How to Grow Wallflowers for Colour and Fragrance

Everything you need to know about wallflowers

Part of our Spring Flowering Plants guide: By Daniel Woodley at DIY Gardening

Not only can wallflowers produce an abundance of vibrant colour and delightful fragrance, but they’re also one of the best companion plants for dozens of spring-flowering bulbs.

Key points:

  1. Biennials are usually grown as spring bedding plants while perennials flower well into summer and even autumn.
  2. Easy to grow.
  3. Some are highly fragrant.
  4. Come in a wide array of colours, with the most popular being bright red, yellow, orange, and pinks.
  5. Perfect for borders amongst spring-flowering bulbs or in containers of any size.
  6. Good for pollinators, and they make lovely cut flowers.

Size

Height: Up to 30cm (12″)

Spread: Up to 65cm (25″)

Perennial wallflowers are often taller, up to 75cm (30″) and spreader further

Type

Type

Hardy biennial (perennials have also become popular in recent years, are semi-evergreen and short-lived)

Growth icon

Growth

Reaches full size by year two or three

Difficulty

Very easy to grow in all parts of the UK

Native

Southwest Asia, Mediterranean, Europe, Africa, and North America

Location

A moist but free-draining spot is ideal but wallflowers will grow in poor soils. Consider flower beds and containers

Sunlight

Full sun but some will tolerate very light shade

Hardiness

US zone 6-9 and all parts of the UK

Water & Feed

Water after planting until established and then only during drought conditions. Wallflowers in containers may need more frequent watering. No fertiliser is required but a yearly mulch can be of benefit

Companions

Often placed amongst spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils

Planting

Dig in grit to improve drainage if required. There’s no need to add organic matter or fertiliser when planting into soil

Flowering

Biennial wallflowers usually bloom in March and April but some varieties and perennials flower through to the summer and beyond

Purple wallflower blooms
Orange and yellow wallflower blooms on green stems with foliage

How to Grow Wallflowers

How and When are Wallflowers Sold?

Wallflowers are usually sold in three ways:

  1. As seeds that should be started off indoors from late January and planted out after the last frosts.
  2. As plugs ready for planting from March.
  3. As bare roots for planting in late August through to late September

Where is the best location to plant wallflowers?

Wallflowers prefer a sunny spot but will tolerate very light shade.

While moist soil is best, it should be free-draining and grit can be added to improve drainage.

As a general rule of thumb; if the location is suitable for spring-flowering bulbs, it will suit wallflowers.

Consider growing wallflowers in containers and amongst tulips and daffodils in beds.

Taller wallflowers may require staking or placing in a sheltered spot.

How should the ground be prepared?

There’s no need to add organic matter as wallflowers thrive in poor soil.

Consider adding grit to improve drainage if required and ensure containers have adequate drainage holes.

How much water or fertiliser do wallflowers need?

Once established, wallflowers only require watering during drought conditions.

There’s no need to add fertiliser, but a yearly mulch can be of benefit, especially to perennial wallflowers.

How tall and wide will wallflowers grow?

Biennial wallflowers usually grow up to 30cm (12″) tall but perennials can reach 75cm (30″) and may require staking.

Most wallflowers will spread by up to 65cm (25″)

Should wallflowers be deadheaded?

Biennal wallflowers will set seed when the temperature warms up and will then stop flowering.

You can prolong the flowering period by deadheading throughout the flowering season.

All wallflowers make excellent cut flowers.

Are there any pests or diseases that affect wallflowers?

Once established, very few pests bother wallflowers, and slugs generally leave them alone.

The flea beetle may affect younger plants, and they will leave small holes on all the tender leaves.

This page explains how to get rid of flea beetles naturally, and there are plenty of chemical solutions to consider.

Mildew and blights may affect plants that are grown in overly wet soils and watered overhead.

When do wallflowers produce blooms and how long do they last?

Perennial wallflowers can bloom for long periods from spring into summer while most biennials flower for around four weeks, usually from March into April.

Can wallflowers be propagated to create more plants?

Biennial wallflowers readily set seeds, usually when the temperature increases. The new plants probably won’t be true to the parent plant.

Perennials are sterile but can be propagated easily from stem cuttings during the growing season.

Are wallflowers toxic or harmful to humans and pets?

