Our pick of peren­nial wallflow­ers

These long-flow­er­ing beau­ties de­light in a range of colours

Garden News (UK) - - Contents -

Most gar­den­ers are fa­mil­iar with bed­ding wallflow­ers, Erysi­mum cheiri, used to un­der­plant tulips and other spring bulbs. Their warm, rus­tic tones in shades of red, or­ange and apri­cot, via pur­ple and mauve, to yel­low and cream, help ig­nite many a sea­sonal dis­play. While most va­ri­eties are used as bi­en­ni­als, dis­carded af­ter flow­er­ing, other types of erysi­mum con­tinue to per­form for three or more years, ex­tend­ing their value.

They also flower over a long sea­son, var­i­ously from spring into sum­mer, or sum­mer through to the first frosts, with ro­bust va­ri­ety ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ never seem­ing to draw breath. The flower heads of many change colour as they age or fade, cre­at­ing a strik­ing two-tone ef­fect. While some are sweetly scented, oth­ers are not, but all make ex­cel­lent bee plants, pro­vid­ing a rich source of nec­tar. Trim off spent flow­ers to en­cour­age fresh new growth.

Derived from a broader range of erysi­mum species than stan­dard bed­ding types, their growth habits range from spread­ing mats to hum­mocky shrubs. All have the tell­tale four-petalled flow­ers that be­lie their bras­sica or cab­bage-fam­ily her­itage.

They per­form best in welldrained, poor soil, prefer­ably on the chalky side, in full sun and in an airy po­si­tion. Wet soil will cause them to rot, and while a rich diet of fer­tiliser might has­ten growth, it short­ens their life. As cab­bage rel­a­tives they’re prone to club root, which is less preva­lent on limed or nat­u­rally chalky soil.

Wallflow­ers are ideal for grow­ing in stony soils, along with other Mediter­ranean plants and, be­ing salt-tol­er­ant, they’re also ideal for coastal sit­u­a­tions. They per­form well in pots of com­post, with ex­tra grit or Per­lite added for drainage.

Prop­a­gate spe­cific va­ri­eties from cut­tings of young shoots taken in late spring to early sum­mer. Left untrimmed va­ri­eties such as ‘Bowles’s Mauve’

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