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The following is particularly true for Hepatica japonica, and
particularly for plants in pots. There is no significant difference in
the cultivation of H. japonica and H. nobilis, except the lime.
H. nobilis require lime, while H. japonica prefer ph 5,5 to 6.
When growing Hepatica, we must keep in mind that it is a woodland plant
that grows on slopes in deciduous forests. In the winter it is covered
by snow, which means that it only needs full light in the short period
in spring from the snow is melting until the leaves on the trees unfold.
The rest of the year it needs shade. It requires good drainage, which
the roots from the trees provide in nature. Hepatica requires lots of
water in the spring months March, April and May when they develop new
leaves and set seeds. The rest of the year the soil must be keeping
slightly moist. In autumn the plants are covered naturally with a layer
of fallen leaves, and as before mentioned, snow, which protects against
the winter weather.
Hardiness of frost
When talking about hardiness against frost, then japonica
is not as resilient as nobilis. It is believed that japonica can
withstand down to -10 C, while nobilis probably easily do it twice or
more. I grow both varieties in the garden as well as in my greenhouse,
and my japonica in the garden, are in the winter covered by a
plastic box with good air circulation. This device does not protect
against frost, only against winter moisture and wind,
but when the plant is dry it withstand the frost.
With regard to fertiliser there may be as many opinions as there are
I add each pot a little long effective fertilizer
(½ year) in March, and then I don't worry about additional
fertilization until the autumn, where the plants gets a fertiliser with
high potassium and phosphate content
(for development of new roots and buds) - no nitrogen.
Plants in the garden gets an all-round fertilizer in the spring.
Cutting leaves and ended flowers
Just after the flowering season, you must take away the
old leaves and ended flowers for better growing the new leaves. Use a
scissors, and remember to sterilise the scissors to protect against
possible virus infection etc. from one plant to another
(I use alcohol). Of course, you must keep the
stems with seeds you like to take afterwards.
Check the plants
pest and disease.
Repot the plants
every one or second year, and cut the roots. Take away the old dead
roots, and cut and thin out. Moreover check the roots for pest and
disease as e.g. nemathodes.
Tage care of
fungus, and spray two or three times a year.
Propagation can be done by seeds, sharing or root
Many will probably agree with me when I say, that
the most exciting to grow Hepatica is the crossing work.
Trying to develop new varieties, find out what plants to cross, from the
different properties, and then see the results a couple or three years
later, is extremely exciting.
If one doesn’t do anything, the bees mostly will do the pollination, and
it can really give very exciting plants. But if you will try to make the
full or half-filled forms one mostly must do an effort oneself.
See the article "Mutated
flowers from seed"
After the plant has set seeds the next job is to watch
and take care that it does not throw the seeds before you get them
harvested. One should not expect to reap all Hepatica seeds at one time.
Even on the same plant the seeds do not ripen simultaneously. It may be
difficult to see when the seed is becoming mature, and suddenly, they
dropped by, so it's a fluke if you are present when it happens. Numerous
are the devices, which are designed for catching the seeds. It may, for
example be small containers placed under the stem, bags or whatever you
can think of. I myself have made small bags of a residual very thin and
fine meshed curtain (dense, or the seeds will fall through). I put the
seed bed in the bag as soon as I can see that the plant has set seed. I
close the bag with a stapler, and then through the thin fabric I can see
when the seeds fall off, or possibly after a light touch. I think that
works well also in the garden, as the substance dries quickly after a
rain shower, and avoid that the seeds become mouldy.
When the seeds are harvest, they shall be sowing as soon as possible. A
longer store is becoming poorer germination. If you require storage of
the seeds for a period, then put them in the fridge. I myself have got
seeds to germinate which has been stored a year's time, but it is the
exception rather than the rule. Recently I have read, that "old" seeds
sprouts nice if they soak a day or two before sowing.
Sow the seed in a soil added for instance cat litter (not
the one that lumps), perlite or other water-absorbing material and a
little gravel, so it becomes a porous water-permeable soil, which also
keeps the moisture. H. japonica prefers a pH around 5.5 to 6., while H.
nobilis needs lime. Cover the seeds with a little sand and then a layer
of cat litter. Place the pots outdoors in the shade and cover with a
net, to prevent birds and dogs, etc. to root in the soil. Give water in
Next year in February / March/April the seed sprouts, and as soon as
they can be handled they can be potted in a soil mixture similar to the
above mentioned. Remember fertilising. I use the long effective.
You may be lucky that some plants bloom the year after sprouting, but
most probably waiting until the year after. I.e. that the seeds sown in
2009, is flourishing in 2011 or 2012. Please note that the flower is
changing, and first has the permanent appearance after the third year of
Another propagation method is sharing. It can occur in
August/September (not too hot), in January before flowering, when it
flowers, or just after the flowering. I have tried it all, and I think I
prefer August. Then the plants get time to shoot new roots before
winter. At that time the flowering will not be disturbed, and nor the
seeds. When sharing takes all the soil from the roots (wash away the
rest of the soil), and divide carefully the buds trying to get as large
roots as possible.
Check the plants - including the roots - for pest and disease.
Prune the roots.
Should the accident be out, and a bud breaking off without any roots,
then pot it as the others, and place the pot in a plastic bag. Close the
bag so the plant is airtight, and place it in the shade, and it will
form new roots.
Use a potting soil as used for potting the small baby
The filled and semi filled now and then can change
appearance the year after dividing. For instance a filled form can
change to single and develop stamens and pistils. Remember to make use
of this to get seed plants with genes for filled flowers. This changing
is the autonomous conservation activities in the nature for surviving.
Also by the single forms there can occur changes in colour or other
characteristics. By the most the plants will get it's normal look again
Sometimes, you can see a thickening of lower part of the
root, and a small new shoot sprouting up. This part of the rhizomes can
be carefully cut off with a sharp knife, or tear with your fingers, and
the new shoot are planted in the same way as other divisions. Root
cuttings can also be made by dividing the roots in the 'part', each with
a dormant 'eye'. The last I have not tried myself, so I just mention it.
Hepatica nobilis in the garden - in April 2009
Hepatica japonica in the greenhouse - marts 2010. They are placed
after type - in front is Hyoujunka
The small bags to catch the seed are placed.
The small seedlings are potted - here five in
each pot. It gives space to grow until flowering in two to four years.
Here is seen how
'Kagura' has changed from one year to another. 'Kagura' belongs
to the Chyouji-zaki group.