Thursday, November 21, 2013

It's a gas...............................plant!

Gasplants gone wild in Wisconsin (Sachtjen garden)
I know, I know...My silly titles. Full of pleonasm, paranomasia, and persistent and pestiferous be it! Life is too short to be too serious. Dictamnus is truly a gas to grow--although not always easy to find in nurseries: a dirty little secret I will share with you: it transplants rather easily despite what the literature says! Marlyn Sachtjen--an almost mythically ambitious gardener in Waunakee, Wisconsin--had it self sowing wildly throughout her garden.

At my old home (no longer mine, alas)
Above are a few of literally dozens of plants I had at our old house. My ex transplanted these from the first of three cutting gardens we once had at DBG when it was being torn up (it was a cutting garden, then Wildflower Treasures and now a large Potager)...they moved just fine. I dug up no end of seedlings here to share--and many went below...

at my NEW home (in high spring with roses)
Here's part of my NEW garden--the triangle bed in its full pink phase. Each spring I pot up dozens of seedlings which are ready to share in a month or so--or grow cheerfully through the summer to plant in the fall. This picture taken earlier this spring.

Same garden as the last, a few years earlier...
This picture was taken eight years ago: the bed was sparser. That peony on the far left was dug up (a pink form of Paeonia officinalis from Bluebird) to my chagrin....but has come back from the roots...worth a blog of its own!

At Eudora (the old place)...makes me very nostalgic...
This shows a single plant much better--the flowers remind me a bit of azaleas flowers. It's amazing what a range of soils and exposures this tolerates--from heavy clay or sandy soils that can be completely unwatered in our dry climate...but it thrives just as well in rich loam regularly watered--or here in a rock garden.

The albino at Quince (the new place)...
An evening shot of the pure white form is as lovely as the pink. I treasure my big husky plants out front--here you can see that the giant Reed grass (Arundo donax 'Variegata') is starting to come up: completely swamps this part of the garden by midsummer--but the gas plant doesn't seem to mind the competition at all.
Growing in a huge clump of Arundo donax 'Variegata'
Here a neighboring clump is shown in early morning light--combined with a wonderfully complementary clump of Clematis integrifolia--I'd love to pretend we planned this! This is probably a good place to mention that it's called gas plant because it produces a volatile oil you can ignite on a warm day that will envelope the whole plant in flames. One is also obligated to mention that this is in the Citrus family, and has a surprisingly strong citrus-like smell when brushed. Oh yes--it can produce dermatitis on some sensitive skins--so watch out (not on mine--I brush and handle it all through the season with no problems)
Dictamnus angustifolius in Kazakhstan
I was thrilled to find masses of Dictamnus throughout Kazakhstan--growing mostly on the dry, open steppe. It differs from the more Western Asian forms in subtle ways. Beaver Creek Greenhouose in British Columbia sells a Dictamnus alaicus which finally bloomed for me this year--looking almost exactly the same as this taxon.... Of course--as a collector, I need them ALL! And if you've read this far, you probably do as well...


  1. I keep waiting for someone to post a video of them lighting a plant.

  2. I think it's a great title! a perfect description in a few words ...
    I did not know that plant! and so ... I've never seen in nurseries, although in Catalonia there are varieties ... I'll have to take a trip to find seeds!
    Thanks for showing!

  3. I've actually always wanted some of these...but never see them for sale :-(

  4. Believe it or not,Susan, I took exactly such a video of Georg Uebelhardt lighting one of my gas plants in 2012--and can't for the life of me find it! If I do, I shall post it! Remind me next spring, Scott, and you can have all you want!


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