Meconopsis Visual Reference Guide. Includes Photos, Taxonomy And Cultivation Information.
Monday, 22 April 2013
What I have grown under this name was clearly a hybrid. These are tall
evergreen monocarpic plants which send a racemose flowering spike up a metre and a half to 2
metres with up to 6 flowers on each flowering side shoot from main stem (panicles).
The foliage varies from gold to grey and flowers from deep yellow, through
pinks to almost black red and is variable lobed but never pinnatafid. As now classified
M. napaulensis is a yellow flowered
plant about 1 metre high. Seed is readily available and usually germinates well
and they like rich ground and will normally flower at 3 or 4 years and then die
– and if more than 1 plant with a good seed set. M paniculata. This
is like the above but normally yellow and as the name suggests flowers after a
few years as an attractive evergreen rosettes to a racemose flowering spike up
to 2 metres maybe even a little more. The stigma is mauve coloured. There were
two forms in cultivation from different parts of the Himalayas – one with acid
yellow /green foliage and the other with grey foliage both covered in fine
hairs. Red flowered specimens have been reported both recently and in the past
but I am opening minded about whether these should be directed to this species.
Another easy species widely available and would probably succeed with care in
the south U.K. perhaps covered with a pane of glass in winter. M. pinnatifolia.
Recently described relative of M.
discigera from the Discogyne.
Seed has been available but here I only grew them on for a few months. M. prainiana. One
of the M. horridula relatives split
off by Chris Grey –Wilson. Have germinated this but not grown it on. Images of
this look very nice and it would be desirable, probably possible north of the border
but seed would be difficult to obtain. M. prattii.
Another relative of M. horridula from
China. Very easy probably anywhere in the U.K. Often in cultivation a washed
blue mauve but an interesting and attractive plant. Seed germinates well and
pricked on plants grow quickly and usually flower as a biennial. M. pseudointegrifolia.
See integrifolia M. punicea. An
extra-ordinary plant with clear scarlet flowers and the one that I grow well
here. A real holy grail when I became involved in Meconopsis and then Peter Cox of Glendoick in Tayside managed to be
on the first plant hunting expedition allowed back into China for many years.
He re -established this plant and gave me seed but I promtly lost the plants
and he gave me some seed from his seed bank and this time I had learned my
lessons. It needs sowing as soon as ripe. That is watch the capsules every day
and the moment they naturally start to split open sow the seed thinly in large
pans in damp peaty compost and cover in 2 to 3 mm of fine grit. Place trays in
total shade, cool and under cover with netting of only 3 to 4 mm mesh over and
then cover with about 10cms of damp spoil/peat. This should be kept undercover
from rain but the topping of soil always kept moist. This is brought out at the
beginning of January, the soil and netting removed and seed pans placed where
they can be gently warmed by a soils warming cable below which is turned on at
the end of January. They often germinate without heat. I expect at least 90%
germination. They will germinate if harvested when fully ripe and sown normally
in spring but usually only a fraction will come. This year I had a poor harvest
and was given seed mid-July which was sown immediately. As I write in late
February about 2 seeds have germinated while my own seedlings are throwing
their first true leaves. M. quintuplinervia.
A purple but usually perennial close relative of the above – the harebell poppy
of Farrer. One of the great garden plants. Relatively few clones in cultivation
but easily vegetatively propagated. Colour from clear mauve to almost blue and
different clones produce flowers of different sizes. From seed it needs
treating like M. punicea but seed is
rarely obtainable. M. regia. Big
yellow flowered evergreen monocarpic with large non pinnate grey leaves. A red
form has been reported. My early plants hybridized with M. ‘napaulensis’ types. If we are to conserve a recollection needs
growing in isolation. M. robusta. A tall
yellow relative of the above with small flowers widely spaced and usually 1 to
each side stem. What is called’ biological interest only’!M. rudis – see M. horridula
Named for a great plant collector and a wonderful plant like a pink M.
integrifolia. George Sherriff was one of the great Meconopsis collectors and
gardened at Ascrievie in Tayside. My first garden visit with the Scottish Rock
Garden club was to Ascrievie and I did meet Betty Sherriff, his wife, who
showed us round the garden. A Himalayan plant now I think sadly out of
cultivation. However in the 1930’s a pink M.
integrifolia was described from China – this sounds mighty like M. sherriffii.
Can be brilliant blue plants some of which are perennial. Really like a M. grandis but ALL flowers on basal
scapes never a raceme. Many forms – some much more difficult than others very
much depending on where collected with high altitude specimens as always more
difficult. I flowered 4 different seed collections last year but a cold wet
summer meant no seed set and few have survived flowering. A very desirable
species. M. staintonii. This
is really where all the coloured M. ‘napaulensis’
have come from. Named after the collector Adam Stainton and a monocarpic
evergreen with tall racemes of pink or red flowers. M.
The exception to the rule that cross fertilisation is essential to set seed.
This happily sets massive amounts of seed from a single plant. Maybe all in
cultivation have a very limited genetic diversity – but they still set seed. I
have always covered these plants every winter with glass so that the rosette
centre is dry but they plant has plenty of moisture. Takes up to 5 years to
flower and has wonderful white flowers of a good size on racemose flowering stem.
The image below is the first bloom of M. punicea for 2013.