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Growing Pulsatilla: All About Pasque Flowers

Pulsatilla (Pasque Flowers): Beautiful Flowers and Showy Seedheads For the Spring Garden

The Pasque flowers (genus Pulsatilla) are a group of popular perennial wildflowers native to the Northern hemisphere, dispersed across a wide swath of Europe, Asia, and North America. Gardeners enjoy growing Pulsatilla for their fabulous early spring flowers, soft, fuzzy, gray-green foliage, and showy, silky seed heads that persist for many months after the flowers have faded.

In their native habitats, they grow primarily in grasslands where the soils are alkaline and of limestone origin. They have deep tap roots and are herbaceous, losing their leaves in winter. The leaves re-emerge in early spring before they flower. Blooming for many weeks in early spring, the Pasque flowers are an ideal companion plant for many early spring blooming bulbs such as wildflower tulips, miniature daffodils, and crocus. Like the bulbs, Pasque flowers are an invaluable source of early season nectar for honeybees and native bees.

Pulsatilla cultivation

Pulsatilla vulgaris is the common Pasque flower of western and central Europe and has been cultivated there for hundreds of years. So it's not surprising that horticulturists have been breeding this species to expand the range of flower colors available to the gardening public. Jelitto Seed of West Germany has been a leader in Pasque flower breeding. High Country Gardens is pleased to offer three of their selections; 'Rote Glocke' (Red Bells)'Rosen Glocke' (Pink Bells) and 'Blaue Glocke' (Violet Bells). All three selections are outstanding garden plants displaying excellent vigor and profuse displays of large, deeply colored flowers.

Growing Pulsatilla

Plant them in well-drained, alkaline soils with full to partial sun. In moister climates, these perennials are best situated on sloping beds, hillsides and in raised beds so their roots don't sit in waterlogged soil over the winter months. They love cold weather and aren't a good choice for the southern half of the country. Allow the plants to release their seeds before cutting off the old flowers stalks to allow them to gently re-seed themselves. Young seedlings can be transplanted without too much difficulty. But established plants, with their long, deep tap roots, resent transplanting and should be left alone.

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Text by Founder and Chief Horticulturist David Salman.

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