Soldanellas - Hardy Perennial
Author: John Wood
Soldanellas - Soldanellas.
Nat. Ord. Primulaceæ.
Diminutive herbaceous alpine perennials. This genus is small in number of
known species as in size of specimens. They are found in very high altitudes
in the Tyrol, Switzerland, and Germany; but they are easily managed even in our foggy
climate, as is shown by the fact of the various species being grown in all collections of alpines; and, indeed, no collection can be said to be complete
without such gems—they are great favourites, as they well deserve to be.
They flower in early spring, some with one, and others more than one flower on
The flowers are very small, broadly bell-shaped, and of a feathery appearance,
from the fact of their petals being finely divided. The foliage is also small, nearly round, of good substance, and in all the following species very bright
green; the leaf stalks are long and wiry, and form neat and handsome little tufts, independent of the flowers, which, I may add, do not last more than
five or six days.
S. alpina, smaller in all its parts, but otherwise much resembling S. montana—has
leaves the size of a shilling piece, flowers bright blue, mostly two on a stem.
S. Clusii, from Germany, is smaller than S. alpina; in other respects similar,
with the exception of flowers, which are purple.
S. minima (smallest). Very tiny in all its parts, many of its little thick
leaves being only ¼in. across; flowers purple, single on the stem, which
is only ½in. to 1in. long.
S. montana (illustrated) is the largest species of all—leaves the size
of a half-crown piece, flowers bright blue, four or five on a stem, 5in. high.
It has other distinctions, of a minute character, from the smaller species, but
by difference of size alone it may be readily identified.
All the Soldanellas love a vegetable soil, as peat or leaf mould, to which,
when under cultivation, a liberal quantity of sand should be added. If grown
in pots, they make lovely specimens, and should be plunged in sand and kept moist;
but I find my specimens to grow much more vigorously when planted out, as they
are at the base of a small rockery, rather below the level of the neighbouring
walk, which forms a miniature watershed for the supply of moisture. I also fancy
the liverwort, which surrounds them, rather helps them than otherwise. Certain
I am, however, that moisture is the great desideratum in the culture of this
genus. My difficulty with the planted-out specimens is to keep them from being
grazed off by the slugs; a dash of silver sand every day or two has sometimes
proved of use. When the Soldanellas once get into proper quarters they make rapid
growth; I have divided them most successfully in April and May.
Flowering period, March to May.
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