Author Topic: Meconopsis simplicifolia subsp. grandiflora  (Read 2055 times)

Peter Kohn

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Meconopsis simplicifolia subsp. grandiflora
« on: December 22, 2016, 02:27:29 PM »
Ian Scott has charged me with looking after this plant. I got the seed rather late so I wasn't able to sow until March 18th, two months later than my other meconopsis. Surprisingly, in a year when most of my Meconopsis Group seeds failed, I did get some germination (on May 4th) and now have four quite healthy plants which are settling back to a small rosette of leaves just now. (I kept back most of the seed so more will be sown in the next few weeks). The problem is, what now ?  My inclination is to overwinter in pots and then to plant up Peter Korn style in a fishbox full of sharp sand on my allotment (north-facing slope and 600 feet up). Has anyway experience of growing this species successfully or alternative advice ? My meconopsis bed in the Sheffield Botanic Garden is immediately next to an area into which huge amounts of grit have been incorporated so very free-draining. Is this a possible site ?
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 02:54:37 PM by poppy girl »

Meconopsis_Matt

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Re: Meconopsis simplicifolia subsp. grandiflora
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2016, 11:50:26 AM »
Sorry Peter

I cannot help with this as I have never grown this species. I have generally struggled with M. simplicifolia. I look forward to seeing what answers you get as I am sure it will help me.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 02:55:07 PM by poppy girl »
Matt Heasman

Allan Jamieson

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Re: Meconopsis simplicifolia subsp. grandiflora
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2017, 10:40:10 AM »
To be honest from my experience the only time of year that my Meconopsis might appreciate better drainage is during winter when they are essentially dormant, it certainly won't do any harm if you have heavy, wet soil conditions to add some grit when initially planting and given that your plants are still in pots I wouldn't even attempt to plant them outside now until about March or April. I can't think why you would want to plant them in a very sandy position as that might well cause your plants to dry out far too quickly during summer, assuming that is we actually get one this year!

In my garden from the moment the Meconopsis start to grow until the late autumn, they are never more happy than when it rains and rains, most of the large flowered perennial Meconopsis do appreciate lots of moisture and plenty of organic matter such as good garden compost or well rotted manure during their growing season. The other thing which can be done to prevent winter losses from too wet soil conditions is to create raised beds, even 5 or 6 inches in height above your normal soil level would make a big difference. I've lost quite a few Meconopsis in the past to winter wet, when my local water table has sat ridiculously high for weeks at a time, effectively drowning the poor plants. The plants which have survived seem better adapted to my particular local conditions and these days most of the Meconopsis which I grow are actually my own hybrids with Huntfield being the only named form that I have at present.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 02:55:32 PM by poppy girl »

Peter Kohn

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Re: Meconopsis simplicifolia subsp. grandiflora
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2017, 01:56:25 PM »
Thank you for your comments, Alan. I have to agree that it is proving hard to grow some of the big blue meconopsis in Sheffield Botanical Gardens apparently because they are getting too dry in summer. I had to work hard to persuade the Curator to let me use the dampest corner of the woodland garden as a new meconopsis bed which so far seems to be a more succesful site. However, I attended a talk by Peter Korn who convinced me of the merits of growing high alpines (as against woodland marginals) in pure sand. Hopefully the crowns would be nice and dry whilst the roots would develop deeper and reach water below. This would be some sort of mirror of conditions in nature where plants are often growing in scree and are watered from below by meltwater. It certainly seems to work for him and he is even growing Lingholm very succesfully this way.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 02:55:58 PM by poppy girl »

Allan Jamieson

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Re: Meconopsis simplicifolia subsp. grandiflora
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2017, 10:09:14 PM »
Interesting idea and to be honest not the first time that I've heard someone suggest putting plants into sandy soil and leaving them to it, thinking here of the man who used to run the Auchgourish Gardens near Aviemore, he worked very hard to scrape a garden out of what was basically glacial silt, just sandy, gritty soil with a tiny layer of soil over it. I can't remember his name but he had large trees and shrubs with various smaller plants including a few Meconopsis I think just planted into this very poor soil, the Meconopsis didn't look too happy though!

I get the concept though but you are not going to easily replicate anything like Himalayan growing conditions in the UK, except I would have thought for wetter areas in the North West of England & Scotland and such like but in a steep mountainous Himalayan gorge even if the plants were seemingly growing in what looked like poor gritty soil, you would have a fairly constant flow of moisture for most of the season either running or seeping down either shoulder of the valley/ gorge.

In my garden adding sharp sand/ grit would certainly help the soil conditions but at the same time I would still be adding plenty of organic matter to keep the plants happy, saying that it might well help (to some extent) to protect the plants against winter damp/ rot if I put some sharp sand directly over the crowns of the plants once they have become fully dormant.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 02:56:20 PM by poppy girl »

Peter Kohn

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Re: Meconopsis simplicifolia subsp. grandiflora
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2017, 09:21:55 AM »
Allan, our allotment is the best we can do in Sheffield. It is six hundred feet up on a north-facing slope and on the site of an eighteenth century drift coal mine so there are places where water seeps out of the bedrock. Hopefully, if I fill an old plastic fishbox with sand it will remain wet below but free-draining above. Six hundred feet isn't 3000 metres but ...
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 02:56:37 PM by poppy girl »

Allan Jamieson

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Re: Meconopsis simplicifolia subsp. grandiflora
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2017, 09:59:50 PM »
Good luck Peter, hope the sand experiment works!

The height of your garden doesn't really matter, Meconopsis might grow at extreme altitudes in their Himalayan homeland but that is a long, long way south of here, even if we had mountains the same height as those in the Himalayas nothing could possibly grow here at the equivalent altitude. I've climbed most of Scotland's highest mountains and very few have much vegetation anywhere near the summit and that is only in and around 4000 feet in height, the climate is just too extreme, particularly places like the Cairngorm plateau which would be tiny in amongst the Himalayas but the Cairngorms were originally as high as the Himalayas but time and glaciers have left them mere stumps of what they used to be.

I kind of view gardening like photography (which is another of my interests), i.e. there are no rules, if something works for you where you are, then that is all that matters, enjoy!
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 02:56:56 PM by poppy girl »

Peter Kohn

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Re: Meconopsis simplicifolia subsp. grandiflora
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2017, 12:06:47 PM »
Thanks Alan. I absolutely agree. I have posted another more general query about high level species but I'll give it a go and see what happens.
Noticed this morning that the evergreen species that are under a plastic sheet with ventilation at the sides (alpine gardener's style) are looking blissfully happy whilst those for which I didn't have room and stayed out on the benches are less pristine. So a winter cover needs to be part of the plan.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2017, 02:57:15 PM by poppy girl »