Kolkwitzia:the flower of maternal tenderness

It is not easy to try to beautify your garden or terrace without running into the “usual” plants. The suggestion is to include in the project one or more plants of Kolkwitzia amabilis, wonderful on the ground, in large pots and as an unusual fence hedge. Kolkwitzia (scientific name Linnaea amabilis) comes from China and is a perennial deciduous shrub that is part of the Caprifoliaceae family.
Kolkwitzia amabilis has medium size (2-3 m high) and usually has a rounded shape. Its showy and abundant flowering occurs in May or June (depending on the climatic bands) and lasts a few weeks. The flowers are grouped in clusters and are shaped like small funnels, white or pale pink with a golden yellow central part. The stem is short and very branched.
The leaves, with slightly wavy margins, are dark green on the upper page and lighter on the lower one and, in autumn, before the fall they become golden-yellow.
The cultivation of Kolkwitzia is quite simple: the shrub is planted in October-November or in March in well-drained soil, rich in organic matter and clay. It is therefore necessary to treat the soil in advance by adding universal soil, sand and a little organic fertilizer or humus. Its best exposure is in full sun or partially in shade and sheltered from the wind which can cause weakening to the point of compromising the health of the plant. Kolkwitzia does not fear low temperatures, on the contrary, its cultivation can take place in areas with a harsh winter climate.
During the juvenile phase the plants require frequent, but not too abundant watering to keep the soil moist; during flowering the plants need regular watering, while during the rest of the growing season watering must be more sporadic. Fertilization can be slow-release, that is, using granular fertilizer every 3-4 months or using manure at the end of winter.
In spring it prefers fertilizers rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to favor the new vegetation of flowers. In order to maintain a harmoniously shaped shrub every year, a deep pruning of about one third of the length of the stems is useful after flowering. The multiplication can be done by division of the tufts or by cutting. The division of the tufts, to be carried out in autumn, allows to multiply the perennials into already autonomous plants. Bushes with well-developed roots are divided and buried in pots at the time of collection using a substrate of peat and sand. After about a year, these new plants can be planted in their final position, be it on the ground or in a larger pot. Instead, in summer (July or August), using very sharp and disinfected shears, 15-20 cm cuttings can be taken.
They are obtained from the lateral branches that have not produced flowers and are planted in a substrate of peat mixed with sand; after the formation of the roots, the cuttings are transplanted in the nursery and the cultivation lasts over a year before being planted (October). Kolkwitzia is a decidedly robust shrub, but it can be attacked by fungal diseases such as white sickness, typical of areas with high humidity. It is necessary to take action to avoid water stagnation, while more targeted treatments of pesticides or antifungals are to be carried out only in case of need.
In the language of flowers, Kolkwitzia symbolizes maternal tenderness and the sweetness of youth. The British call this “beauty bush” for its beauty and elegance. Its scent is rather light, but it is curious how on rainy days it gives off a clear fragrance of spices.

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