Dictionary of Flowers: Erysimum (English Wallflower)
Stunning view of Erysimum (English Wallflower) in front of a London church. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Laura Nolte and Flickr
- Common name: wallflower
- Family: Brassicaceae
- Category: perennial in USDA zones 5-8
- Height: up to 30"
- Width: 24"
- Sun/part shade
- Blooms: mid spring to early summer
- Attracts: bees, butterflies and birds
- Growth habit: clump forming, upright. Used as filler in container combinations
- Maintenance: easy
- Soil: average, alkaline, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers. Drought tolerant
- Garden uses: containers, mixed border, cutting garden, wildflower garden, rockery
- Diseases: root rot, mildew, mosaic virus
- Pests: slugs and snails
Short lived perennial, often times used as a biennial or annual, wallflower is native to several temperate zones of the world. The species most used for garden purposes are derived from cheiranthus cheiri, from Southern Europe.
Small flowers appear early in the gardening season. They grow along stiff stems. Flowers are scented. Flower colors range from pale yellow to oranges and bronze, mauve and purple.
This plant gets its name from the fact that they grow well on mortar on rock walls.
Erysimum prefers average to poor soils, with an alkaline pH with excellent drainage. Water when soil feels dry, do not overwater. They don't require much fertilizer.
An application of all-purpose fertilizer in early spring is sufficient. If planting bedding plants, work some compost in the soil before setting them in their permanent location.
Wallflowers like full sun, but can handle part sun in hotter zones.
Deadhead for a possible second bloom and to prevent self-seeding if not desired. Pinch tips before they start blooming to keep the plant bushy.
Wallflower is often treated as a biennial or annual, so they are available for purchase as bedding plants or starts in nurseries.
Close up of English Wallflower cluster. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Jesse Nandra and Flickr
They are very easy to grow from seed. They can be sown outdoors in fall or early spring, or wintersown.
If sown indoors, place seed in moist starting mix barely covering it and keep it at around 65F. Seed should germinate in two to three weeks. Water from below and provide good air circulation.
Harden off and plant in their permanent position outdoors around or even a few days before the chance of last frost.
Short-lived beauty of Erysimum. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of David Wright and Flickr
Poor drainage or heavy soil causes diseases affecting wallflower such as root rot and mildew. They need to be planted in free draining soil.
If affected by mosaic virus, dig out the plant and discard. Slugs and snails can be a problem. Bait as needed. Wallflower is deer resistant.
- Erysimum marshallii 'Siberian Wallflower' - up to two feet, orange flowers with strong scent. It can handle part sun
- Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' - one to two feet tall, mauve flowers on grey-green foliage. Scented, prolific bloomer, upright habit
- Erysimum allionii 'Constant Cheer' - slightly over a foot, spicy scent. Blooms for a long period. Flowers range from orange to purple
- Erysimum hybrid 'Sunset Mix' - strong scent, colors range from light yellow to orange and rust or mauve. One foot tall
- Erysimum cheiri 'Blood Red' - slightly over a foot, dark red flowers
Apricot Delight variety. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of Alice Rosen and Flickr
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Perennials For Containers
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