About Edelweiss Flowers
When most American people think about Edelweiss, the first thing that comes to mind is the song that is sung in The Sound of Music, but little do people know that there is a romantic story behind this flower.
Edelweiss flowers can be found growing in Germany in areas at altitudes of at least 5,600 feet on up to around 9,000 feet. They are a protected plant in several countries, including Poland, Serbia, Austria, Italy and Germany. Edelweiss grows well in light soil that have good drainage. They grow best in areas with a Southern exposure.
If you translate the word "Edelweiss", it means "noble" and "white". So where did it get its name? Well, in the good old days, men would venture out into the alps to collect these flowers for their loved ones. Edelweiss was not always easy to get to, and sometimes these men would fall from icy ledges and snowy peaks. It was not uncommon to hear of men falling to their death trying to collect these beautiful flowers. If you were successful and able to bring these flowers home to your loved one, you were considered a brave man as well as one that risked his life to prove his love. This is the reason today that German men will proudley wear this flower. Unlike here in the United States, where wearing something flowered is considered unmanley, wearing this flower in Germany was like a wearing a medal of honor!
Aside from the notoriety of this flower, it was also considered the "flower of emperors and kings". Some of the famous people that loved this flower was Austrian Emperor Franz Josef, Empress Elizabeth, German Kaiser Wilhelm I and also probably more well known was King Ludwig II of Bavaria (the king who built the famous Neuschwanstein Castle).
Most people may think that the Edelweiss flower is actually a flower, but in reality, it is not. They do not produce blossoms. Their petals are actually leaves that have a soft fine furry hair covering - and white with a light tinge of green. The center of this plant is yellow from pollen dust.
To this day, Edelweiss is considered an image of purity and lasting love. They are still popular today in German weddings and are found printed on clothing, pins, cards and several other types of German souvenirs. They are also used in teas and the extract is used in making cosmetics and skin care products. The extract from Edelweiss is considered a high end product because it has the ability to neutralize free radicals and slows down the oxides in the aging process of skin. The bio-flavonoids in Edelweiss also can strengthen the walls of blood vessels which helps in the treatment of vascular problems.
Overall, Edelweiss has many benefits, but most of all, and what will always remain, is the fact that Edelweiss is a representation of love, purity and nobility.
How to Grow Edelweiss in Your Garden
Edelweiss is a perennial and a cold hardy plant that will grow in growing zones 2 through 7 in the United States. They will grow well from seed and prefer either full or partial sun. They do however need a period of cold weather before germinating. Once bloomed, they tend to look best growing around rocks.
The best way to grow Edelweiss from seed is to plant in late fall or early spring with peat moss and composted manure. You can add a bit of lime if you like. Mix these ingredients into the top 8 inches or so of soil.
Sprinkle the seeds on the top of the soil and water. Be careful that you don't have the spray nozzle set to spray hard so that you don't wash the seeds away.
Keep the soil moist, just enough to germinate the seeds (takes about two weeks). Keep watered but do not saturate. In the fall, cover the plants with some mulch and remove the mulch in the spring. They will bloom in June and July of the second season.