Gardening resources > Life-long learning > Master gardener program > Favorite Plants of Master Gardeners > Kiss me over the garden gate
Cornell University Department of Horticulture
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Cornell gardening resources Kiss me over the garden gate

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Also known as Prince's feather, Princess feather, Oriental Persicary, Persicaria orientalis (Polygonum orientale)

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Joe Manuel, a Master Gardener from Erie County, first fell in love with Kiss me over the garden gate 30 years ago. "It caught my eye in the garden of a friend of my wife's," Joe recalls. "She gave me some seeds and I've been growing it and saving seed ever since."

This seldom-seen annual flower was once popular in gardens a century ago. But Joe thinks it's time for it to make a comeback. "I offered it on a seed exchange list and had more than 100 requests for seed," he notes. "A few seed companies are starting to offer it now."

A native of China, Kiss me ... bears a family resemblance to its distant cousin, Pennsylvania smartweed (Polygonum pensylvanicum), as well as to other cultivated Persicarias. What makes it stand out, says Joe, is that it can grow 6 to 7 feet tall and send up 3-inch spikes of deep pink flowers (that darken as they go to seed) from mid-July until frost.

Though an annual, it will readily self-seed. In fact, the seed needs cold treatment to germinate. "If you collect seed in fall, leave it in an unheated building over winter and it should germinate just fine when you plant it next year."

Any drawbacks? Kiss me ... doesn't like to be transplanted, so it's best to just seed it where you want it to grow, Joe notes. "And the Japanese beetles just love it. But not as much as I do. It's one of those plants worth going out of your way to find."

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