St. John's wort - sunny flower
Surely, many residents of our country are familiar with a low herbaceous plant, which can be found almost everywhere: in bright forests, on the edges, on upland meadows. This is one of the many species of hypericum - hypericum perforatum (Hypericum perforatum).
How did the modest Hypericum perforatum won love not only among the people, but also among scientists, primarily doctors? The advantages of the plant can not be counted. It contains vitamin C, carotene, essential oils and tannins, tarry substances. Preparations made from St. John's wort have astringent, hemostatic and antimicrobial properties that can stimulate tissue regeneration. For this he is nicknamed by the people "A cure for 99 diseases".
For more information on the medicinal properties of Hypericum perforatum, you will find in the article St. John's Wort - “wound healer”
However, the plant so revered by us, has become a malicious weed on the pastures of North America, Australia, New Zealand. Why are the farmers in these countries so worried? It turns out that St. John's wort causes severe cattle diseases. Horses and sheep are especially sensitive to it. That's probably where the name comes from «St. John's wort.
Hypericum species can be found in nature in completely different places, even in the African savannah. The mountain slopes, to the alpine zone, are not alien to them. So, Kenyan St. John's wort is found even at an altitude of 4300 m above sea level.
Naturally, the appearance of these plants is different. They can be very low grasses, shrubs, in which the aerial part dies in the winter, almost spread out, creeping or upright shrubs of various sizes, both evergreen and deciduous. Even low trees are known. But most species of St. John's wort grow well, bloom and do not freeze only in the warm temperate and subtropical zones. Therefore, in order to grow them on your site, you need to know whether the selected species is suitable for our climate.
I must say right away that among grassy species there are more winter-hardy ones, but they are less decorative than shrub species.
What hypericum can be grown in central Russia? Choosing from a variety of species the most decorative, Carpenters. L. divided them in winter hardiness into three groups. Plants of the first can tolerate an annual minimum of temperatures up to -29 ° С, the second - up to -24 ° С, the third - up to -17 ° С. It is the species from the first group that are more or less reliable in central Russia. For example, Hypericum densely flowered (H. densiflorum) and Calma (N. kalmianum).
The first grows in the eastern, the second - in the central states of North America. They are distinguished by the height of the bush. If St. John's wort can reach 3 m, then St. John's wort Calma does not exceed 1 m. Both species have leathery, dark green leaves with a bluish tinge. Their golden yellow flowers, collected in dense corymbose inflorescences, appear in the middle of summer and continue to open until autumn.
Species of the second group, despite their relative stability, should be planted in places protected from cold winds, and in winter cover the root system with leaves or spruce branches. Immediately make a reservation that at a temperature below -25 ° C these measures will be insufficient, plants may suffer or even die. Therefore, it is safer to grow them south of Moscow. The most interesting species of this group can be called the St. John's wort (H. olimpicum). His homeland is Bulgaria and Turkey.
This is dwarf, with drooping branches, or even a creeping deciduous shrub with small, up to 4 cm long bluish opposite, elliptical, thin leathery leaves. Its lemon yellow or bright yellow, sometimes with a reddish tint, star-shaped flowers, gathered in bunches, appear at the ends of shoots in July. At the St. John's Wort there is a grade "Citrinum» (‘Citrinum ’) with large flowers up to 3.5 cm in diameter.
St. John's wort (N. androsaemum) originally from the Caucasus. It has long golden stamens protruding from yellow star-shaped flowers. Beautiful are its fleshy, bright red fruit-boxes, blackening when ripe. In nature, there is a form with white-pink leaves, which made it possible to create varieties with dark purple and golden yellow leaves.
This group also includes Hypericum calyx (H. calycinum), growing in the Crimea and the Caucasus. This is an evergreen, very stunted shrub, not exceeding 0.2-0.6 m in height, but with large, up to 8 cm in diameter, golden yellow single flowers and leathery, dark green, shiny leaves. Late and prolonged flowering, from July to September, significantly increases the value of this decorative look.
Finally, the third group includes many very spectacular, but at the same time the most pampered hypericum. Their decorative qualities are fully manifested only in the south. This, for example, dwarf, open, evergreen shrub St. John's wort coriaceous (N. coris). Its height does not exceed 45 cm. Small linear leaves of a bluish color. Golden yellow petals along the veins have a reddish tint. It is ideal for rockeries and dry scree.
In the eighties of the XIX century, a hybrid species was obtained - St. John's wort Moser (N. x moserianum) - shrub 0.3-0.5 m tall with arch-like drooping red shoots and bluish-green leaves. The size of the flowers reaches 7 cm in diameter. Especially beautiful are their red or pink stamens. His grade "Tricolor" (‘Tricolor ’) It is famous for the fact that on one plant simultaneously there are variously colored leaves: cream, pink and green.
St. John's wort cultivation
What conditions must be created for St. John's wort for a good life? It must be said that it can grow both on loamy and sandy, quite moist, but well-drained soils. Places for landing should be sunny, protected from cold, northerly winds. In winter, the roots are covered with dry leaves, spruce branches, and in spring, dead shoots are pruned.
Do not be afraid to do this, since St. John's wort flowers are formed on the growing young shoots of the current year. We must accept the fact that these shrubs are not too durable, so in the middle lane, even with good care, they will have to be renewed after 8-10 years. But as they say, the game is worth the candle!
St. John's wort is a fertile material for breeders. Not without reason, at the Florida-2002 exhibition in Holland, many still unknown, but amazingly beautiful St. John's wort hybrids were presented. New products appearing in the West are distinguished by large golden flowers, brightly varied, shiny, glossy, as if varnished oval or round fruits, dense branching, lush dark green or bluish foliage.
However, surpassing the conventional types in terms of decorativeness, they are less resistant to the conditions of the Russian winter. The splendor of these plants will surely attract the attention of gardeners. Unfortunately, there is no experience in growing these hybrids in our country.
- Plotnikova. L. Shrubs with sunny flowers // In World of Plants, No. 7, 2006. - p. 12-15.