Epimedium 2010

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Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Following the spring display of Epimedium flowers, and the few summer-blooming types, I've been carefully reviewing the foliage on Epimedium species and cultivars, after all, much of the year it is their foliage that's the main attraction. Also, I review them with a new eye as I launch into an ambitious Epimedium hybridization program, looking for best characteristics, paying special attention to those that are truly drought-resistant (many get stressed under prolonged drought).  Most interesting this time of year, is the fall color "signature" of many epimedium.  Studying the autumn color (as well as the remarkable spring foliar colors), gives clues about various traits and species lineages, the signature fall colors often showing in hybrid progeny.  What follows are some random thoughts of Epimedium that I like:

1.  E. ilicifolium - the narrowish spiny-edged leaves make a concise dwarf clumping plant.  No fall color per se, but evergreen and small, with yellow flowers, this is a plant I shall be working with based on its growth habit.

2.  E. brachyrrhizum - I'm showing a young plant here, I have some gorgeous large clumps, one of the VERY BEST species in every aspect.  Evergreen leaves, it sometimes throws new growth of plum red; a great clumper, not a runner.  Excellent potential for hybridization.

3.  E. sempervirens 'Secret Arrow' - sempervirens is a key species in a hybridization program, absolutely drought-tolerant, not blinking an eye during this summer's record-breaking drought.  Hybrids involving sempervirens are equally drought-tolerant.  This particular selection introduced in 2000 by Garden Vision Epimediums is fantastic during all seasons, a low-growing clumper, but the fall color is outstanding.

4.  Darrell Probst introduced 9-10 different forms of E. grandiflorum f. flavescens, which he numbered to keep them separate; all are nice, all are distinct.  This is E. grandiflorum f. flavescens #5, which takes on a unique caramel color in fall, highlighted by brown veins.

5.  E. grandiflorum 'Tancho' - fall color reminds me of Lays Potato Chips, heart-shaped leaves are a very pale yellow with thin brown edging and veins.

6.  E. x youngianum 'Hagoromo' - hot pink fall color on this small one, and the delicate white and lavender flowers are slender and utterly unique.

7.  E. x youngianum 'Tamabotan' - a kaleidascope of dark purple foliage colors in spring and into summer, but the fall color is a diaphanous light pink color.  A number of other Epimedium take on such autumn colors.

8.  E. lishihchenii - one of the best species, heavy textured evergreen foliage is low and spreading, and very long season (into summer) of large spidery yellow flowers.  In autumn, the shiny rugose red-flushed leathery leaves are outstanding.

9.  E. x 'Black Sea'- a truly unique cultivar in every respect, in autumn and winter the evergreen foliage turns an unusual red-black shiny foliage.  In this photo, the color is just starting, by December it is near black.

10.  Epimedium x setosum - evergreen hybrids between E. diphyllum and E. sempervirens, this is by far one of my favorites. Clump forming plants covered with minute pure white flowers in spring, in fall taking on orange red foliage colors with green veining.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

I have not thought of Epiphyllums as fall color plants but I look at your picture with envy!  I would plant Epiphyllums all over if I had access to other than the common plants. Have to try seeds I presume.

Edit:
I have been busy bringing my Epiphyllums and other cacti indoors! I know the difference between Epiphyllum and Epimedium! (Even if you don't believe it!)

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hoy wrote:

Edit:
I have been busy bringing my Epiphyllums and other cacti indoors! I know the difference between Epiphyllum and Epimedium! (Even if you don't believe it!)

We believe you Trond, it's fun to see how our minds work and play tricks, particularly as we get older ;D

I had a large batch of self-sown seedlings on E. sempervirens 'Mars', most I potted up, but left a few (3) where they sprouted.  It's hard to resist those perky little self-sown Epimedium seedlings. You can catch a bit of the rust-orange fall foliage color on Mars to the right.  Each seedling has taken on different fall colors, little hearts of promise.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Promising dainties!
Your soil still looks dry, Mark. Here it is so soggy I can almost not walk on the lawn. It's like a bog.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hoy wrote:

Promising dainties!
Your soil still looks dry, Mark. Here it is so soggy I can almost not walk on the lawn. It's like a bog.

