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Plant of the Month for June, 2016
Erinus alpinus has won the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit for being an outstanding plant to add to your rock garden or alpine trough, or let it naturalize in the tiny cracks of a brick wall. This alpine plant is a tiny thing that produces lots of flowers.
The pictures in this blog show several small seedlings in their second year. You can clearly see two colour forms of this plant and it is also available in pink. It is known by several common names including fairy foxglove, starflower, alpine balsam and liver balsam.
It is reported to be short lived but under ideal conditions it will live for 5 years. My oldest clumps are now 3 years old. It self-seeds readily and cuttings are easy to root. It is worth a bit of extra effort to maintain this plant in the garden.
In hot climates it will appreciate some shade, but in zone 5 it grows well in full sun. For size comparison, the rock mulch under the plant is ¼” rock.
Life Cycle: perennial– short lived
Height: 4cm (2in) for plant
Bloom Time: spring and early summer
Natural Range: North Africa and Europe. Naturalized in the UK.
Habitat: rocky alpine regions
Light: full sun to part shade
Soil: well drained, scree
Water: prefers some regular moisture
USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 - 7
Propagation: seed, cuttings
Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): frequently