Meconopsis Visual Reference Guide. Includes Photos, Taxonomy And Cultivation Information.
Wednesday, 31 July 2013
An image for people new to Meconopsis. There are 3 basic types of plants in this genus.
1. Monocarpic deciduous - flower after a number of years, foliage dies back totally in winter and then the plant dies after setting copious seed.
2. Monocarpic evergreen - plant may take up to 5 years to flower - most often 3. It starts as a small rosette which over the years becomes larger until a flowering spike and seed are produced, this then dies. These can be a lovely winter feature in the garden especially with frost on.
3. Perennial plants that produce multirosettes and, if looked after, flower year after year. Meconopsis betonicifolia,M. grandis and the hybrid Lingholm are best known. All usually set copious seed but it should not be collected from any species until the capsules have naturally opened.
With tall spikes of many species it may need several collections to save all the seed. If you leave it too late however, high winds can spill much of the seed.
Nothing to do with Meconopsis but this is a plant that grows so well with them in my rather alkaline soil and I have never seen it in another garden. It is Carpenteria californica and only rated Hardiness 3 by the Royal Horticultural Society. It has survived here for many years through some very harsh winters without a sign of a blemish to the evergreen foliage.
This used to be Lilium giganteum but is now Cardiocrinum giganteum and this is the late flowering sub species giganteum and is usually taller than the sub species yunnanense (illustrated earlier). This has taken 8 years to flower but off-sets, all round the old spike, should continue to flower every year, they can also be removed to flower elsewhere.
From now on I shall only post weekly with things I think relevant to Meconopsis culture since most species and cultivars have finished flowering. These images are of the main bed where I grow Lingholm from seed in Caithness. In the lower image the cream flowers appeared from seed and are some sort of complex hybrid with Lingholm and a yellow species - possibly Meconopsis integrifolia. They are sterile, perennial
and do not set seed. The upper image of the whole bed shows a mass of seed pods but they are not ready to harvest until the pods are fully open. Then care is needed since a full gale can cause a lot of seed to shed on the ground.
If you cross a blue poppy, M. grandis or M. betonicifolia with one of the yellow M. integrifolia complex you get a cream coloured hybrid which can be fertile. The blue M. simplicifolia also forms a cream coloured hybrid. This plant, which is rather small, was from a wild collection made on the Serkym La in Tibet and is almost certainly a hybrid with something blue - most likely the very variable M. simplicifolia. Just possible I have muddled the labels as it is a single plant!
I have no seen a cross like this before. The upper flower is I fear just fading.
This is Meconopsis betonicifolia in my garden in east Fife. It is a rather wishy washy mauve. The temperature, the season and the location can alter the colour of Meconopsis from year to year and this site on the east of Scotland tends to produce rather washed out mauves. The one big blue poppy I have never seen anything but the most perfect blue is Slieve Donard ( a x. Sheldonii type). Fortunately this is still widely available, divides up readily and strong growing.
Primula scotica. A plant endemic to Scotland and I usually find it on the north coast of Caithness but this wet year the grass was very long or maybe rabbits could not keep it short - which is necessary. Nothing to do with Meconopsis but this is a Scottish website!
Plants based around what used to be M. horridula have now been divided up into at least 9 species. Some of these simply do not make sense to me and are just excuses for splitting. Two are illustrated here. The dark blue with white anthers on a tall raceme is what is now called M. prattii and is the original easy garden species that would probably grow in some quite dry and hot parts of the world. The other resembles the one that is now called M. horridula and is a high altitude plant (5,000 metres) in the Himalayas. I have always found it extremely difficult and failed with it though I have tried it a number of times. The second plant is one flowering in my garden that resembles the high altitude form in that it is scapose and an attractive pale blue - almost certainly not the real thing I fear!