Meconopsis Visual Reference Guide. Includes Photos, Taxonomy And Cultivation Information.
Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Another rather dull picture, this time of Meconopsis punicea plants in a rather wet garden today. This species nearly always flowers as a biennial and thus dies after flowering in the second year. The bigger you can get the plants in their first year, the better they will be flowering the next. They do not go completely dormant and new smaller rosettes of leaves will soon develop and at least here in the east of Scotland I find they need no winter cover. I lost many plants this spring and only have 8 plants to flower next year. I do however have a really large set of sowings made as soon as this years seed ripened and these seed trays are all being kept cool, dark and damp until late November when they are uncovered and they will often germinate, even in the cold, by mid January. I am really hoping all goes well since this is quite a rare plant and very desirable.
From now on I shall deal with individual species. Nearly all of this material is available on the main website - Meconopsis World and these accounts are largely for people new to growing Meconopsis. This is a leaf rosette taken in the rain today of Meconopsis superba. This plant was a seedling 2 years ago and is one of the monocarpic group that are evergreen and eventually throw a tall flowering spike, set seed (hopefully!) and then die. This has white flowers with a very dark stigma and a lovely rosette of silver leaves that are not pinnate. It is winter hardy here in Scotland but needs a simple glass cover (two pieces of glass or clear plastic clipped together as a tent) because it does not like winter wet.
It is the only Meconopsis that I am aware of that does not need cross pollinating so a single plant sets seeds, but obviously it is better if you have more than one plant. I currently have three and will do my best to get all three to flower the same year - probably in two years time.
This is a plant I photographed today at Branklyn Gardens in Perth (wonderfully tidy and still full of colour). It is named as Sichuan Silk. It was shown this year at Chelsea as a perennial form of Meconopsis punicea. It was apparent among a germination of seeds of this species wild collected in Sichuan and grown by Ian Christie of Kirriemuir. The others from this collection were typical of the species and died after flowering (monocarpic). This plant is certainly not typical and nor is the flower colour. Having said that re-flowering of Meconopsis in autumn does produce non typical flowers. Again we need a genetic analysis of the atypical plants before we can rule out hybridisation. A final thought, the species M. punicea can be difficult since unless the seed is sown fresh and then the seed trays stored cool and dark to the following spring the percentage germination can be very poor, so a widely available pernennial form, propagated vegetatively, may be very valuable.
A rather dull picture but makes a point. East Fife in Scotland can be very dry and suddenly we have a long hot spell. This is after 4 relatively cool summers. Up to 5 years ago I had found many Meconopsis do not tolerate this current dryness with the exception of M. punicea. The soil is nice and damp already but one cannot create a humid atmosphere for any length of time even with a mist system and most Meconopsis cannot tolerate hot dry air. This is why I grow most of my most precious plants in cool