At this time of year, any blooming plant is a welcome sight. One adorable, reliable plant that comes back year after year is the European pasqueflower (Pulsatilla vulgaris). It’s gorgeous fuzzy purple flowers and hardy nature make it a perfect addition to a Colorado landscape. If you’re searching beyond traditional daffodils and tulips for spring color, the pasque flower may be for you.
Yesterday, I visited a rock garden project I worked on in northwest Colorado Springs. Here were the European pasqueflowers blooming like crazy.
I love their deep purple flowers. It is native to dry meadows of continental Europe and the British Isles, but seems well adapted to Colorado landscapes. In addition, they are quite long-lived.
One of the most attractive things about pasque flower is its seedhead. Once the blooms fade away, it develops a cute fluffy, silky puff ball that is just as attractive as the flowers. The seeds eventually blow away.
Keep in mind that pasque flower is a small plant. It only grows to about 4 to 6 inches tall. So, be sure to plant it in a spot where you’ll be able to see it well, like close to a pathway or in a rock garden. It looks great with snow crocus, which bloom a little earlier, and giant crocus, which bloom about the same time. European pasque flowers are pretty easy to find at local plant nurseries.
There is a pasque flower native to the Rocky Mountains called Pulsatilla patens. It, too, is a gorgeous little plant. It’s flowers are much lighter blue, and the leaves are much less noticeable. It blooms later than European pasque flower. I usually see them in June in ponderosa pine forests around 8,000 feet.
If you can find the native pasque flower for sale in a nursery, it’s definitely worth trying to grow. The ones I’ve planted have not been quite as reliable as the European pasque flower, but would offer more ecological benefits to our native pollinators.
So, give yourself a non-traditional St. Patty’s Day treat- a pasque flower!