Saturday, September 20, 2008

Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon'

My absolute favorit. If I could only have one perennial, it would be this, I think. I saw it for the first time at Beth Chatto, and I immediately fell in love with it. To protect the one I bought, I purchased a small backpack in London and I took it on the plane in that, together with a couple of more plants.

Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon'It had survived that journey without any problem. However, the next spring, when it did not show any sign of life several weeks after the Persicaria amplexicaulis sprouted up, I thought it become frozen during the winter, and I threw it out. I was convinced that such a Japanese wonder must be frost-tender. But no, it belongs to Z5, it is frost-resistant down to -29ºC. And, in contrast to some of its infamous relatives, it is not invasive. (Some other members of its family, like Persicaria amplexicaulis, Persicaria polymorpha and Persicaria virginiana 'Painter's Palette' are not either – but the overall sold Persicaria bistorta runs like the Orient Express, and its blooming period is also short.)

Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon'A professional-looking American review wrote that it also grows on clay. At us it is effectively on clay, and it apparently feels well. You have to water it of course, but it does not require as much water as, for example, the Ligularia. At us it is planted in shade. Where it gets more sun, its leaves become more red. It grows 1-1.5 meters high and 1.5-2 meters large. At the end it blooms small white flowers (on the above picture you can see one or two), but it is usually planted for its beautiful leaves. I also regularly put them in bouquets. It is perfect in every aspect. You only have to take care not to throw it out in the springtime by mistake.

2 comments:

James Golden said...

Someone gave me a plant of Persicaria microcephala 'Red Dragon' last fall. I put it in a temporary bed until I decide where its permanent home will be. It has grown to over three feet wide. The leaf colors are beautiful now, especially with the veil of small white flowers.

Hortus Carmeli said...

I hope you will have success with it. At us it grows really well on clay.