Wallflowers of many different colours

Wallflowers are now found in many different colours

Wallflowers in a wall

The wild wallflower is often found growing in walls

The original wallflower (Erysimum cheiri) is a perennial that is often found growing wild in Europe on cliff faces and in the stone walls of old buildings. The flowers are sweetly scented and range from golden yellow to orange. Country people would pick the flowers and carry them as posies to festivals and gatherings.

The wallflower today is a hardy, short-lived perennial with leaves that are linear and entire and grow in dense clusters. Flowers are single, four-petalled and usually yellow-orange, although many other colours have been developed, especially the purple and red. ‘Bowles Mauve’ is a long lasting perennial that flowers for most of the year in our climate.

Purple wallflower

Purple wallflower is a long flowering tough perennial

Siberian wallflower

Strong bright orange-yellow flowers of Siberian wallflower

Grow new plants from seed sown in spring, either where they are to grow or transplanted when the seedlings are small. Alternatively take cuttings of new growth in spring. They like a well-drained, sandy loam soil and an open, sunny position. If your soil is heavy then grow them in tubs or add gravel to the soil as they really don’t like to have wet feet. Some of the taller forms benefit from regular pruning to stop the from becoming straggly. Wallflowers are in the Brassicaceae, the same family as cabbages and caulis, so they are subject to some of the same diseases. If they develop club root or other fungal problems, then remove them and dig compost into the soil and don’t plant anything in the Brassicaceae back into this part of the garden for a few years.

Flowers and seeds have been used medicinally for liver and blood disorders, and sore muscles and sinews. Today wallflowers are grown mainly for their scent, because the attract beneficial insects and because the flowers dry well for potpourri.

Wallflower and bumble bee

Wild growing wallflower with bumble bee