While wallflowers are technically poisonous they are generally considered safe to cats, dogs and humans unless consumed in vast quantities. 

Are wallflowers beneficial to wildlife?

Wallflowers are beneficial to pollinators, including bees.

Source.

Can wallflowers be grown in pots?

Wallflowers can be grown in pots of all sizes, either alone or with other plants such as spring-flowering bulbs.

Buy Wallflowers Online

3 x WallFlower Scarlet Bedder Erysimum Cheiri Plug Plants in Eco Pots Red
Flowering Plants - WallFlower 'Tom Thumb' - 6 x Full Plug Plant Pack
3 x WallFlower Scarlet Bedder Erysimum Cheiri Plug Plants in Eco Pots Red
Flowering Plants - WallFlower 'Tom Thumb' - 6 x Full Plug Plant Pack
3 x WallFlower Scarlet Bedder Erysimum Cheiri Plug Plants in Eco Pots Red
3 x WallFlower Scarlet Bedder Erysimum Cheiri Plug Plants in Eco Pots Red
Flowering Plants - WallFlower 'Tom Thumb' - 6 x Full Plug Plant Pack
Flowering Plants - WallFlower 'Tom Thumb' - 6 x Full Plug Plant Pack

Growing Wallflowers: 8 Pro Tips

Here are eight pro tips that will help anyone wanting to grow wallflowers for the first time:

  1. While perennials may sound like the better option, they are in most cases short-lived, and you may get better results with biennials which pack more of a punch in the second year.
  2. Choose a sunny spot for the best results. While wallflowers will grow in partial or light shade, they’ll produce more numerous and larger blooms if grown in full sun.
  3. Heavy clay soil should be augmented with grit to improve drainage.
  4. If grown in pots, choose a compost with a neutral ph or slightly alkaline.
  5. Bare root wallflowers are the easiest to grow, but seeds are the cheapest. The most expensive option is to buy established plants.
  6. There’s no need to regularly feed or fertilise wallflowers as this can cause the stems to grow woody; a yearly mulch is more than enough.
  7. Pinch out the centre stem after three pairs of leaves are visible; this will produce a more bushy plant.
  8. Deadhead to encourage new blooms, especially if growing biennials.

Try these wallflower varieties:

For Scent

Wallflowers with the strongest scent are the short-lived/biennials from the Erysimum Cheiri (Cheiranthus) group. Available in a wide range of colours, they all produce a sweet fragrance.

For Prolonged Flowering

While Erysimum Cheiri is a popular wallflower grown as bedding, Erysimum Bowles Mauve is the best bet for prolonged flowering as the blooms often last for several months from spring into summer. This variety is also likely to come back year after year but, unfortunately, is unscented.

For Multi Coloured Blooms

Erysimum “Jacob’s Jacket” is a low sprawling wallflower with compact dark pink, red and purple blooms atop short stems up to 40cm.

Companion Plants

The best companion plants will depend on whether you’re growing spring or summer flowering wallflowers.

As a general rule of thumb, early flowering biennials go well with bulbs such as early alliums, tulips and late daffodils while perennial wallflowers sit well with late alliums, pinks, sage, coneflowers and anemones.

Problem Solving

Here are the solutions to common wallflower problems:

Plants flopping over – This only affects taller wallflowers which may require staking to keep them upright. Discover the best garden stakes here.

Woody stems – Perennial wallflowers can become woody but as they’re short-lived, one can propagate from cuttings each year to replenish stock and keep them looking fresh.

Slug and snail damage – This is only likely to affect young plants or when there’s little else for these pests to consume in the garden. Consider these slug deterrents and traps.

Holes in wallflower leaves – These are most likely caused by flea beetles. Try these solutions.

More Photos

yellow blooms on wallflower
Reddish purple wallflowers in a flower bed
Red wallflower on green foliage
Yellow and orange wallflower

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Author: Daniel Woodley

This guide to growing wallflowers for spring and summer colour was lovingly created by Daniel Woodley here at DIY Gardening and was last updated in March 2022.

Discover more spring-flowering bulbs and plants here.

Daniel is a keen gardener who also manages a large residential landscape in addition to his own mid-size garden.

He also enjoys experimenting with vegetables and fruits in his garden but with varying success!

More About Daniel Woodley

Danny Woodley

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