Pulsatilla vulgaris [pul-sa-TIL-uh, vul-GAIR-iss] is a herbaceous perennial known for its glorious blooms from the buttercup family Ranunculaceae and genus Pulsatilla.
Native to calcareous grasslands in Europe, this plant was previously known as Anemone pulsatilla.
Of the 33 species in the genus Pulsatilla the most well known are:
- Pulsatilla patens – blue-violet flowers
- Pulsatilla vulgaris
- Pulsatilla hirsutissima (the Official State Flower of South Dakota)
Over the years, the plant has earned popularity and a few common names.
Some of these include:
- Pasque Flower
- Commo pasque flower
- European pasqueflower
The word Pasque is an Old French word for Easter.
The name refers to the plant’s bloom time, which is where the name Easter Flower comes from.
But it’s not just beautiful flowers the plant is famous for.
There are several legends associated with it and the flowers are considered to be ‘cloaked in myth’.
In one legend, the plant is believed to have grown in places soaked with Roman or Dane blood.
Despite the tales, the plants are favored among gardening people.
Pasque Flower Plant Care
Size & Growth
The beautiful pasque flower plant grows bright under the sun in meadows, pine forest floors, and calcium-rich soils along sloping surfaces.
When all the growing conditions are right, these plants grow 6” to 12” inches high; making them perfect for planting as a groundcover.
Fruit-bearing versions of the plant grow a little taller at 16” inches.
Established plants have roots 36” inches deep underground.
The stems and rosette-forming leaves appear on upright rhizomes.
The basal leaves are fern-like, light green, and silky, lasting through the growing season.
Flowering and Fragrance
The purple flowers on the plant are beautiful and the reason for its popularity.
The bloom time in North America is early spring and lasts through to late spring (April to May).
The flowers are borne on hairy flower stems as the foliage forms around them.
Each flower is one and a half-inch across with purple sepals and bright golden stamens inside.
The flower color depends on the variety.
For example, Pulsatilla vulgaris ‘Rote Glocke and ‘Rubra produce red flowers while Alba produces white flowers.
The flowers are solitary, open-bell-shaped, and in shades of lilac, violet, and purple.
Once the plant has flowered, the blooms are followed by attractive seed heads.
These silky, plume-like seedheads are equally attractive – quite similar to Clematis plants.
Light & Temperature
These plants are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zone 4 through 8, performing their best in cooler climates.
In these climates, the plants become more tolerant of dry conditions with lower temperatures.
Meadow anemones prefer growing under the full sun but are also tolerant of partial shade on hot and overly sunny days.
The fuzzy seedheads and bright flowers catch the light and look dazzling.
Watering and Feeding
These perennial plants have medium water needs, requiring regular consistent moisture in hotter climates.
Make sure you don’t overwater the plants as it may lead to root rot.
As for feeding, the plants can do without fertilizer.
Organic compost can help but don’t fertilize heavily or it may have a bad impact on the plant’s growth.
These plants are drought tolerant.
Soil & Transplanting
There isn’t a specific soil type recommended for pasqueflowers.
Humus-rich/fertile, alkaline soil with a gritty texture is preferred.
Drainage is one of the most important considerations as you don’t want the roots to be waterlogged.
Transplanting is recommended when you’re moving seedlings to their permanent locations.
Mature plants should be transplanted but don’t really tolerate movement.
The roots are burrowed quite deep and don’t like being disturbed.
If you have to transplant pasque flowers, do so with extreme care.
Make sure you cut away existing open flowers and large buds before moving them under full or partial sun.
Take proper care and the plant may rebloom and produce new growth within the next 4 weeks.
Grooming and Maintenance
Even though the plants are rabbit resistant, deer seem to like it.
You may have to provide some protection if you live in an area where deer roam around, munching on whatever appeals to them.
Otherwise, the plants are low-maintenance and should be left alone for the most part.
Propagating Pasque Flowers
Even though the plants self-seed, collect seeds from the attractive seedheads once they’ve dried.
Sow them in individual containers.
Start them in early summer, letting the seeds germinate for 2 to 3 weeks and move them out when they are long enough to be pricked.
Or propagate the plant with root cuttings and division.
You have to be very careful as pasqueflowers don’t like to be disturbed.
Pasque Flower Pests or Diseases
Besides some susceptibility to slug attacks during the bloom season, the plants are generally pest and disease-free.
If ingested, all parts of the plant are slightly toxic and may cause an upset stomach.
Pasque Flower Plant Uses
Without a doubt, European pasqueflowers are rock garden plants.
They also look incredible in border fronts and along sloping beds, hillsides, and raised flower beds.
They partner well with spring bloomers such as crocus, wildflower tulips, daffodils, alliums, and others.
Use them as cut flowers and make arrangements for your home.
The plant is considered to have medicinal properties but is rarely used to treat various ailments.