Saturday, March 21, 2009

Daffodil - February Gold

Several clumps of February Gold burst into bloom yesterday. This used to be our first daffodil of the season, sometimes almost blooming in February (I know it must do that somewhere or it wouldn't have that name) but usually in mid to late March. On cold years it doesn't show its face until early April. We've had several cold night with temperatures in the low 20s (F) but it doesn't seem to be bothering anything, at least so far. We'll be warming up again now, so the spring blooms should continue to delight me in the next week.

Something that does come up and often will bloom in February are the Petasites. This first one is Petasites japonicum 'Rubrum'. These plants all have blooms that come up like green baseballs (about that size and shape) long before the leaves appear. Only severe cold seems to bother them. Once there are a few nice, warm, sunny days, the little florets in the ball open. These on Rubrum are tinged red. The leaves when they open are a deep burgundy red on top and green underneath.
This next one is Petasites japonicum 'Variegatum'. This one has green/cream/white variegated leaves. all of these prefer shade, or at least no direct afternoon sun - morning sun seems to be all right. They won't die, but look just terrible in the direct sun in the afternoon, wilting like they are about to die any minute.

This last is Petasites japonicum 'Giganteum'. This has the largest leaves, often 3 feet across. Kids who come in the garden seem to be especially taken with this one which small children can stand under.

The flowers are all similar, but can definitely be told apart. Petasites japonicum 'Hybridus' has flowers that start out the same, but then elongate into something that looks more the shape of a morel mushroom. I don't seem to have a picture of those, unfortunately. The flowers on it are very pink and seem to set seed better than the others. The seeds have little puffs like a milkweed that allow them to fly in the breeze. We have had all of these cross polinate and have a number of hybrids in the garden with traits of several of these, but which are not totally like any of them. If you want to transplant any of the Petasites, you need to do it very early in the spring, before the leaves are barely unfurled. Later in the spring, once the leaves are out, they seem to have difficulty adjusting. It needs to be a quick transplant in any case because they really hate having their roots out in the air.

1 comment:

keewee said...

The Petasites sure are an unusual looking plant. It is probably too cold here in zone 8-9 to grow them.