Wallflower is a little flower with an endearing scent that is a must-have in perennial flower beds for its colors as much as for its unique shape.

Summary of wallflower facts

Name – Erysimum
Family – brassicas
Type – annual or biennial
Height – 8 to 16 inches (20 to 40 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – ordinary, well drained

Flowering – April to October depending on the variety

Planting, sowing wallflower

What you’ve got here is a plant that will actually thrive where usually none of the other plants can grow.

When purchased in small pots, it is a good idea to plant in spring or in fall. Settling it down near a passing place is interesting since it releases a delightful fragrance.

  • Select a very sunny spot.
  • Water over the first weeks that follow the planting.
  • No point in providing fertilizer, wallflower doesn’t need any.

Sowing wallflower

Regarding any wallflower seeds you may want to sow, simply sow in a nursery starting from the month of March and transfer to the ground during the month of May.

Summer wallflower, for its part, is sown in February-March in a sheltered place and transferred to the growing bed in May for it to bloom in summer.

But you can also sow directly in the ground, especially ravenelle wallflower, once any risk of frost is set aside, from May to July.

  • In soil that has been broken down by couple strokes of the spade, broadcast seeds.
  • Water regularly until seeds sprout and then as soon as the soil is dry.
  • Thin to 12 inches (30 cm) when several leaves have appeared on each plant.

Pruning and caring for wallflower

No specific care is required, but, to boost flower-bearing, remove wilted flowers often.

If your wallflower starts spreading too far, simply pull a portion of it out – but don’t do this when seeds are about to fall or you’ll be sowing a trail of wallflowers behind you!

If slugs and/or snails wreck havoc, you’ll have to find a way to make them flee…

All there is to know about wallflower

Very aesthetic and bearing incredible amounts of flowers, this perennial grown as an annual or a biennial is aptly called flower of the wall.

Indeed, it settles right in any old stone wall, where it sows seeds in nooks and crannies year after year.

It also does great, however, in flower beds and garden boxes with its beautiful, short-lived but abundant blooming.

The flower definitely releases a fragrance that is close to that of cloves, quite intriguingly so.

It adapts to the most difficult growing spots, and decorates them in a transcending manner.

Smart tip about wallflower

Cut off flowers that have finished blooming, this will trigger appearance of more flowers.

Diarmuid Gavin: Waiting for wallflowers

Concrete pots would be lined up in rows, 20 deep, 10 wide, and we would race up and down inserting flowers and bulbs into a fresh compost mix. When complete, they’d be loaded on to a lorry and dropped in the centre reservation of O’Connell Street and in other prominent city locations.

We like our parks and cities to be decorated with flowers each season and soon small armies of municipal gardeners across Ireland will be busy planting up parks, public gardens, pots, tubs, barrels and roundabouts with spring bedding. Hundreds of thousands of pansies, bellis perennis, primulas and polyanthus, along with buckets of tulips and daffodil bulbs, will be bedded in for winter before they wake with a flourish and provide our beloved and traditional display of colour early next year.

One of the main ingredients of this spring cocktail is the oft unsung wallflower. As with its namesake at a dance, it does look pretty ordinary at the moment, but come the spring it turns on the charm with flower power and fragrance. And I sense that wallflowers are a plant whose fortunes will soon be revived as gardeners are beginning to re-evaluate its contribution to our plots and consider new ways of using this early flowering floral jewel.

Let’s take a closer look and show this perennial favourite some appreciation.

Wallflowers have been in these islands for over a thousand years. It is believed that seeds of it were carried over from the continent to Britain on stone which was used to build William the Conquerer’s castles during the Norman invasion, and admiring landowners soon brought them to us.

And from this and its name we get the first clue of how best to cultivate it – it grows happily in stone walls, so ideally grow in a free-draining soil and do not feed it. It’s a plant that will thrive on poor soil. Too much nitrogen and it will grow fleshy leaves and topple over in winter storms. It’s a member of the cabbage family and so can be prone to the same problems such as club root and downy mildew. Keep it lean and let it devote its energy to the production of flowers and seeds.

