Plant of the Month for May 2021

Pulsatilla vulgaris

Description and General Information:

Pasqueflower, Pulsatilla vulgaris, is a standard plant in most northern rock gardens. Plants are native across Europe, growing in stony meadows, open hillsides and extending into the sub-alpine. They forms bushy clumps of leaves 20-40 cm tall. The foliage is fuzzy and deeply divided, similar to those of carrots. The flowers develop in early spring, often before the leaves. The flowers buds and stems are covered in a dense layer of white hairs, imparting a silvery-look. The saucer-shaped flowers are 6-8 cm across. Flowers are heliotropic, following the sun throughout the day. The flowers are typically shades of purple or violet, but white, pink and red forms exist. After the flowers fade, they develop into attractive spherical seedheads with numerous long-tailed seeds. The effect is something like a dandelion seedhead.

Cultivation:

Pasqueflowers are sun lovers, but will tolerate part-shade in warmer climates. The growing media should be well-drained, gritty but with some humus content. They have a preference for lime. While tap-rooted, they do require consistent soil moisture. They perform better in cooler climates than in warm areas. They dislike being transplanted so plant out young plants and leave them be. They are hardy in zones 4 to 8.

Blooming Period:

As early as late February in more southern locations until early June in more northerly locations. For the most part, April is the main blooming season.

Propagation:

Primarily seeds

Seeds:

These seeds require a stratification period of 8-10 weeks. Some evidence suggests the tails should be removed prior to sowing. Fresh seed germinates much better than older seed. This species responds to the use of GA which may allow for the forgoing of a stratification period.

Division:

As this is a tap-rooted s[species, division can be very challenging.

Cuttings:

N/A

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