Description and botany
Latin name: Erysimum and Matthiola sp.
Common name: Wallflower
Flowering: spring or summer
Height: 20 to 80 cm
Exposure: full sun
Hardiness: often around -15°C
The wallflowers are perennial, biennial or annual plants, with generous spring or summer flowering. The name Giroflée mainly refers to two plants: Erysimum cheiri and Matthiola incana, although wallflowers gather in a broad sense encompass other closely related species. The most common is wallflower, Erysimum cheiribut we also often find in cultivation the midlife wallflower, or Matthiola incana. These two plants are native to Europe, and in particular to the Mediterranean region. But they have naturalized elsewhere.
Wallflowers can be found growing wild in France. The wallflower grows on old stone walls, between rocks… The midlife wallflower grows more on the coast, on cliffs, rockeries or low walls.
Wallflower is a short-lived perennial, but is often grown as a biennial.
Wallflowers were so named because their scent is reminiscent of cloves. They also have many synonyms and common names. Erysimum cheiri takes the names of Giroflée ravenelle, Giroflée des murailles, yellow violier, golden stick… while Matthiola incana is often called Quarantine Wallflower, Summer Wallflower, or Garden Wallflower… It owes its Latin name to the Italian physician and botanist Pietro Andrea Mattioli (1501 – 1577). Erysimum cheiri is sometimes called Cheiranthus cheiri (synonyms).
The Erysimium bring together more than 200 species, while the Matthiola number about fifty. The group of wallflowers is therefore very vast, especially since it is necessary to add the innumerable horticultural varieties obtained by hybridization.
These plants are part of the Brassicaceae family., plants sometimes called Cruciferae (old name), because of their flowers with four petals arranged in a cross. This family is known for the many vegetable and utility plants it brings together: cabbages, radishes, rapeseed, mustard, arugula, etc. There are also ornamental plants, such as Iberisaubrietes or Alissum…
Wallflowers are erect plants; they have erect stems that bear flowers at their tops. They are sometimes semi-shrubby, and the base of the stems tends to become ligneous (form wood). Wallflowers measure between 20 and 80 cm in height. There are also many varieties selected for their compact habit (up to 40 cm in height), such as those of the ‘Bedder’ series among Erysimum cheirior those of the ‘Midget’ series among Matthiola incana. These dwarf wallflowers are particularly suitable for planting in pots or planters.
wallflower, Erysimum cheiri, blooms early in spring, between March and June; while usually Matthiola incana blooms mostly in summer (although some early varieties are also found). Thus, the flowering of wallflowers can be spread out from March to September. Some varieties have the advantage of flowering from the end of winter (Erysimium ‘Winter Joy’…). It can be interesting to combine different varieties to enjoy a long flowering period!
The wallflowers offer a very generous and abundant flowering. They bear inflorescences at the top of their upright stems. Matthiola incana has large flower clusters, more or less elongated.
Wallflowers have flowers fairly typical of the Brassicaceae family. They measure between 2 and 5 cm in diameter, and are made up of four free petals arranged in a cross. These petals have a fairly wide and rather rounded shape. They are surrounded by four sepals, and in the center of the flower there are six stamens. The flowers of Matthiola incana are sometimes double.
The flowers of the botanical species Erysimum cheiri (Wallflower) are orange-yellow. In general, the varieties that come from it often take on warm hues: yellow, orange, bronze, scarlet red… while the midlife wallflower comes more in shades of mauve, lilac, pink, purple and white. Together, they cover a very wide color palette! We also appreciate wallflowers for their bright and very bright blooms. Some varieties offer a color that changes over time! They sometimes have very beautiful shades within an inflorescence, as in theErysimium ‘Winter Orchid’.
If the flowers of theErysimum cheiri have a fairly simple and natural side, and can easily be integrated into a country-style garden, those of Matthiola incana are generally more complex and sophisticated, often with varieties with double flowers, and flowers grouped in large elongated clusters. They will rather fit into a romantic garden, cottage garden or English garden… in a more worked and sophisticated massif.
The wallflower is a good bee plant. Its spring flowering attracts pollinating insects.
Wallflowers have the advantage of offering fragrant flowers, and those of Matthiola incana are ideal for composing bouquets.
The flowers of the evening Wallflower, Matthiola longipetala, have the particularity of opening at the end of the afternoon. They are truly appreciated for their fragrance, which is why this plant is sometimes called “fragrant wallflower”.
The leaves of the wallflower are quite ordinary. They measure up to 20 cm long, and have a thin and elongated, lanceolate shape. They are simple, with a generally entire edge, but sometimes toothed. They are arranged alternately on the stems.
Wallflower leaves are often greensometimes a little bluish, but can also take on beautiful gray or whitish hues (especially at Matthiola incana). Varieties with variegated leaves are found, such as Erysimum linifolium ‘Variegatum’. The foliage of Matthiola incana is hairy; he has white hair. In other species, such as Matthiola sinuatathe foliage is really woolly.
The wallflower has a pivoting and relatively fragile root systemwhich makes it tricky to transplant or transplant.
After flowering, the wallflower produces pods (characteristic fruits of Brassicaceae), containing the seeds. These pods are elongated and narrow, somewhat resembling small bean pods.