Growing Wallflowers Erysimum

Wallflowers are one of the best scented garden plants which are often overlooked, perhaps because of their association with cottage gardens. Wallflowers are available in a host of lovely shades of reds, orange, russet,  pinks, apricot, purples many subtle shades and strong colours. The stunning feature of Wallflowers is their amazing scent present throught their long flowering period from spring to early summer.

Wallflowers are easy to grow and need little more than a sunny spot and soil which is well drained or on the drier side. There are both perennial and biennial varieties, and it is the biennial variety which have the best scent, illustrated in the top three images.   The biennial varieties  can be treated as bedding and once flowering has finished put for compost, although sometimes they are good for another year.  The strong red varieties, such as 'Constant Cheer' look great as a contrasting plant combination with lime green Euphorbia.

You can buy Wallflowers, Latin name Erysimum, as bare rooted cuttings in the Autumn which are inexpensive and plant them out to establish roots and growth over the late Autumn and winter ready for flowering in the spring. They can look a bit weedy when first planted out, but they will get established and usually do very well in the spring. Given that Wallflowers are mainly biennial and short lived, it is more economical to buy them as bare rooted plants as compared to the the fully grown container plants which are generally sold later in the year at garden centres. 

If you miss the autumn planting, which I have often done, Wallflowers are available again in the spring as fully grown plants ready for flowering and whilst more expensive, they do make a great fix for colour and scent in containers and borders. Wallflowers are fully hardy. 

Wallflowers are suitable for coastal gardens for advise on plants suitable for gardening by the sea side

Ideas for other spring and summer flowering scented plants.

Different types of Wallflowers

Confusingly Wallflowers are both annual, biennial and evergreen perennials.  Those illustrated above are the biennial/short lived perennial varities which are best for scent.  This means when  selecting Wallflowers for scent pick carefully the biennial varieties which do have strong scent and make a really good spring bedding plant. The good scented Wallflowers is the E. cheiri group.

If you are selecting wallflowers looking for colour and longevity, The image  below left E. Bowles's Mauve is a well performing perennial variety of Wallflower, ideal for the borders and long flowering,  but it is not scented.

They look fabulous with Tulips which if a late flowering type is selected they will bloom together. Many on line retailers and garden centres sell Tulips and Wallflowers which will flower together for a planting scheme. They also look good with forget me nots, another spring biennial.

When selecting Wallflowers  a good starting point is to select those varieties which have the RHS award of garden merit.  E.  Sunset Apricot' and 'Sunset Primrose Sunset Apricot' and 'Sunset Primrose are good and fully hardy. 

Very popular also are 'Constant Cheer'  'Apricot Twist' 'Blood red' and 'Fire King'