Erysimum (Wallflower)


One of the most popular early flowering biennials grown in the UK. It can be seen putting on a colourful show in municipal bedding schemes and public parks all over the country, during spring time.

Family: Brassicaceae or Cruciferae (cabbage/mustard)
Botanical Name: Erysimum (syn. Cheiranthus)
Common Names: Wallflower

Foliage: Evergreen, narrow, dark grey-green leaves.

Flowers: Dense spikes of bright fragrant blooms, in shades of white, pink, yellow, orange, purple and red.

Flowering Period: Late spring to early summer.

Soil: Well-drained fertile soil (sand, loam, chalk), alkaline to neutral pH.

Conditions: Best in full sun.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Hardy biennial or short lived evergreen perennial.

Origin: Europe.

Hardiness: Hardy through most of the UK (down to -10).

Planting and Growing Erysimum

These late-spring, free flowering gems, provide a first class display in beds, borders and containers. Best grown in a south, east or west-facing aspect, in a sheltered location. Plant 1ft apart and protect young plants from cold winds.

Wallflowers are actually perennials but because they can deteriorate rapidly (becoming woody over time), they are traditionally grown as biennials; by sowing seed in summer for a spring display. Several more robust modern hybrids (such as 'Bowles's Mauve') are now available, which will provide a good show for many years.

Taking Care of Erysimum

Pinch out the growing tips when the plants are about 6in (15cm) tall to stimulate a more bushy shape.


Trim perennials lightly after flowering. Remove biennial plants once the flowers have faded.

Pests and Diseases

Susceptible to slugs, snails and flea beetles. May be affected by downy mildew, club root or leaf blight.

Propagating Erysimum

Biennials are very easy to grow from seed, sown in late spring or early summer. However, you will need plenty of space in a nursery bed to grow-them-on ready for planting out in the autumn. Take semi-hardwood cuttings of perennials in spring or summer.

These popular spring plants used to be widely available in the autumn from market stalls and garden centres, as bunches of bare rooted plants. These days they are mostly sold as plug plants or in bedding trays in the spring. However, traditional bare rooted bunches can still be purchased online from several major stockists, such as Mr. Fothergill's.

Popular Varieties of Erysimum Grown in the UK

There are numerous varieties available from tall (2ft) plants to shorter dwarf (9in) forms, in a wide range of colours.

'Blood Red' is a tall variety with deep red flowers. Height to 2ft (60cm).

'Cloth of Gold' has golden yellow flowers. Height to 2ft (60cm).

'Rose Queen' lovely rose pink blooms. Height to 2ft (60cm).

'Fair Lady' series is a shorter variety in a mix of colours. Height to 18in (45cm).

'Persian Carpet' has a lovely pastel mix of colours. Height to 15in (38cm).

'Primrose Monarch' has rich yellow flowers. Height to 15in (38cm).

'Ivory White' has cream-white flowers. Height to 15in (38cm).

'Tom Thumb' is one of the best dwarf mixes. Height to 9in (23cm).