What is Pericallis?
The term pericallis refers to a genus of flowering plants. Some of these plants are regularly cultivated in gardens, while others, like the common ragwort, grow wild in temperate North America. Scientists consider the genus pericallis to contain about 14 species, related to herbaceous plants that are native to Madeira and the Canary Islands. Some species of pericallis, notably Pericallis cruenta, Pericallis hybrida, and Pericallis senetti, are commonly cultivated as ornamentals. These perennials often bloom profusely and can be self-propagating.
The flowering plants of the pericallis family may produce blooms in many colors. Even within a single species, flowers may be blue, pink, red, purple and even white. Blooms may appear singular in shade, though some varieties produce bi-colored or tri-colored blooms.
These herbaceous plants may reach heights of 12 to 36 inches (30 to 90 cm). They mostly prefer partial to full shade, well-drained and moist soil, and temperate climates. These plants are usually best grown in climates where the average minimum temperature does not fall below 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-3.8 C). Because these plants do not typically respond well to either hot or cold temperature extremes, they should ideally be grown at temperatures between 55 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit (12.7 to 22.2 C).
Though pericallis plants may die back during the colder months in harsher climates, they are considered perennials. These self-sowing plants spread easily and are considered by some to be an invasive in damp, cool climates. Gardeners are typically advised to remove seed heads before they mature to prevent self-sowing and the spread of plants with the return of warm weather.
Most cultivated pericallis species produce blooms that resemble the common daisy. Their leaves are often triangular in shape and usually dark green in hue. Foliage may have a fuzzy surface texture. Blooms may appear in early spring and last through early summer. In cool, moist climates, blooms may last from early spring to early autumn.
These plants may be propagated by seed. For outdoor beds, seeds should be sowed in the autumn. Pericallis species can also be propagated by taking plant cuttings.
Though often sold as potted plants, pericallis species typically do not thrive well in a potted environment. In temperate climates where frost is not an issue, potted pericallis plants may be transplanted to outdoor garden beds. Some varieties, such as the pericallis senetti, are considered slightly more resistant to temperature extremes than others.
@anon328123 - Pericallis hybrids are really pretty, so that's a nice plant to get as a gift. Usually (depending on where you live of course) you'll want to plant it outside if you can, since they don't make the best house plants in the world.
They are a pretty good gift for someone who likes to have a variety of things in the garden. And they're easy to grow from seed as well if you've got a decent plant nursery.
@pastanaga - I'm not sure if you're thinking of the right "ragwort" because there are several different species called that around the world and some of them are in the pericallis family and some are not. It depends on where in the world you are.
Most ragwort is fairly hard on the allergies, though, so I wonder if that's how it gets the name (from needing a "rag" to blow your nose).
Ragwort can be an extremely invasive weed, which sort of spoils the pleasure of how pretty it can look. I used to have to spend hours after school pulling out ragwort on our land (the best way to get rid of it is to regularly pull it out before it flowers). The kind we pulled were yellow and I grew to really dislike it.
Then, a few months ago, I was driving in a place quite far from where we used to live and saw all these gorgeous pink and purple flowers everywhere. I commented on how lovely they were to my mother when I next talked to her and she shrugged and said that was ragwort as well.
So, it's no wonder people try to cultivate it sometimes, but I had such a bad experience with it, I still can't stand the stuff.
Well done and very informative. We received one plant as a gift and had no idea what it was, but now we do.
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