I like magnificence in the garden. Either those plants which over-perform, or those which are so rare that they stop one in ones tracks, or those that garden designers call 'statement plants', and Crambe cordifolia is one such plant.
In flower it is unmistakable - one plant will cover itself with a frothy mass of foam-like flowers that look fragile and more like those of gypsophila, but with a sweetish perfume. Crambe cordifolia, explode into bloom in early June, when, if you are lucky enough, they shoot up enormous clouds of babies breath like blossoms that can reach six feet tall, and equally as wide.
If you have an exposed area of the garden where little else will grow consider Crambe. Being deep rooted, Crambe is very drought tolerant, but plants do not move once established, considering its ultimate volume it is vital to pick the right spot first time. Hardy to about -20°C (-4°F), the flowers are highly attractive to bees.
Crambe are all about stature. Plant them and stand well back.
Crambe cordifolia has justifiably been awarded the RHS Award of Garden Merit.
(I think it should have won at least two!)
Sowing: Sow at 15°C (59°F) in spring or autumn
Remove outer seed casing to speed up germination, sow in pots, trays, direct sow or into a nursery bed. Use well drained soil and sow seeds 12mm (½in) deep. Germination usually takes place in 3 to 5 weeks at 15°C (59°F) but can be slow and irregular and can take a few months. If sown indoors, prick out the seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle
Plant out into their permanent positions when about 10cm (4in) tall. Plant 75cm (30in) apart in rows 75cm (30in) apart. Provide a rich, deep and sandy soil and position in a place where it is exposed to at least a few hours of direct sunlight. Seakale is a close relative to Brassicas so avoid planting in soil infected with clubroot. Clear any dead or damaged foliage as required. Young plants are attractive to slugs so some protection may be needed. Plants can be cropped once they are more than 12 months old.
If plants are crowded out by nearby perennials, they often lag behind a few years, try and leave space between Crambe leaves and neighbouring plants.
Plants can be divided in spring or autumn. Dig up the root clump and cut off as many sections as you require, making sure they all have at least one growing point. The larger of these divisions can be planted out straight into their permanent positions, though small ones are best potted up and grown on in a cold frame until they are established.
The pods do not open to let the single seeds fall out, but drop off, and the seeds germinate around the parent plant. Any seedlings that appear may be moved while they are still small.
Architectural, Cottage/Informal, Flower Arranging, Beds and borders, Wildlife
Especially useful in dry, sunny sites, grow it alongside other maritime species.
Crambe cordifolia is an ornamental plant native to the Caucasus.
It is in the brassicaceae plant family and thus related to cabbage
The name Crambe, is from the ancient Greek Krambh, the name given for a cabbage like plant.
Cordifoilia from the Latin meaning with "heart-shaped leaves". It is sometimes called Heartleaf crambe for their leaf shape
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 seeds Family Brassicaceae Genus Crambe Species cordifolia Synonym Crambe glabrata DC Common Name Heartleaf crambe Other Common Names Sea Kale Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Sprays with hundreds of beautiful, tiny white flowers Natural Flower Time June to August. Foliage Large green heart-shaped leaves Height 200cm (72in) Spacing 150cm (60in) Position Full sun or part shade Soil Well-drained soil Harvest Shoots should be 15 to 23cm (6 to 9in) long when cut. Time to Sow Sow in autumn or in spring.