Thursday, 15 January 2015

Meconopsis aculeata

The first species of a series I will recommend for beginners. This is a Himalayan plant quite well established in cultivation. It is related to the Meconopsis horridula complex. It is characterised by flowers usually of a variation on purple/mauve but there are white forms and these are probably still available in seed exchanges. These plants typically germinate fairly easily from seed and then need growing on in a good rich compost. I tend with all Meconopsis to sow seed in pots and then prick on into a tray and plant out as soon as possible and trying hard not to disturb the roots. Planted in good rich soil the will grow on quickly with a rosette up to about 6 inches at best. They are not fussy about soil  acidity or alkalinity though I suppose it might just affect the colour. In late autumn they become dormant and retreat under ground to a resting bud on a rather long narrow root  - a bit like a carrot. These then re-shoot in early spring and through a flowering spike up to about 1 foot high and flower from top down. Seed pods then form (but you must have more than 1 plant since Meconopsis almost invariably need cross pollination). Seed then can be harvested from the rather prickly seed pods in late November or December once the seed pods have slit open, Store dry and cool and resow the following spring. Photo credits. David and Margaret Thorne