When the first rays of the sun melt the blanket of snow, snowdrops and delicate yellow blossoms peek out from under the white of the departing winter. The glowing blossoms belong to the winterlings, who bring fresh color into the garden as the heralds of spring. True to the motto: “A winterling rarely comes alone”, after the snow has cleared, a yellow carpet of flowers becomes visible, at the sight of which many hobby gardeners are really ecstatic. The herbaceous plant was originally intended to beautify parks, but nowadays it can increasingly be found in gardens, where it is ideal as an underplant for large shrubs or trees.
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Winterlings do not like to stand alone and are happy to be in a sociable group. They are ideal for beautifying rock gardens and beds, but also look good under deciduous shrubs or trees. It is not advisable to establish winterlings near conifers. For perfect growth, these need very acidic soil, which is not at all good for the little winterling. Furthermore, the small plants prefer a sunny to partially shaded location. Winterlings get along well with other popular early bloomers. A combination of the herbaceous plant with crocuses, snowdrops or tulips resembles a motley spring bouquet that can hardly be surpassed in terms of optical attractiveness.
The right care and soil conditions
Even before you see the small yellow flowers, you can smell their presence. Their scent is sweet and so mesmerizing that it attracts countless insects who want to feast on the nectar source.
Winterlings are considered to be extremely easy to care for and feel comfortable in almost any soil. However, humus-rich, loose soils are favoured. Since the tubers of the winter agaric are easily injured, you should definitely avoid hoeing or loosening the soil. It makes sense to remove existing weeds by hand.
The tubers in the ground must not dry out, so regular watering is an absolute must, especially in the summer months. However, the soil should only be slightly damp, as the plants are sensitive to waterlogging.
The growing season of the winterlings ends with the yellowing of the leaves and the so-called retraction of the plant. When the flowering period is over, some fertilizer can also be used to sufficiently supply the underground rhizomes. However, the foliage of the plant should only be removed when the leaves have completely withered. The leaves serve as a nutrient depot and store important substances that the winterling needs for its new flowering period.
As graceful and graceful as the winterlings may appear, they have a dark secret. The bulbous plants are considered to be highly toxic because their bulbs contain ingredients that are harmful to humans, such as glycosides and eranthine A and B. If these substances enter the body through the mucous membranes, severe symptoms of poisoning such as
- blurred vision,
- shortness of breath
- cardiac arrest
enter. To prevent the transfer of toxins, gloves should always be worn when planting or propagating winterlings.
Propagation by seed collection and sowing
The winter cultivars have their best flowering period between January and March, when the small yellow flowers stretch towards the sun. The flowers then turn brown and develop a pod containing the seeds. Anyone who thinks that spreading seeds once guarantees a dense carpet of flowers in the coming year is completely wrong. It can take up to 10 years before individual little plants develop into an impenetrable floral fabric.
Between the months of March and May, the seeds of the plant are ripe and the pericarps begin to open. Now is the time to harvest the seeds. To do this, the seeds are either gently shaken out or the pod-like shell is lightly crushed and the seeds removed. However, you should not wait too long before harvesting, otherwise the seeds will eject by themselves when a downpour falls on the sensitive shells. This process of self-dispersal then has the consequence that the seeds are distributed in places where they cannot be used at all. It is therefore obvious to collect the seeds and sow them again at the desired location.
It is important to ensure that the resulting small plants are not overgrown by weeds, otherwise they will be quickly overlooked and removed when weeding or gardening. Moss and leaves should also be removed from the soil before sowing to give the seedlings space and air to breathe. After 3 to 4 years, the young winterlings begin to present their flowers for the first time.
propagation by division
Another way of successfully propagating is by dividing the root ball. The ideal time for this is the month of June. If you already find a dense carpet of flowers in your garden, you can select a few plants for the propagation tactic and carefully lift them out with a spade. The tubers are then taken out of the ground and divided. With a distance of 20 to 30 centimeters, the sprout tubers are put back into the ground. Now is the time to rest and gather strength. Next spring, hobby gardeners can look forward to renewed blooms.
It’s planting time
Anyone who has no horticultural experience with the propagation of winterlings can also purchase the tubers from garden retailers and use them in the local soil. Since the winterlings are not typical bulb plants and only have storage organs available, it can happen that the tubers dry out quickly if they are stored improperly. It is best to put the tubers into the ground immediately after purchase. If this is not possible immediately, the winterlings need an extensive water bath in which they can fill up for half a day. Then planting holes are created in humus-rich soil, the depth of which corresponds to twice the size of the tuber to be used.
Ideally, winterlings should be planted in groups of 20 to 30 plants. Finally, the planting holes are covered with loose soil and the dug out turf. It makes sense to mark the planting area and to cover the planting site with bark mulch and leaves before the approaching winter. For a larger area planting, the planting distance should be about 5 centimeters. Even those who buy winterlings in spring in garden shops in pots or bowls can put them outdoors after the flowering period. Already in the next year they warm the heart of every gardener with their blooms.
Origin and external characteristics
The yellow early bloomers are originally native to warmer regions such as Italy, Bulgaria, Turkey or south-eastern France, where they set colorful accents in deciduous forests or vineyards. The doctor, botanist and natural scientist Joachim Camerarius fell in love with this natural beauty on his travels and brought it from Italy to Germany to cultivate in his private garden in Nuremberg. Winterlings became known beyond national borders towards the end of the 18th century, when they were used in extensive landscape parks and thus became fashionable.
The Winterling belongs to the buttercup family and is considered to be very robust and persistent. The herbaceous plant can withstand severe drought or frost with the help of its underground tuber, which serves as a storage organ, without suffering permanent damage. Winterlings have a thick stalk on which there are about 2.5 centimeter large golden yellow flowers that form a kind of collar. The flowers in turn call 6 bracts their own, which are unfilled and are located around the stamens. Between the petals and stamens are the nectar leaves that insects covet. When the flowering period is over, the plant develops a cross-striped, brown follicle containing initially yellow and later brown seeds.
diseases and pests
Winterlings are considered to be extremely resilient and have almost no external enemies. Sometimes it can happen that the very stubborn smut fungus can attack the plant. An infestation manifests itself as white or light brown spots that become visible on the leaves and stems. The only remedy here is to use chemical agents or destroy the tubers and replace the soil. Just like winterlings, snails love shady, damp places where they can hide easily. Slimy snail tracks and eaten leaves indicate the presence of the reptiles. With the help of slug pelletsthe population can be contained. Alternatively, home remedies such as setting up traps or barriers or laying out baits can be used. Sometimes it is enough to collect the reptiles continuously in the early morning or to clear the ground of superfluous leaves. In this way, the pests are finally deprived of any hiding place.
Conclusion No matter
how delicate the winterlings may seem, they defy the greatest change in the weather and do not let snow and ice deter them from their flowering period. They are quite undemanding fellows who turn the home garden into a real visual gem. If you need a bit of help at first, within 10 years the little yellow plant will turn into a remarkable carpet of flowers. Since the plants sow their seeds themselves, it can happen over time that you can no longer control the amount of plants. Regular minimization can help here.