Linaria purpurea ‘Wensley Purple’, is so tough and easy that gardening snobs may ignore it.
But for sheer flower power, hardiness, and low maintenance – it can’t be beaten.
And it gives such a pretty haze, even in the most contemporary and sophisticated designs.
Haze of tiny violet-blue snapdragons
Linaria purpurea ‘Wensley Purple’ makes many slender spires of tiny violet-blue snapdragon-like flowers.
It is a tall and upright plant – so it is all up, and little out.
Small, narrow blue-grey leaves complete the soft hazy colour and airy look
(Scroll down to “Growing” section for plant details, how / where to grow)
Masses of flowers in a small space
Each plant has many stems, and each stem bears a myriad of the tiny purple snapdragons.
So the whole effect is tall, soft and hazy, but without taking up much ground space.
Making Linaria purpurea excellent value for gardeners with little space, little water, tough conditions or little time.
Purple Toadflax begins to bloom in late spring, and then there is no stopping them over summer.
You can keep them blooming into autumn, and with even more enthusiasm, if you give them a chop back by about 1/3 in late summer. This promotes a whole new flock of the tiny snapdragons.
Linaria can manage on a sniff of the watering can – they have a low water need.
So they are resistant to heat and dry, and can tolerate periods of drought, as well as hard frosts.
They are very un-fussy about soil, and do not need lots of fertilizer, work or attention.
Likewise they will grow in anything from Full Sun to quite a lot of Shade, and not even seem to notice.
Excellent cut flowers
Despite their dainty and juicy look, Linaria purpurea stems make excellent cut flowers, lasting well in the vase.
And there are SO many stems on each plant – you can cut armloads for vases, and the plant will just thank you and make some more.
SEED SOWING ADVICE: QUICK & EASY
Sow seed in punnets indoors at any time / or scatter in garden in spring or autumn.
INDOORS: Sow on surface of good quality seed raising mix. Press gently into surface of mix. Cover seeds only thinly with fine sieved mix.
Keep punnet moist in a warm, well-lit place, or on a heat bed covered with a clear plastic cover.
Temperatures of 18-20°C approx. are optimum for rapid germination.
Seeds germinate in 5-21 days approx.
PLANT DIRECTLY INTO THE GARDEN: Scatter seeds in a weeded and prepared spot.
This hardy, clump forming perennial suits a wide range of sites. Growing between 60 to 90cm tall, with a spread of around 30cm, they bloom from December and continue all Summer. They are long-lived and quite drought resistant.
HOW TO GROW: Linarea purpurea Perennial Toadflax
– Height with flowers: Spires of purple mini snapdragon flowers to 75-90cm. approx..
– Width: An upright, slender, tall plant to a diameter of approx. 45cm.
– Position: Linaria purpurea is very adaptable and easy going. They seem to grow and flower happily in anything from open Full Sun, to woodland conditions with Partial Shade and Dappled Light. I even have some in near Full Shade conditions, and they soldier on. They will try hard in Dry Shade.
They are also able to tolerate summer humidity, and so can be recommended for gardeners in sub-tropical areas like Sydney.
Tough & easy
– Water-wise: Linaria can manage on a sniff of the watering can – they have a low water need.
So they are resistant to heat and dry, and can tolerate periods of drought.
– Soil: Right at home in dry, well-drained soil, and prefers not to be richly fed. So it is happy in a range of soils from sandy, gravel, and stoney soils, to average garden loam. However it may struggle in heavy clay.
– Growth: Evergreen perennial. However Linaria purpurea is such a prolific and long bloomer, it sees to exhaut itself in 3-4 years. But fear not, it also sets seed each year which germinate easily in the garden (no special sowing required). Soyou will always have a new crop coming along. If they volunteer in the wrong place – they are easy to weed out.
– Frost: Linaria purpurea are very frost hardy and can withstand even hard frost to at least -20C,
Very low maintenance
– Care: Linaria purpurea is a very low maintenance plant, and it is hard to find any work to do. If you need to be busy, then a chop back by about 1/3 at the end of summer will promote more autumn blooms. The only other work is to chop off the parent plant when it finally flowers itself to death after a few years, and select or weed out the volunteer babies.
It is largely untroubled by any pests or diseases.
– Fragrance: Sadly none
– Beneficial for wildlife: The flowers of Linaria purpurea may be small, but they are rich in pollen and nectar, and there are so many of them for so long. This is all heaven for bees, moths, butterflies and many other useful pollinators.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Whilst they would probably eat Linaria purpurea if they were desperate, it sems to be low on their menu selection.
– Origin: Linaria purpurea hails originally from southern Italy, but you can see it blooming so attractively all over Italy and Greece, from the heat of Crete to the Italian Alps. So perfect evidence of just how hardy and adaptable it is.