Dictionary of Flowers: Pulsatilla Vulgaris
(Pasque Flower)

Beautiful close-up of Pulsatilla Vulgaris (Pasque Flower). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of CathyMcCray and Flickr

Beautiful close-up of Pulsatilla Vulgaris (Pasque Flower). Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of CathyMcCray and Flickr

  • Pulsatilla Vulgaris
  • Common name: pasque flower, pulsatilla
  • Family:  Ranunculaceae
  • Category: Perennial in USDA zones 4-9
  • Height: 8” to 12” 
  • Width: 8” to 12”
  • Sun/part shade
  • Blooms: spring
  • Growth habit: clumping, upright. Used as filler in container combinations
  • Maintenance: easy
  • Soil: average to fertile, well drained. Water regularly if grown in containers. Drought tolerant once established
  • Garden uses: containers, mixed border, rockery
  • Diseases: none
  • Pests: pest free

Closely related to anemones, pulsatilla grows wild in Europe in alkaline soils of grasslands.

It's a herbaceous perennial with soft foliage, silver-green, fuzzy and fern-like. The leaves form a rosette from which flowers bloom on curvy stalks.

The flowers are single, either white, purple-blue or red, with six petals and showy yellow stamens. After they are finished blooming, seedheads provide interest.

Pulsatilla blooms early in spring and it's a good source of nectar for pollinators. It gets it's name from the fact that it blooms around Easter.

Pasque flower goes dormant in midsummer and performs better in cooler zones.

Pulsatilla grows on average to fertile soil that is well drained. It prefers alkaline to neutral soil and it tolerates sandy soils. It's important to provide good drainage to avoid rot, more so in winter.

Improve soil of planting site by adding compost and grit. If grown in containers, mix coarse sand with potting mix and make sure the container drains freely.

It prefers full sun in cooler zones and when growing in warmer zones it's best to provide some shade from afternoon sun. 

Pasque flower forms a deep taproot. Watering regularly during the first year allows the formation of strong roots. After that, pulsatilla is fairly drought resistant.

It resents being moved, so division is not recommended. The seedheads are attractive, fluffy balls. It's a good idea to deadhead early in the season, then allowing seedheads to form to both collect seed and provide garden interest. 

Fertilize pulsatilla in early spring before bloom with either slow release granular fertilizer or by top dressing with compost.

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Pulsatilla can be propagated by seed or root cuttings during winter. Lift plant carefully and cut sections of healthy, thick segments of the root with a sharp knife. Replant parent plant.

Cut root segments into four inch lengths. Place in containers filled with a moist mixture of potting soil and grit or sand. Cover with sand to a depth of half inch. Keep pots outside until there is growth in spring, then transplant to their permanent position in the garden.

To propagate by seed, plant seed in enriched soil in fall. They will germinate in early spring, but won't bloom the first year. The seed can be winter sown in containers.

If sowing indoors, stratify seed in the refrigerator for a couple weeks, then plant in individual pots barely covering seed. Kept at around 70F, it takes seed about a month to germinate.

Transplant to their permanent spot in the garden after hardening off right around the last frost date. Try not to disturb the root too much when transplanting. Plants will bloom the following spring. 




IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Pests or disease does not normally bother Pasque flower. 

Popular varieties:

  • Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Rubra' - dark purplish-red blooms. Six to twelve inches tall
  • Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Alba' - white blooms. Six to twelve inches tall
  • Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Blau Glocke' - deep blue purple flowers, very striking against the yellow stamens. About eight inches tall

IWILLWRITECAPTION. Image used under a Creative Commons licence with the kind permission of NAMEOFFLICKRUSER and Flickr

Full List of Dictionary of Flowers Entries

Annuals For Containers

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