Generally speaking, wallflowers (Erysimum), are short-lived perennials, but practically speaking are treated as biennials. This means that they are grown from seed in the first year and establish roots and leaves; in the second year they flower and when finished flowering are discarded.

There are exceptions to this. Probably the best known Erysimum is Bowles’s Mauve which will last a few years before getting too leggy. It is a quite remarkable plant – in my garden it seems to have had flowers on it permanently for over two years and I’m definitely replacing it when its time is up. E. mutabile can also keep going for a little longer than two years and is curious for its sweet flowers that change in colour from yellow to mauve.

If you have sown seeds in the spring, your plantlets should be ready for planting out now. Take some care to protect them from slugs and snails as the unseasonably warm weather means these garden pests are still hungry. Otherwise you can buy them now as small plugs from the nursery or garden centre. Pinch them out before planting to encourage bushiness.

Traditionally they are planted with late flowering tulips and some lively combinations can be achieved as there is a wide selection of colours available in different hues of orange, red, yellow, purple and white.

Mix Fire King, a traditional warm orange wallflower with orange tulip Prinses Irene or contrast with maroon Tulipa Ronaldo. Erysimum Ivory White and pink Winter Joy will make a relaxing arrangement with Tulipa Shirley which is white with some purple edging, and the double soft peony-like pink blooms of Tulipa Angelique. Sweet Sorbet has a lovely trendy mix of purple and orange flowers on each plant. Vulcan on the other hand keeps to a single colour with its crimson flowers but it has the benefit of a delicious scent, and Blood Red will make an eye-catching display in a container or window box.

Take cuttings of those you like next summer and pop them in seed trays in a free-draining gritty compost and all going well, you’ll have plugs to plant out this time next year.

Irish Independent

Oriental poppies are long-lived and easy to grow perennials.

When Oriental poppies bloom, it’s like having a Mardi Gras parade accidentally turn down your street. Suddenly there’s this awesome loudness, flamboyance, and brilliance, and just before you completely soak it all in, it’s over!

Oriental poppies are one of my favorite garden flowers, because they’re just over the top with “wow” appeal, with blooms upwards of 6” across in absolutely gorgeous shades of pink, red, purple, white, and orange, often with dramatic dark centers. The flowers pop out of a background of cool-looking grayish green foliage.

Oriental poppies are long-lived and easy to grow perennials, but they don’t behave quite like other garden plants. Here’s what you need to know to grow and enjoy Oriental poppies in your garden.

Poppy flowers are striking against the grayish green foliage.

Fast Facts about Oriental Poppies

As long as you know a couple of things that set Oriental poppies apart, you should have no trouble growing them in your garden:

  • Flash in the Pan: Oriental poppies bloom in late May and June. When they finish blooming, not only do the blooms wither, but the plants do too, turning yellow and dying back. This leaves you with some unsightly dead foliage (which you can cut off), along with a hole in your garden design. For this reason, poppies are often planted right behind later-emerging perennials, such as black eyed susans, perennial hibiscus, asters, or perennial baby’s breath. When the poppies are done, there are new plants popping up to take their place.
  • Long Taproot: Oriental poppies also have a long taproot, much like a carrot. For this reason, they can be difficult to transplant, so try to plant them where they can stay a while. And if planting container-grown or bare-root plants, be careful to disturb the roots as little as possible.

There are so many gorgeous varieties of Oriental poppies!

How to Grow Oriental Poppies

Overall, Oriental poppies are very easy to grow once they’re established. Here are some growing tips:

  • Light: Full sun.
  • Soil: Poppies hate to be soggy, so well-draining soil is a must! Heavy clay soils will need to be amended to improve drainage, and highly acid soils should be amended with lime.
  • Size: Poppy plants grow 2’ to 4’ tall, although dwarf varieties are available.
  • Climate: Oriental poppies grow in hardiness zones 3-9, although they will suffer in high heat and humidity.
  • Water: Poppies need regular watering while blooming but are moderately drought tolerant.

