Wednesday, 20 March 2013


These are notes I wrote for another publication about my own personal efforts at growing these species - I have tried about 30 and will over the next few weeks add them as a blog.

M. aculeata. Western Himalayas and straightforward, though seed is often scarce and it is not widely grown.

M. baileyii. Now split from M. betonicifolia but long in cultivation and the easiest perennial blue succeeding with attention even in Southern England. It must be noted that many seedlings will die after flowering and deflowering in the first year may not help and probably better to let it flower and obtain seed. Note at this point, to my knowledge, only M. superba will set seed if self-pollinated, so one plant is not enough!

M. bella. A high altitude dwarf and very beautiful species. Seed used to be readily available from an Indian seed house and it germinated quite well. Seedlings were minute the first year and I always struggled with it. It was once flowered in Scotland by exceptional growers. Will always be difficult

M. betonicifolia. Originally described from south Yunnan. It is very similar to M. baileyi with 9 differences described by Chris Grey-Wilson but most of these are also found in some M. baileyi. It has since been found a bit farther north in Yunnan near Lijiang. It has seeds that produce good oil and my personal suspicion is that the Yunnan plants were selections brought out of Tibet as either a source of oil or medicine or both. It needs good genetic analysis to see if M. betonicifolia and M. baileyi really have evolved separately to different species.

M. concinna. Have tried this from seed which germinated but did not grow on. A high altitude plant likely to be difficult if not impossible in the U.K.

M. delavayi. This is an instructive species since it has been well grown and established in northern Norway and indeed its continued cultivation in the U.K. has depended on an annual supply of seed from Finn Haugli from Tromso. It was awarded an FCC as long ago as 1913 and was grown by Trotter near Inverness very successfully for many years. In Fife I struggle with it but in Caithness it grows reliably and flowers regularly and has even set seed. Dr.Peter Cox grew it well at Glendoick until some unspeakable person dug up and stole his plants. They would have certainly died. It does have one rare advantage in that it will grow from root cuttings or even regrow from plants that have been heavily slug eaten. Cuttings grow on reliably but are difficult to overwinter. Seed germinates very reliably but seedlings at about 2 months old are prone to a fungal attack. Generally Meconopsis of most species hate chemical intervention especially insecticides but a little dilute fungicide can help this species.