Plant of the Month for January, 2016
Phyteuma scheuchzeri is an unusual, easy to grow rock garden plant, with a bizarre flower. It is a close relative of the bellflower but does not look anything like it. I think the flowers look more like an allium. The flower head consists of a number of flowers all opening at the same time. Each flower is quite spiky in appearance, creating a big spiky ball of rich blue colour.
Phyteuma scheuchzeri in full sun; photo by Robert Pavlis
The rampion is native to the mountains of Europe and is also commonly called Oxford rampion and horned rampion.
It grows easily from seed and forms a nice compact clump. I have it growing in both full sun and part shade and it seems to like both conditions. It will be shorter with more light and less water.
The plant is rated to zone 5, but it has overwintered in a raised trough during 2013 and 2014 – two very cold winters for zone 5. I’d expect it to survive zone 4.
Phyteuma scheuchzeri; photo by Robert Pavlis
Phyteuma scheuchzeri, older plant in part shade; photo by Robert Pavlis
Life Cycle: perennial
Height: 30cm (1ft)
Bloom Time: mid-summer
Natural Range: Europe
Habitat: rocky mountains
Synonyms: Phyteuma ovatum, Phyteuma corniculatum, Rapunculus scheuchzeri
Light: full sun to part shade
Soil: moist to well drained
Water: regular moisture
USDA Hardiness Zone: (4?) 5 – 8
Propagation: seed, division
Seedex availability (ORG&HPS annual Seed Exchange): usually