Pasques to ponder
Alpine pasque flower (Pulsatilla alpina)
The white flowers of this variety are cup-shaped. It reaches 15 to 30 centimetres in height. Zone 5 to 7.
Blooming in late spring, it grows to 20 centimetres tall. The stems are densely clothed in long, silver hairs, bright green leaves and violet-purple to lavender-blue flowers. Zone 5 to 7.
Eastern pasque flower (P. patens)
This species (shown at left), known as prairie crocus, is the floral emblem of Manitoba and South Dakota and grows to a height of 15 centimetres. It has blue-purple or white flowers, with rounded, heart-shaped, hairy, palmate leaves. Zone 4 to 7.
Its light green leaves are hairy and pinnate (feather-like). Pendent buds open to erect, bell-shaped, pale purple and white flowers. It reaches 10 centimetres high. Zone 4 to 7.
Pasque flower (P. vulgaris)
Native to Europe, it’s often planted on graves, likely because of its association with Easter and resurrection. Flowers usually grow in shades of blue or purple, though the cultivar ‘Alba’ has white flowers and ‘Rubra’ has bright burgundy-red flowers; ‘Papageno’ is a group with mixed colours and semi-double flowers. Pasque flower reaches a height of 10 to 38 centimetres. Zone 5 to 7.
- The pasque flower grows well in full sun or partial shade in raised beds, on hillsides, in rock gardens or in sunny borders. It’s happiest in fertile, slightly dry soil, supplemented with peat moss or compost. Soil should be well drained; waterlogged soil at any time of year will kill it.
- Sow fresh seeds (available from growers specializing in native plants and seeds) outdoors in late fall. Plant 10 centimetres deep and 30 to 40 centimetres apart. Plants may not bloom until the second year.
- To propagate, take root cuttings every three to five years in early spring. Dig to expose a root—be careful to minimize damage—then remove and replant it.