Epimedium x warleyense Orange Queen
Spreads slowly over time, a very long-lived and ultra-dependable perennial that even withstands dry shade!
This German introduction has so many merits, it's difficult to know where to begin. The flowers are the most attention-getting, so first to them: single and richly colored in orange, yellow, and red, they arise 5 to 9 on every flowering stem. The stems are 10 to 12 inches long, about the same height as the plant, so when the blooms begin opening in mid-spring, cut back any of last year's foliage that is still hanging about. (You won't want to touch the new leaves, however -- more about that in a minute!) They continue to arise through late spring, lovely for cutting yet irresistible in the garden as well, bobbing on the fresh spring breezes.
As lovely as the blooms are, the foliage rivals them for ornamental appeal. The new spring leaves open pale green with bold red edges (too pretty to be cut to make room for the flowers!), then turn mid-green for summer. In autumn they acquire warm tones again, this time flushes of bronze and deep red. They remain through winter in mild and warm climates, though you will want to trim them the following spring. Each heart-shaped leaf is 2 to 3 inches long and held out gracefully, for a very layered, airy look that keeps its grace and hold even in midsummer heat. Very ornamental!
'Orange Queen' reaches 8 to 10 inches high (out of bloom; the flowers may add another couple inches) and spreads about 12 to 18 inches wide within a few seasons. It's a very slow grower, which is why you may not notice for several years that it has made itself at home in your garden and is naturalizing magnificently. Very long-lived, it is a legacy planting, and one which you will admire more with every successive season. It's hard to explain why; Epimedium in general and 'Orange Queen' in particular have that effect on gardeners!
One reason may be this plant's willingness to establish in the dry shade beneath shrubs and large perennials, land scorned by the less-patient in the plant kingdom. Epimedium likes neutral to acidic soil, so consider sitting it in front of Rhododendron, Camellia, and among small to medium Hosta cultivars. The roots won't fight; they'll coexist, even as Epimedium begins its majestic journey beneath the soil to colonize new areas. Pamper it the first season, as you would any new plants, with moist, enriched, very well-drained soil, then let it go. It thrives in dry conditions, doesn't mind poorly fertile soils, and tolerates drought admirably once established!
'Orange Queen' is a cultivar of E. x warleyense.' This species is itself a hybrid of E. pinnatum ssp. colchicum and E. alpinum, named for Warley Place, the fabulous British gardens created by Miss Willmott, the tireless (and fabulously eccentric) Victorian plantswoman. Any plant that will give you an excuse to tell the story of Miss Willmott's approach to horticulture is worth adding to your garden, but 'Orange Queen' is truly exceptional, introduced by German nurseryman Ernst Pagels and beloved by gardeners far and wide. Do not hesitate to add it to your landscape; order it today. Zones 4-8.
|Zone||4 - 8|
|Bloom Season||Mid Spring - Late Spring|
|Plant Height||8 in - 10 in|
|Additional Characteristics||Bloom First Year, Butterfly Lovers, Easy Care Plants, Fall Foliage Changes, Flower, Free Bloomer, Spring Foliage Changes|
|Bloom Color||Light Red, Multi-Color, Orange, Yellow|
|Light Requirements||Part Shade, Shade|
|Moisture Requirements||Dry, Moist, well-drained|
|Resistance||Cold Hardy, Deer Resistance, Disease Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Heat Tolerant, Humidity Tolerant, Pest Resistant|
|Soil Tolerance||Normal, loamy, Poor, Sandy|
|Uses||Beds, Border, Cut Flowers, Fall Color, Foliage Interest, Ground Cover, Outdoor, Winter Interest|
|Restrictions||Canada, Guam, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands|
The dry, sparse appearance of bareroot perennials can be alarming to the novice gardener, but in reality ordering bare root is often the smarter choice. Foliage and blooms can be seductive, but the health and long-term potential of a plant truly lies in its roots. Bareroot plants have several advantages over plants in containers—bare roots are less likely to be harmed in the shipping process, their timing is easier to control, and they are field-grown for larger, healthier root systems. This why Wayside Gardens has had great success with bare root plants, and you can too!
It is safer to ship plants in bareroot form because there is no risk in harming new growth, and therefore the plant actually has a better chance of making it safely into the customer’s garden.
And thanks to refrigerated storage, the timing of bareroot perennials can be precisely controlled. “(Bareroot perennials) are dormant,” explains JPPA Lead Horticulturist Benjamin Chester, “But as soon as they leave the refrigerated storage they’ll begin breaking dormancy.” And once the plant ‘wakes up’, it is ready to begin the growing season in earnest, which means it will quickly catch up to the level of container plants.
The most important benefit of bareroot perennials is that they can be field grown rather than confined to containers. The bareroot Cherry Cheesecake Hibiscus pictured hereperfectly illustrates the difference between a field-grown perennial and a containerized one. Wayside Gardens used to offer this variety in a quart container, like the Monarda next to it. But the Hibiscus was simply too cramped in that space, so Wayside switched to growing it in the earth and selling it bare root. The result is a thick, fibrous mass of roots that used to fill up several cubic feet of soil and which, even in its bare, pruned form would be too large to fit back into the 1 Quart container. What a difference a little space makes! While small and slow-growing cultivars can start well in containers, large and vigorous cultivars need more room to stretch out and develop a solid root system.