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Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips' (turtlehead)

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Technical sheet - Chelone

Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips'


Lustrous, deep green foliage is topped in August and September with rose pink, turtle-head-shaped flowers. Red stems persist most of the season. Bronze green early season growth is another distinctive feature.

Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips' LP50 - 50 per flat Availability
Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips' - 72 per flat Availability
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2-3 Feet


1 Feet


12 Inches

Bloom Color


USDA Hardiness Zone 4-7

turtlehead Interesting Notes

Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’ commands attention with lustrous, deep green foliage topped in August and September with rose pink, turtle-head-shaped flowers. For most of the season, red square stems are a truly noticeable feature and bronze green early season growth is very distinctive. Growing 2-3 feet tall, it can be pinched in May to produce a bushier plant. While Chelone generally prefers moist sites, Chelone lyonii ‘Hot Lips’ tolerates dry conditions very well once established and can take part shade. Over time, the plant will spread to form a lovely dense mass in the garden but also looks great as a late feature plant in a container garden.

Chelone lyonii is a native perennial wildflower that originally was found in Virginia to Alabama but has been introduced to the Northeast. Loving disturbed sites or along the margins of wetlands, lakes, or rivers, Chelone lyonii prefers moist rich soil sites and benefits from good composted leaf mulch in the garden. It grows in full sun to part shade but needs adequate moisture for full sun situations. It has some susceptibility to mildew if air circulation in the site is low and soil moisture conditions are stressful.

Introduced to the trade by North Creek Nurseries, it was selected for its clean foliage, great growth habit, and deep pink flower coloring. It is wonderful in a rain garden, naturalized moist site planting, perennial border, or as a container plant. Chelone is well-noted for being prime diet fodder for multiple species of Lepidoptera larvae while also being resistant to deer and other mammals due to its bitter foliage.

Chelone lyonii 'Hot Lips' Growing and Maintenance Tips

Best grown in moist to wet, rich, humusy soils in part shade. Appreciates a good composted leaf mulch, particularly in sunny areas. Consider pinching back the stem ends in spring to reduce mature plant height, especially if growing plants in strongly shaded areas where they are more likely to need some support. In optimum environments, however, staking is usually not required. Propagate by division or top cuttings. 

Good Substitutions

turtlehead Chelone obliqua Tiny Tortuga™ 'Armitpp02'
turtlehead Chelone glabra

Key Characteristics & Attributes

Full Sun
Full Sun
Part Sun
Part Sun
Deer Resistant
Deer Resistant
Cut Flower
Cut Flower

Additional Information

Soil Moisture Needs
Green Infrastructure
Bioretention/Rain Garden
Wetland Indicator Status
Falcutative Wetland (FACW)
Plug Type
Landscape Plug™
Horticultural Plug
For Animals
Caution: Toxic
Native to North America
Clay Tolerance
Season of Interest (Flowering)
Late Summer
Propagation Type