Of all garden Potentillas, this must surely be one of the most attractive. Potentilla ‘Monarch’s Velvet’ is a truly regal plant, with velvet crimson-red flowers above strawberry like foliage. Flowering over a long period, it has an upright, rather than carpeting, habit so is useful in the mid-border.
Monarch’s Velvet is a stable cultivar that grows true from seed, is extremely cold-hardy to minus 29°C (-20°F) and is evergreen through the winter. If started early it is apt to bloom its first year. Easy, pest and disease resistant, they will repeat flower if cut back regularly.
Potentillas are excellent filler-plants, they that hold their own without displacing surrounding perennials. They are fine border plants and useful for containers or hanging baskets and look good in a sunny cottage garden border, raised bed or border.
Sowing:Sow late summer to autumn or late winter to late spring
Seed sown early will often produce flowers the same season.
Sow seed on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays. Just cover the seed with a light sprinkling of compost or vermiculite. Keep at a temperature of between 18 to 22°C (65 to 70°F)
Keep the surface of the compost moist but not waterlogged; water from beneath the tray, never directly onto the seeds. Sealing the container inside a polythene bag after sowing is beneficial. Germination should be between 14 to 30 days
When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into 7.5cm (3in) pots. Gradually acclimatise to outdoor conditions for 10 to 15 days before planting out after all risk of frost, 38cm (15in) apart. Provide any ordinary, well-drained soil in full sun.
Although drought-hardy when established, to bloom its best it should have moderate watering during the summer months. Seasonal fertilizing with an evergreen fertilizer isn't essential, but can benefit especially a clump that is in a crowded perennial garden.
The main flowering period is June, July and August and it usually continues to first frosts. If at any point it stops flowering, cut the stems back to get a second flush of leaves and buds. It might die back naturally at the end of the season otherwise cut back stems that remain to ground level in spring.
Potentilla is a long-lived plant that can be divided every three years or so, in spring.
Cottage/Informal Garden, Flower Borders and Beds
The species Potentilla thurberi is native to high elevations in the American Southwest, native to the coniferous forests, stream banks and moist meadows in Arizona, New Mexico and northern Mexico. The cultivar 'Monarch's Velvet' is a softer & much deeper red than for the species, with a velvety maroon heart. To get the increased colour it was apparently pollinated with a hybridized Himalayan P. atrosanguinea x nepalensis.
The genus name has its origin is the French ‘potence’ meaning ‘potent’ (strong, powerful or mighty). The origin of these words is the Latin potens, which has the same meaning. Historically it was believed to be a potent medicinal plant.
The species thurberi, are commonly called red cinquefoil, scarlet cinquefoil or Thurber’s cinquefoil.
It has a five-fingered arrangement of leaves, to which the name ‘cinquefoil’, meaning ‘five-leaf’ alludes.
The species name ‘thurberi’ is for Dr. George Thurber (1821-1890), called 'the most accomplished horticulturist in America', and botanist and quartermaster of the Mexican Boundary Survey, 1850-1854. Dr. Thurber was professor of botany and horticulture at Michigan Agricultural College 1859-1863 and editor of the American Agriculturalist for 22 years, from 1863 until his death in 1890.
Dr. Thurber was particularly distinguished among botanists for his knowledge of grasses. His name designates several species of plants from the west and southwest. (ref. Centrostegia thurberi, Eriogonum thurberi, Lepidium thurberi, Penstemon thurberi, Petalonyx thurberi, Pilostyles thurberi)
As an Emblem
In heraldry and in architecture, the cinquefoil emblem or 'potentilla' signified strength, power, honour and loyalty.
Depiction of the five-petalled flower appears as early as 1033, in the architecture of the church built in the village of Reulle-Vergy (Burgundy, France), two years before the reign of William the Conqueror.
From the 11th to 14th century, the word 'potence', related to Potentilla, as above, was used mainly in a military context and to describe the condition of the soul. During the time of William the Conqueror, the potentilla was used as an emblem on the coat of arms of Bardolph of Bretagne, who in 1066 was the master of the William's military engineer corps.
Other commonly used flower-like charges (called 'foils') include:-
• trefoil (with three petals),
• quatrefoil (with four petals),
• cinquefoil (with five petals),
• sexfoil (with six petals);
• The septfoil (with seven petals) appears in the arms of the 63rd Armor of the United States Army.
• The double quatrefoil (with eight petals) is in England the seldom if ever seen cadency mark of the ninth son.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 17 mg Average Seed Count 50 Seeds Family Rosaceae Genus Potentilla Species thurberi amorubens Cultivar Monarchs Velvet Common Name Cinquefoil Hardiness Hardy Perennial Hardy Hardy to minus 29°C (-20°F) Flowers Velvet crimson-red flowers Natural Flower Time June to August Foliage Serrated edged strawberry-like leaves Height 60-90cm (24-36in) Spread 60cm (24in) Position Full Sun Soil Prefers well drained / light soil Time to Sow Sow in late winter/late spring or late summer/autumn. Germination 14 to 30 days