Native to the mountains of Central Asia and the Swiss Alps, edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) are herbaceous, short-lived perennials that grow 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 inches) tall and 15 cm (6 inches) wide. The low-maintenance, easy-care plants grow in containers, rock gardens and flower beds and bloom from early spring to midsummer. Each plant produces lance-shaped and woolly foliage and white stellar-shaped blooms that resemble snowflakes. Include the attractive flowers in your garden design so they liven up the space for two to five years.
Locate a well-drained soil with pH between 6.0 and 7.5 and exposure to full sun or partial shade. Amend compacted soils with 1 part lime, 1 part peat moss and 2 parts sand before planting. Work the amendments 15 to 20 cm (6 to 8 inches) deep in the soil. Plant multiple plants 10 to 30 cm (4 to 12 inches) apart.
Irrigate the soil around the plant once every week or 10 days, or when the top 2.5 to 5 cm (1 to 2 inches) of the soil feel dry. Avoid over-watering the soil or creating pools of water around the base of the plant.
Spread organic mulch over the plant during the winter if your area does not receive snow. In the natural environment, edelweiss thrives when covered with snow during the winter. Remove the mulch in early spring, when there is not more frost on the ground. However, skip this step if it snows during the winter in your areas.
Make a shelter around the edelweiss plant to protect it from summer or winter rainfall. Install stakes around the planting site and extend waterproof fabric or a tarpaulin around their tops to protect the plants form damage. Remove the stakes and tarpaulin once the rainy season is over.
Divide edelweiss every two years, preferably in spring to prevent overcrowding and spread the plant in different parts of your garden. Cut back each plant down to half its size a few days before dividing it. Also wet the days two days before so it is workable. Use sharp, sterile scissors to cut each crown into smaller sections, each including healthy buds and roots. Plant two to three divisions in the original planting site and the others in different parts of your garden.
- Grow young edelweiss plants in your rock garden to enhance its appeal. Nestle each plant between two closely placed rocks, in soil composed of compost, limestone and coarse grit. Water the plants carefully to prevent flooding or washing them out.
- The Royal Horticultural Society classifies edelweiss as hardy. It grows well in all regions of the UK.
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