The Story of a Seed: Lacy Phacelia

by Erin Enouen

Every seed tells a story! In this blog series, we explore the in depth story from seed to pack to art for our soon-to-be-released art pack varieties.

komatsunaWhat Makes Lacy Phacelia Stand Out: Known by many names, Bee's Friend, Lacy Fiddlehead, and Purple Tansy to name a few, Phacelia is a highly beneficial flower for pollinators and soil building.

This lovely Southwest native is gaining popularity throughout the entire US (and Europe too!) as an insecary crop, a cover crop, and an  ornamental. We were initially attracted to this crop after hearing about its use to provide nectar to pollinators, but were really excited when we heard about the use of phacelia as a cover crop, especially in no-till systems.

Phacelia is most commonly use as an insectary crop. Its nectar producing skills are incredible, having nectar available 24 hours a day while in bloom. In fact, it does such a great job that pollinators prefer it over other crops. As cover cover crop, it produces a great amount of bio-mass  in just a few short weeks and winter kills, making it easy to deal with in the spring.

phacelia in bouquet

And if that isn't enough, the blooms are quick, elegant, unfurling spirals of lavender loveliness. Plus their long sturdy stems and ferny foliage make them a great cut flower.

phacelia seeds (354x505)

About Our Trials: To test the accolades, we planted a sizable plot of Lacy Phacelia in mid-summer. While it can be seeded in the cooler soils of late spring, to use it as a cover crop it should be planted later. Our crop emerged beautifully and began flowering with in 60 days of seeding! We were immediately struck by the number of bees, both in quantity and species, feeding on the flowers.

With the onset of blooms, we tested the cut-flower capabilities of phacelia and found that the sturdy stems and ferny foliage were great, as well as the multiple flower buds on each flower head. Like most flowers, phacelia should be cut when the flowers just begin to open for the longest lasting blooms.


About the Artist: Frances Gaffney is a painter in New York known for her beautiful landscapes. We were attracted to her painting of the Adirondacks. In her original watercolor painting, Frances depicts an imagined Hudson Valley landscape of a field of phacelia, overlaid surreally with a giant bloom.

phacelia bee

Growing Lacy Phacelia: This is a fuss-free flower, offering its benefit when planted closely together as a border planting or cover crop. Seed 2-5 inches apart, in rows 4 inches apart. Aim for the denser spacing for a cover crop. Phacelia is drought tolerant, requiring watering to get established, but very little after.

Lacy Phacelia,, along with our entire 2016 art pack releases will be available to order in a few short weeks! Look for our Art of the Heirloom exhibit at a gallery space near your by visiting our events page in the weeks to come.