Plant of the Month for September 2017

Polygala chamaebuxus
Polygala chamaebuxus

Description and General Information:

Shrubby milkwort is native to alpine meadows, rocky ridges and open woodlands of west-central Europe. Plants are evergreen with small, leathery, boxwood-like leaves.  Stems grow to about 15 cm but plants will spread to form a groundcover-like mat.  In warmer areas, plants start to bloom in March but in the north, not until June.  The fragrant flowers are solitary or in pairs, looking something like a pea-blossom.  Typically the flowers are creamy yellow but the cultivar 'Grandiflora' has bright purple-pink flowers with bright yellow stigma.

Cultivation:

Shrubby milkwort prefers full sun to part-shade and evenly moist, but not soggy, humus-rich soil. It is not fond of hot temperatures or drought.  It prefers acidic soil. In warmer regions, dappled sun under a high canopy is ideal.  In cooler regions, they combine well with heaths and heathers in full sun. It has no serious pests or diseases. Hardy through zones 5-8.

Propagation:

Seeds, cuttings and division.

Seeds:

Direct sow at 20 C;  no stratification period required.

Cuttings:

Mid-summer cuttings generally root within a few weeks.

Division:

After blooming, larger mats may be dug and cut into smaller pieces.

 

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