This low-growing tuberous aconite, produces a spectacular display of bright yellow flowers from late winter into early spring. One of the earliest and brightest of our spring flowering plants.
Family: Ranunculaceae (buttercup)
Botanical Name: Eranthis (Syn. Aconitum hyemale)
Common Names: winter aconite, winter hellebore, winter wolf's bane
Foliage: Deeply lobed green leaves. Deciduous (quickly dies back after flowering).
Flowers: Five petal, bright yellow, cup-shaped flowers, with a collar of green leafy bracts.
Flowering Period: Late winter to early spring.
Soil: Moist but well-drained humus-rich soil (chalk, light clay, sand or loam). Performs best in alkaline soils.
Conditions: Full sun or very light shade. They are happy in any aspect, in either an exposed or sheltered position.
Habit: Spreading, low growing.
Type: Tuberous perennial.
Origin: Western Europe
Hardiness: Fully hardy in all of the UK (down to -20°C).
Toxicity: Ingestion can cause stomach upsets.
Plant the tubers around 1in (2.5cm) deep, in groups, in late Summer or early Autumn. Any reasonable well drained garden soil will do so long as it is never allowed to fully dry out. Enrich the soil with a little humus or garden compost at planting time.
Ideal for under-planting deciduous trees and tall shrubs or as ground cover, although they can be grown anywhere in the garden, including flower beds and borders. They also make good spring container specimens.
The yellow flowers of eranthis mix well with other low growing spring-flowering plants. Ideal as a companion with Snowdrops, which are normally in bloom at the same time.
Easy to grow and establish if the growing conditions are right (moist humus rich soil and plenty of sun). Ensure the plants are kept moist during the growing season and keep the soil weed-free at all times. Once established they should spread and naturalize freely.
Note: If you are naturalising Eranthis in flower beds or borders, take care to mark or label the growing area, to prevent accidental disturbance once the leaves have died back.
No pruning necessary.
Generally pest and disease free. In warm winters aphids can be a problem - if infested they can cause the whole plant to become sticky and sooty. Birds may also peck at the flowers and flower-buds.
Propagate by seed sown under glass in late spring. Alternatively dig up and separate mature clumps in late spring, as soon as the flowers have died back. Replant immediately.
Most forms are low growing with golden yellow flowers. Average height 4in (10cm).
E. hyemalis is one of the most commonest species grown in the UK and is ideal for naturalizing in deciduous woodland areas. It has bright yellow flowers from mid-winter onwards, surrounded by a ruffled collar of green leaves. Height to 4in (10cm). Can become invasive in confined areas.
E. cilicica has bronze tinted foliage and pink stems.
E. x tubergenii (a hybrid of Eranthis
hyemalis and Eranthis cilicica) is an earlier
flowering robust variety, with slightly larger flowers
(up to 1in (25cm) a cross). A good form is 'Guinea
produces deep yellow fragrant flowers in early spring.