18 August 2012

Exploring Erodium

I'm getting all geeked about the genus Erodium. Previously, I'd never really thought much about them, I'd sort of mentally classified them as being basically like Pelargonium, and assumed they wouldn't survive the winter.

How much I had to learn.

 First I noticed this incredible flower on E. cheilanthifolium and fell a little bit in love.

Then I saw this massive patch of Erodium chrysanthum's gorgeous silver, ferny foliage in one of the rock gardens here at Arrowhead and realized, wait... at least some of these things are hardy!

And with that, a new love affair had begun. I'm still a novice Erodio-phile, so please chime in if you know more about any of these, or know other species that I should be growing!

Firstly, since you just saw the foliage, these are the flowers of E. chrysanthum. Yum. The palest, palest possible yellow. It gives a sprinkling of flowers in the spring, and follows it up with another one now-and-again throughout the summer. Though frankly, with that foliage, who needs flowers? Totally hardy at Arrowhead.
Almost all the erodiums, like this wee little baby E. glandulosum I just planted in the Arrowhead trial garden, have a distinctive growth habit, with a tidy little mass of leaves at the base, and then then flowers dancing gracefully at the end of long stems well above the leaves. I absolutely love the look, especially since the flowers move gracefully with the slightest breeze. It is, however, devilishly hard to photograph. So I resorted to pulling bits off the plants and laying them on the ground.

Here's E. glandulosum (left) and E. cheilanthifolium (right) I love both of them very very much. Chelianthifolium's coloring is a bit more dramatic, but is reportedly only hardy to zone 6, while E. glandulosum is supposed to be hardy all the way to zone 4. I'm really hoping that zone 6 is an underestimate. I've planted some outside, and we'll see if I can prove them to be hardy here in zone 5. Both of these are good bloomers, with a heavy flush in the spring, and periodic flowering throughout the summer.

This is the hot pink trio I am having trouble telling apart. From left to right, E. maniscovii, E. circutarium, and E. carvifolium. Though each species has slightly different flowers and foliage, the over-all effect is the same. Ferny leaves topped with a constant supply of vivid magenta flowers. E. maniscovii and E. carvifolium are both reported as only hardy to zone 6, though the big plants of E. maniscovii in the garden here at Arrowhead tells another at-least-zone-5-hardy story. E. circutarium is supposed to be an annual... which makes me think that what we have as that at Arrowhead must be something else altogether, because out plants are certainly several years old. I appreciate the steady flowering of these species, but I don't love them... a bit coarse and ill-bred. And magenta. Not my favorite color.
So how about a big dose of cuteness? E. chamaedryoides 'Charm' is perhaps the more adorable little plant in the history of the universe. 

Little teeny-tiny baby pink flowers dancing just above a perfect tight little mound of dense green foliage. 
The double form, 'Flora Plena' is nice too, but nice quite as graceful. The plants in these photos are from the production greenhouses at Arrowhead, and you could literally walk in any day since March and see plants looking exactly like that. Hot, dry, cold, wet, nothing seems to phase them, they just keep on blooming.The bad news? They're not quite as hardy as the rest. Not reliable here in zone 5 Michigan, though they'll come through a mild winter or in a nice sheltered, well-drained spot. I think I'm going to try to overwinter some inside on the windowsill this year as well. They are so tiny and easy going it shouldn't be hard, and it is hard to imagine a houseplant that could lift the winter doldrums more than these little nuggets.

So. That's everything I know about my latest plant crush. What do you think? Any favorites you love that I'm missing? 


Mary said...

They are Super cute! Could they survive a humid Virginia summer?

kintgen said...

loved your blog, many of them are rock hardy here in Denver with our dry winters. Several have been hardy and long lived in my other garden at 8,200 feet in Northern Colorado with very long winters under snow(in 2011 the snow finally melted on the 25th of May).
Have you checked out Robin's Nursery in California http://geraniaceae.com/cgi-bin/welcome.py

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