Poppy seed heads add interest after blooms fade.

How to Plant Oriental Poppies

  • Container-Grown Plants: Poppies grown in containers are easy to plant by gently settling them in the ground at the same depth they were in the pot. Take care not to disturb the roots when transplanting.
  • Bare-Root Plants: Bare-root poppies should be planted with the top of the tap root about 1” to 3” below the soil surface. Follow all directions that come with your bare-root plant.
  • Seeds: Poppy seeds can be scattered directly on the surface of the soil in spring or early fall, where they will receive the sunlight they need to germinate. Once the seeds sprout in a couple of weeks, thin seedlings to about 6” apart. Seed-grown plants will likely not bloom until their second growing season.

Poppies interplanted with later-blooming coneflowers.

Oriental Poppy Care Tips

  • Conduct a soil test and amend soil with lime, if necessary, to bring close to neutral pH.
  • Apply a balanced organic fertilizer to soil in spring.
  • Oriental poppy flower.

  • Keep Oriental poppy plants evenly watered, but not soggy, during spring and bloom time. Back off on watering after plants go dormant.
  • Cut back foliage after the poppy flower dies, if desired, but leave the plants long enough to enjoy the unique seed pods.
  • In fall, a small mound of new foliage should begin to emerge from the ground. Leave it in place, cut off any dead stems, and apply mulch.
  • Propagate by seeds or root cuttings. Most Oriental poppies are hybrids, so collecting seeds from existing plants probably won’t produce exact replicas of the parent plant. Root cuttings are made by digging up the taproot in fall and cutting off 1” to 2” sections, or separating off baby tubers that have formed. Propagate in fall, but don’t over do it – remember that Oriental poppies don’t like to be disturbed.

Further Information

  • Perennial Flower Garden Basics (article)
  • How to Buy, Plant, and Grow Bare Root Perennials In Your Garden (article)
  • Ten Fall Perennial Flower Garden Favorites (article)

Poppy (Papaver)

Blousy blooms with colourful, almost paper-like, petals are the hallmarks of many true poppies – particularly the perennial Oriental poppy – Papaver orientale. These flowers, swaying in the breeze, are the very essence of the British summer.

Most poppies also produce ornamental ‘pepper pot’ seed heads, which can be cut and used for indoor decorations.

There are several types of poppy, from the annual Papaver rhoeas, called the field poppy, corn poppy or Flanders poppy, and which includes a specific type called Shirley poppies, to those large-flowered, perennial Oriental poppies.The wild corn poppy brings a bright splash of red to fields, but it looks great in gardens too. It is perfect for providing colour in a sunny situation where little else will grow, and for creating cottage gardens and is excellent for attracting bees and other pollinating insects.

Papaver rhoeas is used as a modern-day symbol of hope every autumn and especially on Remembrance Sunday.

Other plants have the name poppy in their name, such as the blue poppy (Meconopsis) and Californian poppy (Escholzia), but true poppies are species and varieties of Papaver.

How to grow poppies


Poppies will grow well in either a sunny or partially shaded position.

Annual and biennial poppies will grow in a wide range of soils, including very poor and even stony ones, where little else grows well. The perennial, Oriental poppies prefer deep, fertile, well-drained soils.

Poppy varieties

  • Papaver rhoeas, the field poppy, is a hardy annual, growing up to 40cm (16in) high and flowering from June into September.
  • Papaver somniferum, the opium poppy, is also a hardy annual, growing to 60cm (2ft) high and flowering throughout summer. Cultivated varieties are safe to grow in the garden as they don’t produce opium!
  • Papaver nudicaule, the Arctic poppy or Icelandic poppy, is a hardy but short-lived perennial, usually grown as a biennial or even an annual. It grows up to 60cm (2ft) high and flowers from late spring to mid-summer. The perennial Oriental poppy, Papaver orientale, makes large, substantial plants up to 90-105cm (3-3.52ft) high. The flowers are up to 15cm (6in) across and produced in late spring and early summer. Lots of named varieties are available with flower colours from white all the way through shades of pinks and plum to deep red.

