Sanguisorbas are the height of fashion right now, and deservedly so, for they provide flowing movement and have an elegant willowy presence. These vogue plants fit into the new wave of naturalistic planting well. They have finely toothed pinnate foliage, above which long-lasting flowers hold themselves high on wiry stems. They associate brilliantly with equally tall, airy grasses, flat headed daisies and the spired and whorled verticals.
The modern style involves close-knit planting that does not need staking. Sanguisorbas can be left to fade decadently into winter before being cut down in spring. Suspended on swaying stems, the intricate forms catch the frost brilliantly, and giving six months of garden value.
This Japanese species of Burnet has infiltrated our psyche and somehow manipulated us so that we can find no fault with this most refined of perennials. Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’ is a slender plant with an erect presence and narrow serrated foliage.
They flower in the first half of summer and are mainly wind pollinated. Growing 90cm to 120cm (36 to 48in) tall, the slender, catkin-like flowers wave about in the slightest breeze.
Softened by fluffy stamens, these highly tactile flowers float like dainty ghosts on the tips of their slender stems.
Sowing: Sow in either in spring or autumn.
Sanguisorba seeds are best sown in a cold frame either in spring or autumn. It usually takes about two months for the seeds to germinate at 10 to 14°C (50 to 55°F). When the seedlings have grown sufficiently enough to be handled, pick them out individually and plant them in separate pots to grow on. Transplant the young plants in their permanent positions outdoors as soon as they have grown to a reasonable size. Set out in early spring or early autumn, three to five plants per square metre and water spring plantings regularly if rain is lacking. Alternately, the seeds may also be sown in situ during the early part of spring.
Sanguisorba prefer to grow in a sunny part of the garden, though in hot areas it may be better to grow in a part of the garden that receives a light shade in the afternoon.
Ideally the soil that plants grow in will be moist, pH 6 to 8, and of an ordinary nature. A site where the soil stays evenly moist is ideal as too-dry conditions can lead to leaf browning.
Although they look delicate, Sanguisorba are quite sturdy and once growing they are fairly easy to care for. Very hardy they are able to endure temperatures around minus 25°C (-13°F). The plants succeed in a position in full sun or in partial shade. They prefer a position with moist soil which does not become parched during the summer. Keep plants, especially spring plantings, well watered when summers are hot.
Supply a stake in windy areas and cut back leaves frequently to encourage further growth.
Keep watering spring plantings regularly if rain is lacking. Established burnets also benefit from watering during dry spells. In early spring apply a generous layer of mulch, remember to do this early in the year as some species may be in bloom by late spring.
Most varieties of Sanguisorba continue flowering into early autumn, at least, and their foliage often takes on bright colours as temperatures cool. Snipping off the spent flower stalks at the base of the plant prevents self-sowing and may extend the bloom season. Or, consider leaving them in place, because the seed heads have the same interesting form as when in bloom, and those on dark-flowered species retain the deep red colour for many weeks.
Once frost turns the plants brown, you can cut them down any time. Scatter a general-purpose organic fertiliser or a shovelful of compost around each clump in late fall to late winter.
Burnets may take a few years to settle in, but after that, they start creeping outward, but only at a moderate rate. They usually need division only every 4 to 6 years, but you can divide them more often if you wish to slow their spread or propagate by division.
Move or divide existing clumps in early spring and space them about 260cm (24in) apart. You can also move or divide existing clumps in autumn too, if you don’t mind cutting short the autumn display. Water new plantings regularly for the first month or so if rain is lacking
Perennial Borders, Naturalistic planting schemes, Flower arrangements, Low Maintenance, Medicinal and Edible Herb.
Sanguisorba tenuifolia is native to parts of north east of Asia. China, Mongolia, Japan and Korea.
Sanguisorba is a genus of about 30 species of flowering plants in the family Rosaceae, although by simply looking at the flowers you wouldn't guess, it is related to the strawberry and the rose.
Alaskan burnet is usually in full flower through early summer. Japanese Burnet and Great Burnet generally start in midsummer; Oriental Burnet and Canadian Burnet usually begin in late summer.
The genus name sanguisorba comes from the Latin sanguis meaning 'blood', and sorbere, 'to soak up', from the reputed power of these plants to stop bleeding.
The species name tenuifolia means 'with finely-divided, slender leaves'.
The word 'alba' refers to the white colour of the flowers. It derives from the Latin word album for a ‘writing tablet’ now used to mean ‘white’ in reference to the tablets historically being white.
Common names include Japanese Burnet and Oriental Burnet.
The word Burnet is from Middle English, from Medieval Latin burneta, from Old French brunete, meaning dark brown, also a diminutive of brun of Germanic origin also meaning brown. The names derive from the dark hue of the species plant's flowers.
- Additional Information
Average Seed Count 25 Seeds Family Rosaceae Genus Sanguisorba Species tenuifolia Cultivar Alba Common Name Japanese Burnet, Oriental Burnet Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to minus 25°C (-13°F) Natural Flower Time June to July Height Growing 90cm to 120cm (36 to 48in) Spacing Three to five plants per square metre