The London pride is particularly valuable from a horticultural point of view: the perennial forms both pretty leaf rosettes and filigree star-shaped flowers and thrives even in the shade. Here are tips on planting and care.
Profile of London pride:
Scientific name: Saxifraga x urbium
Plant family: saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae)
Other names: St. Patrick’s cabbage, whimsey, prattling Parnell, look up and kiss me
Sowing time: spring
Planting time: autumn
Flowering period: May to June
Location: partially shady to shady
Soil quality: sandy to loamy, lime-tolerant, low in nutrients, low in humus
These information are for temperate climate!
Use in: ground cover, borders, grave planting, planters, planting pots, area greening, cottage garden, flower garden, rock garden, potted garden
Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 6 (-20 °C / -5 °F)
Bee and insect friendly: Yes
Plant characteristics and classification of London pride
Plant order, origin and occurrence of London pride
The London pride (Saxifraga x urbium) is a valuable hybrid for the garden. It is the result of crossing Saxifraga spathularis and Saxifraga umbrosa, both members of the large family of saxifrage plants (Saxifragaceae). The parent species originate from northern Portugal and the northwest of Spain and the Pyrenees.
Characteristics of London pride
This pretty perennial develops loose, evergreen carpets consisting of many individual leaf rosettes. A London pride grows between 10 and 30 centimeters (4 and 12 in) high and almost as wide. The stems, on which the flowers sit, are dark red.
The large, medium to dark green colored leaf rosettes of the London pride consist of spatula-shaped, leathery leaves with serrated edges.
During the flowering period, from May to June, the London pride lives up to its name and adorns itself with delicate panicles composed of filigree star-shaped flowers. The color palette ranges from rosy white to old pink to pinkish-red spotted flowers.
A peculiarity of the hybrid: Saxifraga urbium bears fruit only very rarely. When it does, the seeds form in inconspicuous capsules.
London pride – cultivation and care
The London pride thrives best in partially shady areas. But the perennial can also cope with shady places in the garden.
The London pride does not need many nutrients and thrives wonderfully on barren, humus-poor soil. However, they should be well-drained and fresh to moist.
Planting London pride
The London pride is best planted in autumn. Choose a frost-free day and make sure that there is no threat of frost immediately after planting. This makes it easier for the perennial to grow quickly. Keep a distance of 20 centimeters (8 in) when planting. To obtain a dense carpet, plant 25 London prides per square meter (10 sq ft).
The plant is watered moderately but regularly. It is sufficient, however, to irrigate in the absence of precipitation. The soil should always dry well before the next watering.
Fertilization is basically not necessary. Since the plant prefers poor sites anyway, occasional additions of lime are sufficient for mineral soil optimization. The lime requirement can later be covered even with calcareous tap water.
Where many plants have to be cut back regularly, which creates a lot of work, the London pride is once again easy to care for. A regular cutting is not necessary in principle. Only when aesthetic reasons arise can thinning make sense. Those who decide to cut back should do so in late autumn. The plant then has enough time to rest until spring.
No special care measures are required. The wilted inflorescences should be cut off in order to have a clear view of the decorative leaf rosettes for the rest of the year.
In the case of the London pride, dividing serves less for propagation than for rejuvenation of older plants. The right time for this is in spring.
Their growth rate is so strong that the London pride basically takes the propagation work off the gardener’s hands. A perennial can form a dense carpet within a short time due to its runners, which is why the plant is so popular as a ground cover. But there are also two simple ways to propagate the London pride.
- If you have purchased the appropriate seeds, you can sow them in the garden directly into the soil or in tubs. For orientation, it is said that about 25 plants can be planted per square meter (10 sq ft).
- If London prides are already present, a runner can be cut off and replanted as a daughter plant in another place. All rooted leaf rosettes can be used for this.
Diseases and pests
The larvae of the black vine weevil can cause damage to the perennials. Otherwise, sometimes aphids appear. Experiences differ with regard to snails: Sometimes they avoid the London pride, sometimes they attack it.
What to do in case of black vine weevils on the plant?
If you discover the pest on the London pride, you can effectively combat it with a few simple steps and soon enjoy the beauty of the plant undisturbed:
- Adult animals can first be collected from the leaves. However, since the beetle is nocturnal, this method is tedious and rarely has lasting success.
- Helpful is the purchase of neem press cake. This consists of the seeds of the neem tree and is not at all tasty to the black vine weevil. By pressing it flat into the garden soil, the neem press cake becomes an effective source of disturbance and the beetles will hardly cause any feeding damage.
- If you want to drive the parasite out of the garden permanently, it is more difficult. The purchase of nematodes is possible. These are nematodes that can be purchased in specialized shops and then exposed in the soil. In the trade, many manufacturers have specialized in effective methods for dosing and spreading the little helpers. A little practice is nevertheless necessary and the process must usually be repeated annually.
The London pride is one of the few green rays of light that bring cheer to properties and gardens during the cold winter months. The robust plant is frost hardy down to -20 °C / -5 °F and does not have to spend the winter indoors, even in the cold season. Although the flowers die after the months of May and June, the leaves remain green throughout the year. It is advisable to cover young plants, in the first year of planting, with some brushwood
Use in the garden
The London pride inspires just as much as a flat leaf decoration as a filigree and nostalgic-looking flower decoration. The perennial is perfect for edging borders and flowerbeds with little light. Due to its modest soil requirements, it is often used in rock gardens or for easy-care and decorative grave planting. But you can also keep the London pride on a balcony or terrace: The best way to show it off is in a bowl.
Some varieties of London prides are also interesting for the garden:
- Saxifraga x urbium ‘Aureopunctata’: green-yellow spotted foliage, very common
- Saxifraga x urbium ‘Miss Chambers’ (sometimes also ‘Chamber’s Pink Pride’): strong pink flowers
- Saxifraga x urbium ‘Variegata’: leaves yellow-green variegated, maximum 20 cm high (8 in)
Could this plant tolerate 12″ snow cover in Boston, MA?
I would say so. Under the snow it is not so cold, and it tolerates temperatures down to -5F. But you should cover it with brushwood in the first year of planting.