Sowing poppies

Hardy annuals

The hardy annuals are incredibly easy to grow, as you can sow them directly outside where you want them to flower. Sowing time is usually from late March to mid-May. You can also sow in August and September to give plants that will flower earlier the following year.

Sow the seeds in well-cultivated soil that has been raked to a fine tilth in drills 30cm (12in) apart. Water the soil regularly, especially in dry periods. When large enough to handle, thin out seedlings to 15cm (6in) apart.

Seeds can also be sown indoors in March/April in cell or plug trays filled with seed sowing compost at a temperature of 21-24°C (70-75°F). Lightly cover the seed with more compost and keep moist. Grow on the seedlings in cooler conditions of around 10°C (50°F) and plant outside in late May or early June when the last frosts are over, after hardening off – gradually acclimatising them to outdoor conditions – for 10-14 days.

Icelandic poppy

Sow Icelandic poppy seeds from February to April or August and September on the surface of moist seed sowing compost and cover with a fine layer of vermiculite at a temperature of around 18-21°C (65-70°F). When large enough to handle, transplant the seedlings into 7.5-9cm (3-3.5in) pots or module trays. Grow them on in cool, well-lit conditions and, when well grown, plant outside 30cm (12in) apart after hardening off.

Sowings made in August and September can be overwintered in a cold frame and planted out the following spring. Or you can sow them directly in the soil outside in late spring.

Planting poppies

Container-grown Oriental poppies can be planted at any time of year, but autumn to spring are the best times. Bare-rooted plants are also available from mail order suppliers for planting from late autumn to late winter.

Dig a good sized hole, big enough to easily accommodate the rootball. Add a layer of organic matter – such as compost or well-rotted manure – to the base of the hole and fork it in.

Place the roots in the planting hole and adjust the planting depth so that it is planted at the same depth as it was originally growing and the top of the roots are level with the soil surface.

Mix in more organic matter with the excavated soil and fill in the planting hole. Water in well, apply a granular general feed over the soil around the tree and add a 5-7.5cm (2-3in) deep mulch of well-rotted garden compost or bark chippings around the root area.

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Flower borders and beds, patios, containers, cut flowers, city and courtyard gardens, cottage and informal gardens, wildlife gardens.

How to care for poppies

Annual poppies

Monthly feeds with a liquid plant food during the summer will help increase flowering.

The annual poppies will flower for longer if they are deadheaded after flowering to remove the developing seed heads. Follow this up with a feed with a high potash liquid plant feed.

If the seed heads are left on some plants after flowering, they will self seed for future years.

Perennial poppies

For perennial Oriental poppies, water well during the first year whenever the weather is dry. In subsequent years, watering during prolonged dry periods may be needed to keep plants growing well. Mulching around the plants in late spring will help to conserve soil moisture and keep down weeds.

For the best displays, feed in early March with a general controlled-release feed.

After flowering, cut down the flowering stems and remove any old or damaged foliage to keep the plants looking good and tidy.

Flowering season(s)

Spring, Summer

Foliage season(s)

Spring, Summer


Partial shade, Full sun

Soil type

Clay, Loamy

Soil pH


Soil moisture

Moist but well-drained

Ultimate height

Up to 1.2m (4ft) depending on variety

Ultimate spread

Up to 60cm (2ft)

Time to ultimate height

2-3 years

I received an email requesting more info on how to cut back California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) so that they bloom again. This is what my poppies do through the bloom period and how I handle it.

After poppies have bloomed for a while their stems become very elongated and the leaves and stems turn powdery and grayish. I don’t think this is mildew because it happens even when there is no additional water.

Anyway, at this time there are usually flowers and ripe seed pods. You can tell the seed pods are ripes because they turn brown and grooves form lengthwise along the pod.

