Vernonia, or Ironweed, is not commonly offered in the perennial trade, but it is a native perennial worth noting. ‘Southern Cross’ breaks the mold of the typical tall and massive Vernonia species by producing a relatively short, vase-like habit of long, thin leaves, similar in look to Amsonia hubrichtii.
Brent Horvath of Intrinsic Perennial Gardens made the discovery of this hybrid Ironweed, found among Vernonia lettermanii seedlings (other parent unknown). The leaves are broader than its parent, up to ½" across. ‘Southern Cross’ can be enjoyed for its attractive, textured deep green foliage throughout the summer. It will extend the season of color when it comes into bloom in late summer, producing an airy dome of small purple flowers, similar in look to Asters. Like Asters, ‘Southern Cross’ prefers to grow in full sun.