About Scarlet Pimpernel: Readers of classic literature will recognize this flower from Baroness Orczy's historical novel The Scarlet Pimpernel, in which this humble wayside flower was the symbol and code name of the heroic Sir Percy Blakeney. This low-growing plant grows prolifically along the roadsides and meadows of the United Kingdom, and has spread to nearly every temperate region on the globe. Eighteenth century doctors often used the dried leaves of this plant for the treatment of epilepsy, mental problems, or rabies; since the plant can be highly toxic, medicinal use is no longer recommended. Renowned men of science such as Henslow and Darwin researched this plant extensively, fascinated by the wide variation in the color of the flowers. Because of this flower's habit of closing at dusk and before stormy weather, it has also been called Poor Man's Barometer. The abundant red flowers also remain closed in cloudy weather, opening only to the the sun.
Scarlet Pimpernel Germination: Scarlet Pimpernel does not transplant well, and should be direct sown for best results. In fall or early spring, direct sow groups of 2-3 seeds 10-12" apart. Cover very lightly, since light is required for germination. These seeds germinate at temperatures from 55-70 degrees F, sprouting in 30 to 45 days. Scarlet Pimpernel grows best in full sun and sandy or rocky soil, but adapts to well-drained soil.
Growing Scarlet Pimpernel Seeds: Keep seedlings watered until they become established; mature plants only need water in drought conditions. Though not invasive, this plant will reseed itself and spread to form a ground cover. Volunteer plants can easily be removed if they are unwanted. This plant also grows well as a long blooming container plant or a ground cover. Deer resistant.
Harvesting Scarlet Pimpernel: Scarlet Pimpernel can be toxic even in small amounts, and is not recommended for medicinal or culinary use.
Saving Scarlet Pimpernel Seeds: These plants produce seed for most of the summer, since they bloom from spring to fall. When the flowers fade, seed pods will form. Since the pods split and drop their seeds when completely ripe, the pods should be gathered individually as soon as they begin to dry. Before harvesting, check the pods to make sure the seeds have reached their mature dark brown or black color. Spread the seed pods out to finish drying away from direct sunlight; thresh them to remove the seed. Store the seed in a cool, dry place for 8 years.
Detailed Scarlet Pimpernel Info: Origin: Europe Other Common Names: Red Pimpernel, Red Chickweed, Poor Man's Barometer, Poor Man's Weather-Glass, Shepherd's Weather Glass, Shepherd's Clock, Shepherd's Joy, Adders Eyes Duration: Annual Bloom Time: Early Summer-Fall Height: 4-6 inches Spacing: 10-12 inches Light: Full Sun Soil Moisture: Medium USDA Zone: 5a-10b Seeds Per Oz: - Produces abundant oval green leaves and 1/4" five petaled flowers, ranging in color from red/orange to pink or white.