One of the grooves will become darker. If you open the pods, the mature seeds will be dark brown while immature seeds are green.

On a warm day when the seeds are rip the pods pop open spewing the seeds around. The spontaneous opening of seed pods is called dehiscence. When they pop open it is described as explosive dehiscence because it doesn’t just gently open, it actually pops propelling the seeds so they cover a larger area. I harvest the seeds when I see the grooves, placing them in a paper bag. Over time the pods pop and are collected in the bag. If you do this, make sure the bag stays dry and check it often for insects (notice the earwig chowing down on my seeds!).

Now back to cutting the plants back. Poppies are actually short-lived perennials. The same plant can live for a few years, though since they reseed so easily it is hard to keep track of who is who. Once they have bloomed, turned gray, and developed mature seed pods, I cut them nearly to the ground. I have a lot of poppies so I do this quickly and carelessly. In fact a weed whip or lawn mower with the blade set high would work.

You can tell this will work because the plant often sends out new leaves near the base of old stems.

I harvest the seed pods and compost the plant.

Here’s a group of poppies that are ready to be cut back. Even though they are still blooming the foliage is gray and seed pods are maturing.

Sometimes I cut them back more harshly than this, but either way works.

Here’s the pile of foliage that I throw into the compost pile after collecting the nearly ripe seed pods.

Below is a plant that was cut back a few weeks ago. The foliage is green but you can see old stems among the new growth.

And finally here is a poppy that is blooming again. Usually they don’t bloom as profusely later in the summer and often the flowers are smaller.

If anyone does it differently or has something to add, please comment.

Best Garden Flowers for Color All Summer

Blooms You Can Bet On

No doubt you’ve heard that a well-designed garden should include plants prized for their striking foliage, as well as some that produce fall color or berries, and others that provide good structure in winter. But lets face it: most of us want flowers. Lots of them. All the time. That’s where the summer flowering plants below come in. They’ll churn out blooms for weeks on end this summer. In most cases, you can harvest armloads to fill vases or give away, and still have plenty left to enjoy in your garden beds long past Labor Day.

Perennial Hibiscus (H. moscheutos)

Photo by Indu Singh

Also known as rose-mallow and swamp hibiscus, this garden standout was bred from wildflowers native to the East and South. Huge red, pink or white flowers can be as much as a foot across on stems that range from 2 to 8 feet high, depending on the variety. Flowers bloom from late spring until frost. Stems die back to the ground each winter.

Requires full sun; regular to abundant water. Grows as a perennial in zones 5-10.

Purple Wave Petunia (Petunia F1 ‘Wave Purple’)

Before 1995, when this hybrid was named an All-America Selection winner, gardeners thought of petunias as upright plants. Purple Wave petunias (and later Wave introductions in pinks and lilac) are more like vines—perfect for growing in hanging pots, along retaining walls or even as a ground cover.

Requires full sun; regular water. Grows as an annual in all zones.

Profusion Zinnias (Z. hybrida)

Grow zinnias if you want to be able to cut armloads of flowers for bouquets and still have a bright band of color alongside a path or a lawn. All zinnias thrive in hot weather, but Profusion zinnias keep on blooming well into fall, whatever the weather. Profusion White, Orange and Cherry, which have daisy-like flowers, each have won multiple garden awards. If you want fluffy pom-poms, look for double Profusion varieties in cherry, gold, white and “fire,” an orange-red.

Requires full sun; regular water. Grows as an annual in all zones.

Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena globosa)

For year-round enjoyment, these clover-like flower heads are hard to beat. The papery flowers last a long time in the garden and in fresh bouquets, and the blooms are easy to dry for use in wintertime arrangements. Depending on the variety, flowers are white, red, pink, lilac or purple. ‘Strawberry Fields,’ with bright red blossoms, and ‘All Around Purple’ are two standouts.

Requires full sun to partial shade; moderate water. Grows as an annual in all zones.

