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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

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New potentillas - 17 years in the making

Posted by Graham Rice on 27 Mar 2009 at 02:24 PM

The April issue of The Garden has probably just dropped through your letter box and as it includes my article on potentillas, hardy perennial potentillas that is, this seems to be a great time to mention two new varieties. In fact they're both too new to be in the 2009/2010 edition of the RHS Plant Finder (which I'll be discussing here next time).

So... Potentilla ‘Golden Starlit and ‘Scarlet Starlit'. Both these are forms of the old favourite Potentilla atrosanguinea var. argyrophylla and there are two good things about these two new plants. They're dwarf, but so short as to be unnaturally dumpy. The breeder says 30cm (12in ), I'd say allow 38cm (15in).  The foliage has an attractive silver sheen as a result of a fine coating of silver hairs.

And then there are the flowers - bright yellow and bright scarlet - in June and July and in very generous numbers.

Plant breeder Georg Uebelhart of Jelitto Seeds, who raised these varieties, explained how these two new plants came about. He started as long ago as 1992 by collecting as many different forms of Potentilla atrosanguinea and its variety var. argyrophylla as he could.

"The botanical identity of a large number of the individual plants were not correct," he said, "with many of the good forms labeled P. atrosanguinea turning out to be var. argyrophylla or other varieties.

"We wanted a short form of P. atrosanguinea with silver grey leaves," he said, "and in 1996 we started doing a large number of controlled crosses. This resulted good lines of two pure colours (red and yellow) with short habit and silver grey leaves. In 2005 we went into seed production and after retesting we were able to introduce 'Scarlet Starlit' and 'Golden Starlit'."

It just shows how many years go into producing good new varieties and these look to be two excellent new dwarf perennials which could even be grown in large containers.

Name note: These two plants were originally called ‘Yellow Starlet' and ‘Scarlet Starlet' (you may still come across those names) but the names had to be changed to avoid confusion with another plant.

You can buy plants of Potentilla ‘Golden Starlit and Potentilla ‘Scarlet Starlit' from D'Arcy & Everest (choose I-P and scroll down)



Foxnfirefly said:

I will get my copy soon!!  Those are very colurful garden plants.  I was looking for such fare to use in a late summer,hot colour border.  

on 31 Mar 2009 at 02:27 AM

Graham Rice said:

Yes, colourful is exactly what they are... and unlike older varieties the flowering stems don't lean over into their neighbours.

on 01 Apr 2009 at 07:07 PM

Rodja said:

Hi Graham, enjoyed your Potentilla article in the RHS 'The Garden', but sorry to see no mention of the two double flowers ones I like; P. Arc-en-ciel & P. Monsieur Rouillard, I realise neither have AGM's.Looking forward to seeing the two new ones abovementioned.

on 17 Apr 2009 at 02:13 AM