Caltha palustris

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Robert Pavlis

Caltha palustris may be a common plant but each spring it becomes a star in the garden for about 3 weeks. It has been in my garden for over 10 years, never gets any maintenance, never has pest or disease problems and it flowers like crazy. How many garden plants can match these qualities?

Caltha palustris: photo Photo by Robert Pavlis
Caltha palustris: photo Photo by Robert Pavlis

The marsh marigold likes to sit in water, or at least have wet soil in spring. If things get too hot or dry in late summer it will die back. It is perfectly suited to the shallow edge of a pond or waterfall as shown in these pictures. It is such a great plant that the Royal Horticulture Society has given it their prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).

Other common names include kingcup, mayflower, May blobs, mollyblobs, pollyblobs, horse blob, water blob, water bubles, gollins, and publican. Although it is called a marigold, it belongs to the buttercup family is unrelated to the aster family.

Caltha palustris: photo Photo by Robert Pavlis
Caltha palustris: photo Photo by Robert Pavlis

If the plain, single yellow one is too common for you to grow, it is also available as Caltha palustris var. alba and Caltha palustris ‘Floro Pleno’, a double form.

Food Science for Gardeners, by Robert Pavlis
Caltha palustris: photo Photo by Robert Pavlis
Caltha palustris: photo Photo by Robert Pavlis

Caltha palustris

(KAL-tha  pal-US-triss)

Life Cycle: perennial

Height: 25cm (10in)

Bloom Time: spring

Natural Range: Northern temperate regions

Habitat: sunny pond edges, river banks and ditches

Synonyms:  NA

Cultivation of Caltha palustris:

Light: sun to part shade in hotter climates

Soil: variable

Water: wet to standing water

USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 –11

Propagation: seed, division

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Robert Pavlis

I have been gardening my whole life and have a science background. Besides writing and speaking about gardening, I own and operate a 6 acre private garden called Aspen Grove Gardens which now has over 3,000 perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees. Yes--I am a plantaholic!

3 thoughts on “Caltha palustris”

  1. We have one of these old faithfuls in our pond on a shelf and have had it for ten years. It is the first pond plant to burst into colour in the spring. I tidy it up a bit after the flowers fade and often get a second flush in the fall.

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