Saturday, June 28, 2014

Schizanthus

Schizanthus blooming in the potager at Heronswood
    
     Another one of the more successful annuals we are growing in the potager at Heronswood is Schizanthus.   This annual is native to Chile, and is a member of the solanaceae or nightshade family.  I have previously grown these in my garden on Bainbridge, and they had done well and bloomed for a very long time.  After reading about them on the internet, I conclude that they are particularly good in our climate, since they apparently don't like too much heat, and they don't require full sun to do well. 
     The one in the picture above is one we grew from a seed strain called 'Angel Wings',  which we obtained from Outsidepride.  This is, according to Wikipedia, a cross between S. pinnatus, and S. grahamii, called Schizanthus x. wisetonensis.  Unfortunately, it is a mixed color seed strain, and we got many plants with a very pale pink or almost white flower.  As I explained yesterday, I do not like to use those pale colors.  They just do not fit in with our color scheme in the potager.  What I would like is a seed strain with the color you see in the picture.  I searched the internet in vain, though, to find such a strain.  We may have to create our own at Heronswood.  We could call it the Heronswood strain of Schizanthus!
     We also purchased some plants of Schizanthus grahamii from Annies Annuals for the poatager.  If you click on the Annie's link you will see what that plant looks like.  Although the pictures of it are very attractive, I do not think it is as good a garden plant as those of the Angel Wings Strain (provided you have a plant in the right color) because the flowers are more sparse than those on the Angel Wings plants, and because it seems to have a shorter bloom time.  I do like S. grahamii, though, and I intend to get seed of it for next year, despite these differences. 
     In researching the question of whether there was a solid magenta color seed strain of Schizanthus, I came across pictures of Schizanthus litoralis here.  These pictures showed this species, which is a very attractive purplish pink color, covering a hillside in Chile.  So I have resolved to get seed of this species for next year.  I think I might be able to get seed from Chileflora.
     There are also a number of dwarf strains of Schizanthus on the market and those are usually what you find at most retail nurseries.  Those are fine for containers and baskets, but do not work so well in a situation such as the potager, where plants have to be taller than the hedges surrounding each bed.  Some of those dwarf strains come in straight colors instead of mixed color strains.  There are also some other seed strains, as evidenced by the Schizanthus offered in the Chiltern catalog.  I think we may have to try some of those seed strains next year. 

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