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Mexican Hat
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Mexican Hat is a plant that many of us take for granted because it is such a common sight virtually everywhere due to it's prolific seeding habit.  However,  in the home wildflower or perennial garden, it is a delightful plant that blooms freely over a long period, makes a great long-stemmed, interesting cut flower, and does well in that hot, dry, poor-soil area that nothing else seems to grow in.  It is yet another perennial member of the huge Aster family, and close relatives include sunflowers, black-eyed Susans, shasta daisies, and purple coneflower, to name a few.

As stated above, Mexican hat is an incredibly easy to grow plant.  Throw some seed on the ground, scratch it in, and wait for the show!  It transplants well,  blooms the first year, and thrives on neglect.  It is a mainstay in many perennial and wildflower mixes, and like many of it's cousins, as long as it is in a well-drained and sunny position, it will happily put on a long, colorful show (approximately May - July).

MexicanHat11.jpg (18608 bytes)Mexican Hat can be propagated from seed or root divisions.   The seeds germinate more readily after stratifying, and this can be accomplished by planting in very late fall or very early spring when the ground is still semi-frozen.  The plants make a nice addition to mixed perennial gardens, wildflower gardens, naturalized areas, or grouped together as a focal point.  They look great with other daisy-like flowers such as shasta daisies, purple coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, or with contrasting blue flowered plants such as plumbago or bachelor's buttons.  Bees and butterflies love this plant, making it a good choice for a habitat-type situation.  

Being a close relative of the purple coneflower (Echinacea), which is a well-known medicinal plant, it's not surprising that historically Mexican Hat has also been used for its medicinal properties.  The Indians boiled leaves and flowers to make a tea to use externally on snakebites and to reduce symptoms caused by poison ivy (see How to Make Herbal Teas for more information).  They also apparently drank the tea for non-specified medical complaints, but since there is very little information available on this aspect of usage, we do not recommend using it internally at this time.

 

 

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