Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla vulgaris) is an ornamental, herbaceous, perennial flower that comes from the Ranunculaceae plant family. Commonly known as the pasque flower, pulsatilla also goes by the common names, mayflower, blue tulip, Easter flower, lion’s beard, rock lily and cat’s eyes. Pulsatilla thrives in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. While this easy-to-grow flower makes an aesthetic addition to your garden, there are some precautions to take when planting pulsatilla.
Pulsatilla is a purple, cup-shaped flower with five petals and fluffy, bright yellow center. However, pulsatilla flowers may also be pale violet, blue or reddish purple in color. Standing on thick stems, approximately 12 inches in height with an equal width, the leaves of the pulsatilla plant are low-growing with a clumping growth habit. The leaves have a fern-like texture and are gray-green in color. Pulsatilla blooms during the months of April and May. As the flowers begin to die, the foliage becomes more prominent, and showy, finely textured seed plumes develop. Pulsatilla makes an excellent cut flower, it also complements cottage or country-style gardens and rock gardens. Plant pulsatilla as an accent, mass-planting, border or container plant.
Sun, Soil and Water Needs
When planting Pulsatilla, find an area of your garden that receives full sun in morning and partial shade during the heat of the day. Pulsatilla is adaptable to an acidic, neutral or alkaline soil pH; however, make sure that your soil is well-draining. A sand or loam mixture is best. This flower is capable of growing in soils of average fertility, but rich hummus soil produces the best results. Pulsatilla may be difficult to establish initially. Make sure to provide your plant plenty of water during the first growing season. Establish a regular watering schedule of one to two times per week, especially during drought or hot weather. Plenty of water ensures that your plant develops a strong, healthy root system.
Pulsatilla requires little maintenance. It does not require pruning. To encourage further flowering during the spring, remove any dead or wilting blossoms. At the end of the growing season, cut the pulsatilla plant back to the top of the soil to encourage strong, healthy growth the following year. Pulsatilla does not typically struggle with pests or diseases. This flower is also deer-resistant. However, make sure that your garden and landscape are free of slugs to avoid damaged or eaten flowers. When planting pulsatilla in your garden, find a permanent space or planter because this plant does not respond well to transplanting.
While pulsatilla is a showy and aesthetically pleasing flower, gardeners should consider all parts of the plant toxic. Always wear gloves when planting, deadheading or handling pulsatilla. Do not let the foliage or flower touch your bare skin. Always wash your hands after handling pulsatilla, even if you are wearing gloves, as an extra precaution. Also, be careful when planting pulsatilla if you have small children or pets. While ingesting the pulsatilla plant is not fatal, it does cause stomach problems such as nausea, vomiting or diarrhea.