Plant of the Month for August 2010

Scutellaria alpina; photo by Todd Boland
Scutellaria alpina

Description and general information

Alpine skullcap is native to mountainous regions of southern Europe and the Caucasus region.

Plants form upright mounds that reach about 20 cm (8") in height and 30 cm (12") in spread. Flowers are produced in short terminal racemes. Their snapdragon-like blooms are two-toned, bluish-purple, lavender or yellow with a contrasting white lip. They are hardy to zone 3. There are three named selections 'Arcobaleno', 'Greencourt' and 'Moonbeam'.

Cultivation

This skullcap does not pose any difficulties in cultivation. Any well-drained soil and full sun will suit it well. They do not appear to be fussy about soil pH.

Bloom period

April to May in more southern locations while July is the main blooming season in more northern areas. In the north, plants may bloom into September.

Propagation

By seed or division

Seed

Some references claim that this species of skullcap may be direct sown at about 20 C with germination occurring within a few weeks. Others claim a stratification period of 6-8 weeks will result in better germination. On a personal note, mine germinated freely after a stratification period.

Division

Large plants may be dug and divided in spring or early fall.

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