Made famous in the 1959 musical ‘The Sound of Music’, the iconic mountain-dwelling Edelweiss is loved for its rugged beauty and as a symbol of alpine purity.
With the help of new breeding, and with care and understanding of its preferred conditions, Edelweiss can be grown successfully in the home garden and can thrive where other plants will struggle.
Originating from the mountainous regions of Asia, Leontopodiums (Edelweiss) made the move to Europe around 100,000 years ago. Due to their hairy flower bracts and silver-grey leaves, these high-altitude plants are perfectly adapted to damaging UV rays and extremes of temperature. As a mountain plant, they are particularly hardy to frost and cold conditions.
Edelweiss thrives best in poor, stony soil, akin to the alpine meadows of the Austrian Alps. But with careful selection of the right spot, it can grow well in the home garden. The key is to not over-feed, as excess fertiliser can be fatal. Additionally, a sunny, well drained position is needed.
Edelweiss will love a rockery or dry stony bank in full sun. While they prefer not to completely dry out in the summer as young plants, they are better to be watered very sparingly than over-watered. The addition of pumice or lawn grade sand to lighten the soil, helps avoid waterlogged roots.
Pots offer a great opportunity to grow Edelwiess if your garden soil isn’t suitable. Porous pots are ideal. Pay particular attention to drainage with a layer of pumice or gravel at the bottom and make sure there is ample drainage through the bottom of the pot. Place your pot in sun and do not over-water.
Edelweiss ‘Alpine Sensation’ is a new variety arriving in garden stores this autumn. It is bred to grow larger (up to 40cm tall) and is better adapted to lower altitudes. Flower bracts are snowy white and long lasting from September to April.
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Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) grows naturally in the alpine regions of Asia, North America and Europe
Edelweiss 'Alpine Sensation' enjoys the good drainage of growing in pots