Moisture loving marsh marigolds

March 22nd, 2019 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Caltha palustris 'Flore Pleno'
The marsh marigold is one of our most startling native wild flowers. Huge buttercup flowers sparkle in boggy sites and streamsides like reflections of the sun. They’re doing it now, walk in the right places at this time of year and you’ll see them. There’s only one problem: the flowers are short-lived. They dazzle and die.

But there’s a solution. Instead of growing the single-flowered form, grow this double-flowered variety, ‘Flore Pleno’, that lasts so much longer in flower.

The single flowered wild form is a lovely thing, with the same rounded glossy foliage, but the petals soon drop – partly because they’re more popular with pollinators than the double flowered form.

Both forms appreciate the same conditions. They like sun, or the thin shade of sparsely branched trees like moisture loving birches (think Betula nigra). The soil needs to be consistently damp, in fact the plants will thrive in up to about 15cm of water – pondsides, ditches, and streamsides are all ideal. I’ve even seen the double form grown in a container stood in a deep saucer kept constantly filled with water.

So in the end it turns into a trade-off… Same growing conditions, but a longer flowering season and a more dramatic display from the multi-petalled flowers against the single-flowered form helping pollinators and, as a result, sometimes throwing a seedling or two. It’s your choice.


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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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