What you're seeing is the well-decayed bark mulch that I top dress with.  The soil itself is actually fairly heavy rocky clay soil; no need to amend the soil much for Epimedium, they're not overly particular about soil.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

McDonough wrote:

...it's fun to see how our minds work and play tricks, particularly as we get older ;D

Well I don't know about how "fun" it is, but it happens to us all.  I am embarrassed to say that I sent Coryphantha vivipara seed to the NARGS seed ex labeled Cryptantha!  Fortunately, our super duper intake manager, Laura S., knew better.  We are so lucky to have her!

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Every autumn I struggle with the same dilemma, whether to shear back Epimedium foliage in the autumn or wait until spring.

The mounds of foliage have such presence this time of year, some still dark green while many plants are already dormant, other epimediums lasting well into autumn and early winter with persistent and brightly colored foliage.  It typically goes like this; I plan on shearing the foliage after most leaves are killed off with the onset the really cold weather, but as it so often works out, a heavy snow arrives and the weather turns frigid, burying the plants in snowy ice-pack, so now I have to wait until spring.  But in spring, the "eppies" can start sprouting so early, it becomes *very labor intensive* to careful snip off all of the dead or battered foliage and twiggy remains of stems, without damaging new growth and inadvertently cutting off flower stems. With several hundred maturing eppies in the garden, the spring cleanup can be a nightmare if the old foliage isn't removed in time.

It's November, and foliage mounds of Epimedium still make a visual impact... what should I do, what should I do?  If I were smart about it, I would shear off all foliage very soon!

1-2  Colorful Epimedium foliage in the autumn garden.
3    Epimedium brevicornu with yellow foliage.
4    Epimedirum sempervirens 'White Purity' with leathery red fall leaves. I leave the foliage on
      most sempervirens forms, some overwinter quite well.
5    Epimedium x versisolor 'Versicolor' - one that is "semi-evergreen", I usuall leave the foliage on
      and snip off old foliage in late winter.
6    Epimedium grandiflorum var. coelestre 'Alpine Beauty' - colorful!
7    Epimedium planting near my deck stairs.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

Mighty fine assortment, Mark.  Especially the multicolored ones.  Not many people would think of planting perennials for fall color.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Hoy
Hoy's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-12-15

Very decorative, Mark. My few Epimediums are far more anonymous.

Trond
Rogaland, Norway - with cool, often rainy summers  (29C max) and mild, often rainy winters (180 cm/year)!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Approaching mid November, some epimediums are still showing colorful fall foliage.

1.  E. lishihchenii is coloring up fantastic this year.  I showed this earlier, where the leathery veined leaves are red-hued, but the color now is most impressive.  I see this as a species to play a primary role in hybridization efforts.  I used many of the spidery yellow flowers to cross with other pollen parents, but next year I need to focus in on hybrids with this plant.  The full sheath of highly colored evergreen leaves are about 6" tall by about 24" across, never dropping a leaf during our intense drought this past summer.

2.  Two E. grandiflorum cultivars, 'Purple Prince' on the left, 'Princess Susan' on the right.

3.  The common E. x rubrum turns burnished leather brown-red colors in the fall and early winter.

4.  E. grandiflorum cultivar, dark chocolate colored leaves, distinctive.

5.  Two evergreen E. sempervirens cultivars, 'Aurora' on the left is still green, 'Vega' on the right.

6.  E. x 'Enchantress', a hybrid between E. dolichostemon and E. leptorrhizum.  It is a large clump but shed about 90% of its leaves during this summer's record drought, so only a few evergreen leaves remain.  Too bad, because they are a deep blackish-purple color in fall.  Today I moved the plant to a more moisture-retentive spot.

7.  A view of three 3-year old Epimedium hybrid seedlings, the one in the center is taking on a unique blackish color to the leaves, don't know from what parent this comes from.

8.  One of 9-10 E. x youngianum 'Liliputian' hybrids (which crossed with one of several possible evergreen species), with small evergreen leaflets and diverse leaf petioles.  The previous black-leaf hybrid seedling can be seen in the upper right.

I have decided in some parts of the garden this year, I will finally be proactive and shear some of my Epimediums in the fall (now) rather than in spring, which if I wait too long in the spring, means tons more cleanup work than doing it in the fall, see this separate posting:
http://nargs.org/smf/index.php?topic=274.msg4809#msg4809

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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