Growing and Caring for Wallflower Plants

Wallflowers are Colorful, Fragrant, and Easy-to-Grow

A photo of Erysimum flowers (also called wallflowers) in a variety of colors planted outdoors.

 Imagesines / Getty Images

Wallflowers are attractive, fragrant, easy to grow, and make great additions to any rock garden, border garden, or container garden. They bloom nearly year-round, sporting beautiful four-petalled flowers in colors such as yellow, orange, red, blue, and purple. Most wallflower varieties grow as shrubs, but there are some ground-cover species as well. 

Botanical Name Erysimum
Common Name Wallflower
Plant Type Perennial, annual
Mature Size 1 to 3 feet tall
Sun Exposure Full sun, part sun
Soil Type Sandy, well-drained
Soil pH 7.0 to 9.0
Bloom Time Spring, summer, fall
Flower Color Yellow, orange, purple, pink, blue
Hardiness Zones 6, 7, 8, 9
Native Area Southern Europe
Image of purple Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve' flowers.
Erysimum 'Bowles's Mauve'.  Mtreasure / Getty Images

How to Grow Wallflower Plants

Wallflowers (Erysimum) are a part of the cabbage family, Brassicaceae, which makes them closely related to popular cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, turnips, cabbage, and more. They are generally low-maintenance, easy-to-grow plants that are frequently used in rock gardens, as bordering plants, and in container gardens. Depending on the variety, wallflowers are annuals, herbaceous perennials, or biennials.

Light

Wallflowers should be grown in a bright, sunny location. While they can tolerate part shade they will thrive in full sun. Gardeners in northern climates should choose locations that receive direct sun, whereas gardeners in southern climates should choose locations that receive some shade to give the wallflowers a break from the intense southern rays. 

Soil

Well-drained, dry to medium soils are ideal for wallflowers. In fact, wallflowers got their name because they were often found growing in the silty mortar between rocks and bricks on the sides of walls. Planting wallflowers in soil that holds too much moisture will cause them to drown and die quickly.   

Water

Wallflowers are considered drought-tolerant, and as such, they do not require too much water. Water wallflowers regularly as they are becoming established, and then cut back once they have matured. If needed, supplement infrequent rainfall with occasional watering.

Temperature and Humidity

Wallflowers require warm temperatures in order to grow evergreen. They are hardy in US zones 6, 7, 8, and 9, but can overwinter in areas with colder climates as well. 

Wallflowers are very adaptable and can tolerate both dry and moist growing conditions. However, they do not tolerate ‘wet feet,’ or having their roots sit in standing water, so avoid planting wallflowers in particularly wet areas of your garden. 

Fertilizer

Wallflowers do not require a lot of fertilizer to thrive. For best results, mix compost into the soil when you are first planting and apply an all-purpose fertilizer in the early spring and mid-summer.

Propagating

Wallflowers can be propagated through seeds and through cuttings. Some wallflower species will reseed themselves, but most varieties will need to be manually re-sown (see “Growing from Seeds” below). To propagate wallflowers through cuttings, take cuttings in the late spring - ensuring that each cutting has at least one leaf node. Remove all flowers and flower buds from the cutting and leave only 3-4 leaves. For best results, dip the cutting in a rooting hormone before planting back in soil or compost.

Varieties of Wallflower Plants

There are over 150 different species of wallflowers. Some of the most popular varieties include:

  • Bowles’s Mauve (Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’)
  • Apricot Delight (Erysimum ‘Apricot Delight’)
  • Winter Orchid (Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’)
  • Walberton’s Fragrant Sunshine (Erysimum ‘Fragrant Sunshine’)
  • Red Jep (Erysimum ‘Red Jep’)

Pruning

Regular pruning will help wallflowers to thrive. Wallflowers should be cut back once they have finished blooming, or in the early spring. Prune them back so there is only a couple of inches left above the soil and they will reward you with dense new growth once temperatures warm up again.

Growing Tip

Dead-heading is important for keeping wallflowers healthy and full looking. To encourage ongoing blooming, pinch back spent blooms regularly.

Being Grown in Containers

Wallflowers make excellent container plants as they are low-maintenance and don’t require too much water. Ensure your container has adequate drainage so the wallflowers do not drown as they do not tolerate having their roots sit in water. Pair wallflowers with plants such as daffodils and tulips in container gardens as they flower at the same time. Growing wallflowers in containers is great for gardeners in colder regions as they can easily be brought indoors for the winter. 

Growing From Seeds

To grow wallflowers from seed, sow the seeds directly into the garden or start them indoors depending on your preference. Wallflower seeds should be planted in the early spring or late autumn. They require light to germinate so if you are starting the seeds indoors be sure to provide adequate light for germination. Wallflower seeds can be surface sowed and covered with about 0.5cm of topsoil. If you are starting seeds indoors, wallflowers transplant well once established. 

Common Pests/Diseases

As a part of the Brassicaceae family, wallflowers are susceptible to a host of common garden pests just like their vegetable cousins. These include flea beetles, aphids, and cabbage worms. However, wallflowers are better suited to dry growing conditions than their Brassicaceae relatives, which inadvertently helps to prevent pest infestations. Another way to prevent infestations and diseases in wallflowers is to ensure that you are not planting wallflowers in a garden bed or container that has recently grown other Brassicaceae species as pathogens may remain in the soil from the previous plant.