Sea Holly (Eryngium)

Photo by Kurt Stueber

If you want to add contrast to a flowerbed or to fresh or dried flower arrangements, this dramatic spiky plant is a great choice. It resembles thistle, but the flower colors blend in more with the prickly blue-green leaves, which are often streaked with silver. Alpine sea holly (E. alpinum) is a deep steel blue, while E. amethystinum is more silvery blue. Miss Willmott’s Ghost (E. giganteum) produces especially striking conical flowers, each surrounded by a wreath of silvery, spikey bracts.

Requires full sun; moderate to regular water. Grows as a perennial in zones 3-8.

Stella de Oro Daylily (Hermerocallis)

Tough and trouble-free, daylilies produce showy flowers above a mound of sword-shaped leaves. Whether in the garden or in a vase, each blossom lasts just one day; they are daylilies, after all. But each stem holds numerous buds that open on successive days. Low-growing Stella de Oro keeps churning out new stems with a profusion of golden-yellow blossoms for up to five months, far longer than most daylilies.

Requires full sun to light shade; regular water. Grows as a perennial in zones 3-9.

Evergreen Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)

Small clusters of delicate white flowers appear in low-growing clumps in spring, and continue into the fall. The shiny, dark-green leaves stay on all winter, so the plant remains attractive year-round.

Requires full sun to part shade; regular water. Grows as a perennial in zones 5-9.

Brown-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia)

Brilliant yellow or orange flowers with a raised brown polka-dot center stand out in a perennial border. R. hirta varieties bloom from seed the first year and are grown as annuals; in the warmest areas, they’re wintertime bloomers. Most other kinds are perennial and gradually form showy, spreading clumps as hardy as their wildflower ancesters, native to the East. All are good cut flowers as well. One to search out: R. fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm,’ an especially flower-covered variety.

Requires full sun; moderate to regular water. Grows as an annual or perennial, depending on the variety (as noted), in all zones.

Joe Pye Weed (Eupatorium species)

Despite the scary name, this is a lovely wildflower native to our Eastern meadows that draws butterflies and birds. One especially showy variety, E. maculatum ‘Gateway,’ has wine-red stems 5 to 7 feet tall, topped by dusky rose nosegays a foot across. Use as a tall anchor in a perennial bed or as a temporary screen, since stems die back to the ground in winter.

Requires full sun; average to abundant water. Grows as a perennial in zones 4-8.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)

Pink to purple daisy-like flowers about 4 inches across cover this perennial from mid-summer into autumn. The plant is especially hardy and unfussy, and you can divide clumps after several years to get new plants. The flowers draw butterflies and last well as cut flowers. ‘PowWow Wild Berry,’ which has rosy pink flowers, was chosen as an All-America Selections winner for 2010.

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)

With large, easy-to-plant seeds and magnificently showy flowers, sunflowers are perhaps the perfect flower for kids to grow. Classic single-stem kinds such as ‘Mammoth Russian’ and ‘Russian Giant’ grow 10-15 feet tall and produce plate-size flowers with edible seeds. Newer, shorter kinds include ‘Ring of Fire,” which is about 4-5 feet tall and has 5-inch flowers that work in a vase, and ‘Sunspot,’ which grows just 2 feet tall. ‘Indian Blanket’ is a branching kind with numerous smaller flowers suitable for cutting. Sunflower blooms face the sun, so choose a bed where the sun will be behind you.

Requres full sun; regular water. Most grow as annuals in all zones.

Marigolds (Tagetes)

These perky yellow or orange flowers really light up a garden bed. The plant’s distinctive (should we say strong?) odor also keeps pests away. Marigolds are great as cut flowers, too. ‘Moonsong Deep Orange,’ a hybrid that was named an All-America Selection winner for 2010, has frilly, densely packed flowers. But many other marigolds look more like daisies, with just a row or two of petals around a dark center.

Requires full sun; regular water. Grows as an annual in all zones.

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