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February Resilient Plant

Thursday, February 14, 2019
by Josh Steger | Director of Horticulture

2019 is the year of resiliency in the Garden. This year we are highlighting some of our most resilient plants we have at the Garden.  These plants are hallmarks of adaptability, utility and beauty in the Garden. Check out our first contender: 


Winter Aconite or Buttercup, Eranthis hyemalis

If you’re craving a burst color as the ground begins to thaw, Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is a wonderful naturalizing plant for any garden. This little spring ephemeral – a plant with a fast, brief life cycle – is one of our favorites for late winter and early spring and is a powerhouse of performance.

While not a Wisconsin native, Eranthis provides much-desired late winter/early spring interest. Fast-growing, umbrella-like foliage grows in tight clumps, topping out at 3–4 inches. As the snow begins to melt during spring thaw, their leaves and cheerful yellow blooms pop through snow. A native of Europe, Eranthis flowers also provide an early source of food for pollinators coming out of hibernation. Eranthis grows best in average, well-drained soil, and does well in any condition with the exception of underneath evergreens. Light and warmth from the sun during a spring thaw is what triggers Eranthis to pop and flower. The perpetual shade of an evergreen will limit their growth. As they go dormant in late spring, Eranthis enjoys shadier conditions where their tubers can stay moist.

If Eranthis is happy, it will spread via tuber and seeds. You can find this gem along the English Garden borders at the Allen Centennial Garden.

This plant is on our list of resiliency because it is of the earliest and low maintenance ephemerals that bring a little cheer to the start of the green season.  If you are looking to give Winter Aconite a try in your space, order through mail-order bulb companies such as Brent and Becky’s (Order Here!) or your favorite bulb supplier. Eranthis is fairly easy to grow but may take a few years to really flourish. It is important to soak the dry tubers in water before planting. They pair nicely with Snowdrops (Galanthus), another early spring bloomer.

The Allen Centennial Garden and its programs are funded entirely through private support - it receives no state or tuition dollars. To help support the Garden and continue to make our projects and programs possible, please consider a donation.  

Tags: Garden Display and Design

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Allen Centennial Garden
620 Babcock Drive
Madison WI 53706

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