Pheasant’s eye – planting, care and tips

Pheasant's eye (Adonis amurensis)
Pheasant's eye (Adonis amurensis)

With the pheasant’s eye, a little jewel finds its way into your garden. Until the wild perennial becomes established in the bed, it challenges our horticultural skills. On the other hand, once it has settled in, its bright yellow floral pile gains magical expressiveness from year to year without much effort. The following care instructions describe all important framework conditions for successfully settling the endangered perennial. Read here what the buttercup family really values in order to thrive in the natural country house garden for decades.

Profile of pheasant’s eye:

Scientific name: Adonis amurensis

Plant family: buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)

Other names: Amur adonis (pheasant’s eye), Adonis vernalis (spring pheasant’s eye)

Sowing time: late spring

Planting time: spring or early autumn

Flowering period: February – April

Location: sunny to partially shaded

Soil quality: moderately dry to moderately moist, gritty to loamy, lime-loving to lime-tolerant, nutrient-rich, humus-rich

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: toxic; only used by experts

Use as spice herb: toxic; only used by experts

Use in: flower beds embankments, under planting, borders

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 3 (-40 °C / -35 °F)

Plant characteristics and classification of pheasant’s eye

Origin and occurrence of pheasant’s eye

Pheasant’s eye belong to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and are particularly valued for their early and striking flowering.

Plant order of pheasant’s eye

The more than 20 species of the genus grow in different habitats from Europe to Northeast Asia. The Amur Adonis (Adonis amurensis, also Adonis davurica) originally comes from Japan, China, Korea and Eastern Siberia and thrives in cool, deciduous forests. The name “Amur” refers to the area around the Amur River in East Asia. Spring pheasant’s eye (Adonis vernalis) is native to dry grasslands and steppes from Central and Southern Europe to Siberia. However, this species has become rare in the wild and is now under nature protection.

The genus Adonis owes its name to the red-flowering summer pheasant’s eye. According to a Greek legend, the plant originated when the goddess Aphrodite mourned the death of her lover Adonis. The flower grew from her tears.

Characteristics of the pheasant’s eye


The herbaceous, persistent pheasant’s eye is a slow-growing species with a stem-like root. The deciduous perennial reaches a height of 15 to 30 centimeters (6 to 12 in).


The leaves of the Adonis species are multiple pinnate and very small. Pheasant’s eye has triangular to oval, 15 centimeters (6 in) long, finely cut leaves that appear slightly reddish when they sprout. The beautiful, fern-like foliage of most species dies in summer.


The bright golden yellow, bowl-shaped flowers are in loose racemes on the richly leafed stems. In Adonis amurensis, the flowers, which are 3 to 4 cm (1.2 to 1.6 in) in diameter and consist of around 20 petals, are surprisingly frost-tolerant. They appear from February to April – at the time the snow melts and before the leaves start to sprout. The spring pheasant’s eye only bloom from April to May.

Pheasant's eye
Pheasant’s eye

Pheasant’s eye – cultivation and care


Depending on the species of Amur adonis, partially shaded or sunny locations are suitable. While pheasant’s eye thrives particularly well in the cool shade, spring pheasant’s eye loves warm, sunny places.


In general, Adonis need a well-drained soil with good water retention. Pheasant’s eye prefers fresh, humus-rich, neutral or acidic soils. Spring pheasant’s eye, on the other hand, loves a moderately dry to dry, calcareous clay soil.

Planting / Sowing / Propagation

Adonis can easily be multiplied by division in summer. A division of the plants is recommended in summer after the leaves are dying back.

Sowing is also possible – ideally right after ripening in late spring. Since the seeds are cold germs, a four-week cooling treatment promotes germination. However, they germinate very irregularly and the seedlings grow very slowly in the first few years. They reach maturity after around three to four years.

Spring or early autumn is recommended as the time for planting. Choose a planting distance of around 30 cm (12 in) in the bed. Eleven plants can be planted per square meter (3×3 ft).


If a pheasant’s eye finds the ideal location, it is satisfied with the natural amount of rain for the water supply. Only in the year of planting it needs to be watered regularly to promote rooting.


In addition, the wildflower likes to take on organic fertilizers in the form of compost, horn shavings or bark humus when being planted.

The early flowering spring pheasant’s eye gets its fertilizer already in autumn, since the organic material cannot be used at temperatures below 10-12 °C (50-54 °F). Fertilize summer blooming pheasant’s eye preferably in April / May. Alternatively, repeatedly sprinkle the bedding area with nettle swill during the flowering period. In August and September, strengthen the winter hardiness with comfrey swill.


Despite their delicate appearance, the Adonis are very robust, easy to care for and durable. They develop best when they can grow undisturbed in the same place for many years.

Diseases and pests

Snails like to eat the young shoots of the Adonis floret.


Frost does not harm the wild perennials. It is hardy down to -40 °C / -35 °F.

Use in the garden

Adonis amurensis is well suited for sunny areas in front of deciduous trees. The species looks particularly beautiful in front of early flowering witch hazels and ornamental cherry trees (Prunus). It also cuts a fine figure in combination with snowdrops (Galanthus), dogtooth violet (Erythronium dens-canis), Christmas roses (Helleborus niger) and plantain lilies (Hosta).

Caution toxic

Adonis florets are poisonous. Even the smallest amounts of the poison it contains can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Worse symptoms of poisoning include cramps, irregular heartbeat and shortness of breath. The cardioactive glycoside is also used specifically for various cardiovascular agents.

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