Erysimum, more commonly known as wallflowers, are spring to summer flowering shrubs that provide vibrant displays of colour. Many varieties are hardy perennials and have attractive evergreen foliage, adding structure and aesthetic value to the garden even after the flowers have faded.
These easy to grow plants are perfect for adding colour and fragrance to borders and containers for many months throughout the year.
This variety is a bushy, long-flowering, vigorous wallflower which produces long stems of purple flowers from early spring to summer and can continue into autumn. It can reach a height of 0.75m if allowed to do so. Its foliage is made up of narrow leaves in a grey-green colour.
Apricot Delight is slightly smaller than Bowles Mauve, and will typically grow up to 0.50m. It produces delicately scented apricot-orange flowers above woody, grey-green stems between March and August and is a firm favourite for bees and butterflies. In some southern regions it can even produce flowers all year round (if deadheaded)!
Walberton’s Fragrant Sunshine
A shrubby, dwarf selection that grows up to about 0.45m. It produces vivid, bright yellow flowers between March and August and has dark green foliage all year round. Walberton’s Fragrant Sunshine would look fantastic if planted together with Bowles’s Mauve in a border or rock garden.
A compact perennial which will flower from March to July, and produces flowers in a subtle mixture of reds, reddish-purple and pinky-oranges. Red Jep is the smallest of the varieties mentioned here, reaching a height of 0.30m, making it a great choice for a container display.
Type: Erysimum can be annuals, biennials or perennials. The featured range in this article are all evergreen perennials.
Flowering / fruiting time: Spring to Summer.
Sun Requirements: Full sun.
Soil: Prefer a well-drained, moderately fertile soil that is neutral or slightly alkaline.
Hardiness: Hardy in free draining soils. Can be affected by cold winters if the soil is too heavy and wet. If this is the case, add grit and sand when planting to encourage better drainage during the winter months and protect with a cloche.
Eventual size (height x width): 0.5–1m x 0.5–1m.
Erysimum are fairly hardy, fast-growing and very versatile plants, so caring for them is quite easy. They suit being planted in borders, containers and rockeries, as long as the soil is well-drained and either neutral or slightly alkaline. Most prefer full sun, but some varieties can tolerate partial shade.
To plant Erysimum, water the plant in its pot thoroughly and dig a hole in the soil roughly twice the size of the pot. Dig some compost into the base of the hole. Remove the plant from its pot and place in the hole, so that the top of the rootball is about level with the surrounding soil. Next, begin refilling the hole with a mixture of garden soil and compost. Water the area generously and keep the plant well-watered for the first year.
Although wallflowers are known for their copious flowers and long flowering periods, you can encourage more growth for longer by trimming faded and dead flowers. In some southern areas, they can flower all year long! Most varieties prefer full sun, but check each individual variety before planting, as some can do just as well in partial shade.
In winter, use cloche protection to shelter wallflowers for harsh, cold conditions. Otherwise, they are quite hardy and don’t need any further protection.
Complementary Planting Ideas
Nepeta ‘Six Hills Giant’ and Forget-me-nots make great combination plants because their striking purple and blue hues perfectly complement the vibrant wallflower colours.
Tulips will stand tall against the smaller wallflower varieties, giving added height to a border or planter. Tulip gavota, with its striking pale yellow and brownish-red petals will make wallflowers, particularly purple and pink varieties, stand out.
Creeping rosemary will provide a fragrant backdrop of groundcover and add a new texture next to the woody grey-green and dark green wallflower foliage.
Wallflowers are a member of the Brassicaceae botanical family, commonly known as the cabbage family.