Red Thunder Burnet
Flower description / bloom time
Dozens of burgundy-red, knob-shaped flower heads on wand-like stems, to 30 inches tall; blooms in late July through September.
The foliage is pinnately compound. Each medium green leaflet is 2 inches long, lightly textured and toothed. However, when the Japanese beetles start eating holes in the leaves, they become brown and unsightly.
Habit and growth rate observations
Generally, plants took a couple of years to establish, and were described as thin and ‘wimpy’ in first year but ranged from 36 to 46 inches tall and 24 inches wide in the third year. Plant habits were adversely affected by Japanese beetle damage, rabbit browsing, and wind damage.
Site preference—soil & light
‘Red Thunder’ grows best in full sun to light shade in average well-drained soil and needs extra water during periods of drought.
Successes and possible drawbacks—how to overcome them
The biggest drawback to this plant is its attractiveness to critters like Japanese beetles and rabbits. It is one of the first plants in the garden that Japanese beetles go to when it starts to bloom. This is a nice filler plant with hundreds of tiny button size flowers held above the foliage.
Notes from growers/retailers
The flowers are not showy enough to attract the average garden center buyer.
Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’, Hemerocallis (pink or gold varieties), Allium senescens ssp/ montanum ‘Summer Beauty’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Geranium ‘Rozanne’.
Parting “SHOT”— the overall evaluation results were Fair **
‘Red Thunder’ can be a lot of work and probably best for an experienced gardener or collector. It can be useful as a filler plant where its lacy foliage and elongated button flowers can be used to highlight other bolder flowered and foliage plants. Its downfall is that it is a major food source for Japanese beetles and rabbits.