Wednesday, 7 January 2015


I intend over the next two months to do a weekly note on species ( 1 per week) that are relatively easy in most parts of the United Kingdom. Most Meconopsis grow well in the wetter parts of the U.K. but even here in East Fife within sight and sound of the sea I have no particular difficulties except keeping a degree of humidity in very hot dry summer spells and even then I simply use a sprinkler to damp the surface  morning and evening for a few minutes. The soil here is sandy and alkaline but over many years I have top dressed( NOT dug) in compost made by collecting up leaves (only) and letting them rot. At a year old this is sieved and applied to the surface for about 8 cms. deep and will be weed free. Earth worms of course will stir this into the soil. Like this self sown seedlings, especially of orchids can develop and flower.         

 There are professional suppliers of seed of  some species of Meconopsis BUT by far the best source are the seed exchanges of the Scottish Rock Garden Club, the Alpine Garden Society and the Edinburgh based Meconopsis Group. They all run seed exchanges and species of Meconopsis difficult or impossible to obtain from professional sources are regularly offered.
         Finally there are three basic categories of Meconopsis. 1. Monocarpic evergreen (lovely rosettes over winter) take several years to flower usually with a very tall flowering spike with hundreds of flowers - colours from white through pinks and red to  shades of blue. 2. Monocarpic deciduous. Go to a dormant bud in winter and then re -emerge in late spring - may take several years to reach flowering size and then die. M. aculeata is one of these. 3. Polycarpic plants that usually go through  winter  with a reduced rosette or even no winter leaf but if happy flower every year. Some like the wonderful red Meconopsis punicea do usually not survive flowering but can occasionally and there may be some strains that do. FINALLY Meconopsis almost always need cross pollinating with a second plant so multiple plantings are essential for the long term collection of seed. The only exception I know is M. superba which has set seed for me from a single plant but cross pollination  would be best. In FUTURE I will try to be brief with each species!!
The first species is Meconopsis aculeata.