Linaria purpurea

Pink form of Linaria purpurea

This is a slender, short-lived perennial plant, sometimes known as purple toadflax, which comes from Italy. It belongs to the Plantaginaceae family. It has stems covered with fine, blue-grey linear leaves and its dainty flowers are held in slim spires (ht 70 - 90 cm) and resemble tiny snapdragons. I originally grew some specimens from seed labelled as 'Canon J Went', a desirable soft pink cultivar, but over the years, those plants self-seeded throughout my garden and now I have them coming up in colours of purple, pink and white. All are lovely.

Linaria purpurea

The plant seems to like a dryish, well-drained soil in full sun. They tolerate heat and drought quite well so can grow alongside other Mediterranean plants that grow in Sydney. I have some that have literally grown on the top of brick walls and flowered cheerfully. I find they last for a one or two years then get a bit woody, or die off suddenly during very humid periods in summer But by then they have shed many seeds, which will germinate in the following spring, so it is no loss to pull the mother plant out. It is quite easy to transplant the seedlings when they are young. This species does not run at the root like some other forms of Linaria.

White Linaria purpurea in the garden of Belinda and Richard Pegg, Sydney

The flowers begin in late spring and continue all through summer and even into autumn. The plants provide a softening haze in my perennial borders and take up little space. I cut them back by about half occasionally through the warmer months to promote more flowers. This is one of the English-y cottage plants which I would never want to be without.

Flowers in January, February, March, April, May, October, November, December.