Thursday, March 22, 2012

Did You Ever Wonder Why Pulmonaria Blooms Change Color?

Dan Heims
When I attended the Chicago Flower and Garden Show earlier this month, I had the pleasure of hearing the great Dan Heims speak. If you love heucheras, you may know who he is, but in case you aren't familiar with him, he is responsible for many of the heucheras on the market today. Based in Portland, Oregon, he is the owner of Terra Nova Nurseries, where all those beautiful plants get their start.

I always learn something from him and it's usually something very, very cool. This time, it involved another favorite plant of mine, and it wasn't Heuchera.

Pulmonarias are known for their gorgeous, fuzzy spotted foliage, and the early spring blooms of pink-turned-blue. Did you ever wonder why those blooms change color? Why not stay pink?

Pulmonaria longifolia 'Roy Davidson'

It turns out that it has to do with attracting pollinators. The color of a plant's blooms attracts specific pollinators - just the right ones for that particular plant. That's not a big surprise, but this changing color thing is.

When the plant is fully primed with pollen, the color of the plant attracts its pollinators. Once pollination has occurred, the plant changes color. The reason? Mother Nature can be very efficient.

Pulmonaria 'Trevi Fountain', hybridized by Dan Heims

To discourage pollinators from wasting their time visiting an already-pollinated plant, the bloom changes to a color that the pollinator isn't particularly attracted to. They'll pass this one by.

I find that incredibly, marvelously fascinating.


Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

I am glad you posted this. I have always wondered about this. Have my first Pulmonaria now, but our MG Learning Garden had some that drew my interest. thanks!!

Bren said...

It's that time of year ... love the Pulmonaria. What brought this plant to my attention a few years back was the spots on the leaves. When it bloomed for the first time it was quit the surprise. Happy Spring Kylee and keep sharing your blooms because they make this world a better place!

WhispersOfHarmony said...

your pictures are spectacular!!! I love flowers and gardening and someday i want to have a whole acre or more turned into a English Tea Garden!!(:

Kylee Baumle said...

Janet ~ I think they're a gorgeous plant - both blooms and foliage! Just knowing this little factoid makes them even more special!

Bren ~ I agree - that foliage is really gorgeous. I'd love them even if they didn't bloom! You can bet I'll keep sharing, just like you, because you're right - where would we be without flowers?

WhispersOfHarmony ~ Thank you! An English tea garden would be fabulous!

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