Of all the Edelweiss varieties and those close relatives in the North American Antennaria family,
Leontopodium alpinum is the most beautiful and most sought after in the World.
There are more than 30 species and subspecies of Leontopodium or Lions foot, and most are well adapted
to climatic extremes. Their deep fibrous roots and the felt like covering of their leaves protect them
from drought, the ravages of winds and the potentially damaging sun shine.
The alpine Edelweiß, which in the German language means noble and white, is found generally at altitudes from 1700 meters to 2700 meters. Edelweiss prefers light limestone soils with excellent drainage and southern exposure, where it likes to form herbal mats, growing from 8 cm to 20 cm tall. Edelweiss plants are classified as short lived perennials, and after their flowers have been picked during a number of growing seasons from the same area, are unable to propagate by self seeding and will disappear from their established areas.
Edelweiss plants do not produce snowy white blossoms, as the lyrics to the song "Edelweiss" suggest, and like snow flakes, no two flowers are alike. The showy, hair covered rosettes aren't flower petals but are modified leaves, silvery white in color with a tinge of green. The actual flower centers are golden yellow from pollen dust which is only a fleeting feature.
The Edelweiss is a white perennial flower. Edelweiss plants are an alpine plant and are perennials that are native to the Alps of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and France. Edelweiss flowers are quite rare in the wild and, in many areas, are considered endangered in several countries. These famous flowers, subject of songs and legends, grow naturally in rocky crags in the Alps and are best cultivated in a rock garden that mimics their natural habitat. Grown in partial shade, these plants will develop beautiful woolly flowers which, with a ring of silvery white leaves surrounding them, look rather like large snowflakes. Edelweiss flowers are reasonably easy to propagate from seed and quite hardy if grown in conditions that suit them.
Mixing up a planting medium that combines one part lime, with one part very small pebbles, and the third part sand as a base, then adding some peat moss makes an ideal soil mix for Edelweiss plants to thrive.
If you plan to first grow Edelweiss plants indoors then the process should start about two months before they are due to be transplanted into the garden following the last frost of spring. The seeds should be conditioned by placing the seeds, with some soil, in a black plastic bag, then placing in the fridge for three weeks. Seeds should then be sown out at a temperature of 12 Celsius; they normally take about two to six weeks to germinate. Once established they should be put out 10cm apart (small Leontopodium species) to 30cm apart (large Leontopodium varieties).
Edelweiss like to grow in snow areas and so take a little looking after in areas that do not receive much snow. If this is the case you should surround the Edelweiss plant with leave mulch in the winter to simulate the snow experience. This mulch should be removed at the start of spring. If you live in a snowy area then leave Edelweiss be in the winter, but protect it from heavy rainfalls in any circumstances.
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