Idiosyncratic, exotic, distinctive: this is how the Himalayan Whorlflower can be described. The pretty perennial should have deserved more attention in the perennial bed.
Profile of Himalayan Whorlflower:
Scientific name: Morina longifolia
Plant family: borage family (Boraginaceae)
Other names: –
Sowing time: autumn
Planting time: spring
Flowering period: July to August
Soil quality: sandy to loamy, calcipholous, nutrient-poor to moderately nutrient-rich
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: flowerbeds, stand-alone, group planting, borders, natural garden, prairie garden, rock garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-20 °C / -5 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of Himalayan Whorlflower
Plant order, origin and occurrence of Himalayan Whorlflower
The Himalayan Whorlflower (Morina longifolia) comes from the Himalayan region and, with its acanthas, is one of the thistles. It is one of four species of the evergreen perennial genus, all of which are native to open slopes or sparse forests from Eastern Europe to Western China and were named after the French botanist Louis Morin. Morina longifolia grows on mats and clearings at altitudes between 3,000 and 4,000 meters (9,800 and 13,100 ft). The Himalayan Whorlflower has been cultivated in the garden since the beginning of the 19th century – but unfortunately it is still planted far too rarely.
Characteristics of Himalayan Whorlflower
The Himalayan Whorlflower is a rosette-forming, evergreen perennial that reaches a height of 60 to 80 centimeters (24 to 32 in) and forms a strong root stock with a deep taproot.
The elongated, pinnate leaves are up to 25 centimeters (10 in) long. They smell aromatic and have a dark green shine. The pointed teeth are striking on the otherwise smooth leaf edge. The leaves get smaller towards the top and are whorled.
In summer, between July and August, spikes with 3 centimeters (1.2 in) long creamy white flowers appear at the end of the flowering shoots, the color of which later turns into a distinctive pinkish red. In the transition period this creates a two-tone effect. The flowers are arranged in layers in whorled groups, similar to what is known from the much more common lamb’s ear. Underneath are stinging bracts. The flowers themselves have a long corolla tube that slopes down a little, the petals on the five-column calyx are half fused together. Morina longifolia differs from other common teasels by its stamens, which are much shorter than the corolla. The sweet smelling flowers appeal many insects.
The decorative seed heads should remain on the perennial over the winter, they enrich the bare winter perennial bed. They are not cut off until spring. There is no self-sowing.
Himalayan Whorlflower – cultivation and care
Himalayan Whorlflower prefers a place in full sun.
The soil should be poor to moderately rich in nutrients, but also very well drained. A calcareous substrate is preferred. The tap roots need a deep soil. As with all thistles, the water requirement is low.
The soil should be loosened deeply for the planting. You may be able to mix in coarse sand on this occasion to improve drainage. Give the Himalayan Whorlflower enough space so that it can develop its full potential. Long-sleeved clothing and gloves should be worn when planting to avoid scratching the skin.
Care / Watering / Fertilization
The seed stand should not be cut back until spring, because the winter aspect in the perennial bed is remarkable. Once established, it can stay in place for decades. The plant does not need to be watered, probably in long-lasting summer drought, it is advisable to water from time to time in the morning or evening hours. There is no need for fertilizing. Once a year, in spring, a handful of compost or horn shavings can be given.
The plant needs cold to germ and therefore needs a frost phase to overcome the germ inhibition. The seeds of the Himalayan Whorlflower are sown in autumn in bowls with a substrate mixed with sand or gravel. However, germinable seeds are seldom formed in the garden.
Diseases and pests
Above all, moisture in the soil causes the roots to rot. Otherwise, Himalayan Whorlflower is robust against animal and fungal pests.
Himalayan Whorlflower is hardy down to -20 °C / -5 °F. Protection from moisture is desirable in winter. The plant is best protected from the drying winter sun with a layer of brushwood.
Use in the garden
Himalayan Whorlflower fits well in a rock garden or in prairie and steppe beds. Due to their durability, the flower heads are an eye-catcher in any ambience. They also look pretty at the foot of dry stone walls. Suitable companions are other drought and sun lovers such as yarrow or coneflower, which are just as tall. Bronze pirri-pirri-bur or baby’s breath are also suitable as plant partners.