ruby red flowers, Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midget' has a subtle yet vital presence in the High Line's xeriscape. A messy network of intercrossing foliage brings some of the characteristic qualities of an open meadow to the urban landscape; and a lengthy bloom period from late spring until early fall helps to sustain the aesthetic beauty of the park throughout the year.

Photo by Ayinde Listhrop.

Whether placed in a container or in a xeriscape, Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midget' can play an important role in a number of varying conditions. With a hardiness that falls between zones 5 and 8, Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midget' can be comfortably grown in well-drained soils with medium moisture, or dry soils with little to no moisture as they are considered to be drought-tolerant. Mars Midget pincushion plant requires an abundance of sun in order to grow 16-24", so be mindful of placing this plant in areas that experience full shade throughout the day.

Knautia macedonica should also be planted in groupings of 3 or 4 to ensure that plants are well-established.

DESIGN TIPS: Due to its thin frame, it is suggested that Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midget' be planted with a companion perennial that provides low-lying ground cover, as to suppress weed growth. If successfully grown in the ideal condition, Mars Midget pincushion plant may live up to three years; all the while attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

This plant can be found in the Chelsea Grasslands between 18th and 19th Streets. However, Knautia macedonica is also located in other areas of the park, including the 23rd Street Lawn and Seating Steps and the Meadow Walk between 23rd and 25th Streets.

The High Line's planting design is inspired by the self-seeded landscape that grew up between rail tracks after the trains stopped running in the 1980s. Today, the High Line includes more than 500 species of perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees – each chosen for their hardiness, adaptability, diversity, and seasonal variation in color and texture. Some of the species that originally grew on the High Line's rail bed are reflected in the park landscape today. Every week we share one of our gardeners' current favorites with you

Our horticultural team counts on members and friends like you to help keep the High Line beautiful and thriving. Join our community of supporters who play an essential role in the High Line's most important gardening projects.

TD Bank is the Presenting Green Sponsor of the High Line.

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