How to Grow and Care for Edelweiss Flower

Edelweiss plant with star-shaped white and green flower with yellow center

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Edelweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) is famous for its lance-shaped, wooly foliage and white, star-shaped flowers. These little flowers are naturally found growing in the high altitudes of the Alps and are accustomed to, rocky soil, cold temperatures, and high winds. Edelweiss is a slow-growing plant and will begin flowering in its second year of growth.

Common Name Edelweiss
Botanical Name Leontopodium alpinum
Family Asteraceae
Plant Type Perennial
Mature Size 6 to 12 inches tall, 8 inches wide
Sun Exposure Full to partial sun
Soil Type Well-drained, gritty soil
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time Late spring through summer
Flower Color White
Hardiness Zones 4-7, USDA
Native Area Steppe region of Asia

Edelweiss Care

Edelweiss flowers are a breeze to care for. Naturally found in harsh environments, these little flowers thrive in areas with cold temperatures and poor soil. They make excellent additions to rock gardens. They are deer resistant and are not affected by many pests or diseases.

Edelweiss plant with silvery-green lance-shaped leaves on stems

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Edelweiss plant with white star-shaped flowers and buds in pink pot

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Edelweiss plant with lance-shaped leaves on stems closeup

The Spruce / Evgeniya Vlasova

Edelweiss flowers (Leontopodium alpinum) in bloom


Krom1975 / Getty Images

Light

These wooly flowers do best in full sunshine. To mimic the native conditions in which they grow naturally, they can be grown underneath taller plants to benefit from a measure of protection from the elements and to receive dappled sunshine.

Soil

Well-draining soil is key to keeping edelweiss plants healthy, and they do well with typical rock garden soil. These plants do best with nearly neutral pH levels, between 6.5 and 7.5. When it comes to soil composition, a mix of compost, sand, grit, and peat moss is best for growing edelweiss flowers. These flowers also grow well in rocky, limestone soils and make great additions to rock gardens. 

Water

Edelweiss flowers do not require additional water once established. These fuzzy plants are naturally found in harsh, arid conditions. They cannot tolerate soggy soil and do better with underwatering rather than overwatering. During the first year of growth, water when the soil feels dry.  

Temperature and Humidity

Edelweiss plants are built to withstand the low temperature, high winds, and harsh climate of high altitudes. Wooly leaves help protect the plant from wind and rain. In fact, these flowers require cold temperatures to thrive and are grown in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 7. They do not grow well in hot, humid climates. 

Fertilizer

Because these plants are found in the poor, rocky soils of high altitudes, edelweiss rarely requires fertilizer and often does better without it.

Propagating Edelweiss Plants

Propagation can be done through division. This is best to do every few years, as edelweiss has a short life span. Division will keep edelweiss growing for years to come. To divide edelweiss, you will need a small shovel, a sharp pair of garden snips, and gloves: 

  1. In the spring, gently dig around the edelweiss to loosen its fibrous root system. 
  2. Once the roots can be lifted from the ground, remove the plant. 
  3. Using the shovel and the snips, cut through the root system to divide the plant. Be sure each division has healthy roots and healthy foliage. 
  4. Plant each division in a sunny area with well-draining soil.

How to Grow Edelweiss From Seed

Starting edelweiss from seed is very easy. If the seeds are started outdoors, sow them before the last frost in the spring to allow the seeds to go through a natural cold stratification. For seeds started indoors, place the seeds in soil inside a black plastic bag and place them in the refrigerator for three weeks. Then, follow these instructions: 

  1. Gently sow the seeds on the surface of well-draining soil. 
  2. Mist them gently. 
  3. Keep the seeds in a cool environment. Germination should occur in about two to six weeks.
  4. When seedlings appear, place them in a sunny location. 
  5. When they are large enough to handle, harden them off. Move them to the garden once they are acclimated to full sun.  

Potting and Repotting Edelweiss

These hardy plants grow very well in containers if they receive plenty of light and have very well-draining soil. The pot must have drainage holes that allow water to drain freely. Because edelweiss stays quite small and is a slow-grower, repotting is not often needed. When edelweiss outgrows its container, gently loosen the roots from the container until they slide out. Place the plant into a slightly larger container and cover the roots with well-draining soil.  

Overwintering

Edelweiss flowers are built for harsh environments and do not require much attention to survive a cold winter. They enjoy having a thick blanket of snow to protect them. Simply refrain from watering these plants and let the snow do the rest. If you don't expect a lot of snow during the winter months, add a layer of mulch around the plant in the late fall to mimic the insulating protection of snow. When spring arrives, move aside the mulch to allow new growth to appear.  

How to Get Edelweiss to Bloom

Edelweiss flowers are famous for their fuzzy, star-like appearance. The showier white petals are actually a different form of leaf, while the unassuming yellow centers are the actual flowers. These appear in their second year of growth. 

Edelweiss will flower for a few years, but then must be divided to extend the plant's life. These divisions will then produce more flowers. Deadheading is not necessary, but it can help keep the plant looking neat and clean. Deadheading will prevent the plant from self-seeding.   

Common Problems With Edelweiss

Edelweiss is a very hardy plant that does not struggle with many pests, diseases, or problems. The biggest issue these tough flowers face is crown rot. Let’s take a closer look at this problem. 

Discoloration Near the Crown and Wilting Foliage

Crown rot is a common ailment of edelweiss and is caused by overly moist, heavy soil conditions. The crown of the plant might appear rotted or discolored and the foliage will begin to wilt. Sadly, there isn’t much to be done for a plant showing signs of advanced crown rot. Remove the plant promptly to prevent the disease from spreading to the surrounding plants. Remove any fallen foliage and clean the area thoroughly. Amend the soil with sand or gravel to encourage proper drainage. Try applying a fungicide to control the disease. To prevent this from occurring, make sure the soil drains well. Water plants early in the day to allow adequate time for the foliage to dry. 

FAQ
  • What does edelweiss symbolize?

    The name “edelweiss” means “noble” and “white” in German. This famous flower has come to symbolize nobleness and purity and is associated with the beautiful Alps.

  • Where can edelweiss grow?

    Although edelweiss is known as an alpine perennial high in the Alps, this hardy flower can be grown in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 7. They make wonderful additions to rock gardens, adding a rugged, wild feel to your backyard.

  • How long does it take to grow edelweiss?

    Edelweiss seeds will germinate in around two to six weeks. They are slow growers and will flower during the second year of growth.