Winter Aconites-The Bulb That Keeps Giving

Winter Aconites will push up through snow
Winter Aconites will push up through snow

Sunny yellow blooms fringed with a green ruff green poking through snow is my first sign that spring has sprung. Eranthis hyamalis, in the buttercup family, is a spring ephemeral, which means that it is a short-lived plant above ground with a burst of blooms, and then disappears, remaining under ground until next winter. The plant takes advantage of the deciduous woodland canopy, flowering at the time of maximum sunlight reaching the forest floor, then completely dying back to its underground tuber after flowering. So, for about 8 weeks starting in late February, I see the plant above ground, celebrate its arrival and the bees devour it! Flowering when little else is in bloom, the blossom is a very important nectar and pollen source for my honeybees. On a nice sunny day above 45 degrees in late winter, the bees are darting in and out of the blossoms, quickly taking advantage of the brief show of color.

Winter Aconites have a pretty green ruff surrounding the flower
Winter Aconites have a pretty green ruff surrounding the flower

Hard to start with dried corms which are a form of bulb, the plant is much easier to establish with “green” transplants. Know someone with a nice spread of these flowers? Then, bring your friend a gift and take some home for your own starters. I have often transplanted my plants to new locations so that the sunny yellow flowers are popping up all over my property.

Bees flock to the early offerings of nectar and pollen
Bees flock to the early offerings of nectar and pollen

I started my Winter Aconites with the tubers which resemble a dried pea by planting them one to two inches deep and waiting to see how many emerged. Only about 25% of the corms sprouted but that was enough to start my stock going for years to come as they will seed in. I have read that the little flowers can become invasive by reseeding in odd places, but I welcome all comers!  Such a cheerful little flower that is attractive to all pollinators is welcome in my garden anytime. A good companion to Snowdrops, Winter Aconites will live for years without any disturbance. The flowers push up through a stand of Germander and other thick ground covers and stick around for weeks, opening when the sun comes out, and closing when nightfall comes.

Snowdrops are good companion plantings
Snowdrops are good companion plantings

3 Replies to “Winter Aconites-The Bulb That Keeps Giving”

  1. Hi Claire,

    I love the photo of your bees mobbing the winter aconite. What’s that crinkled little purple leaf coming up to join them?

    Connie Keep calm and plant trees 🌳

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  2. Claire, thanks so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge. Don’t know when you find the time, but it is appreciated.

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