Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:41 pm
The meadowfoam not only forms a beautiful carpet of flowers, but is also a gift to the insect world. Learn how to plant and care for the perennial here.
Insect-friendly meadow foamwort
Meadowfoam is a native wild perennial in the crucifer family. From April to June, the plant forms a sea of white and pink flowers. These are very rich in nectar and pollen and therefore attract many insects. Key facts:
- The perennial feels especially at home in nutrient-rich wet meadows, in moist, sparse forests and in fens.
- Meadowfoam is also an enrichment for the garden, especially if you want to design it close to nature and insect-friendly. For example, you can use meadowfoam to create wildflower meadows or border natural ponds.
- The plant grows up to 50 centimeters high and is perennial.
- The perennial not only looks good in the garden, but also on the plate. It is related to watercress and is edible just like it. The slightly pungent and bitter taste of the leaves adds a fresh, tangy note to salads and cottage cheese. The edible flowers are suitable as an eye-catcher for topping various dishes.
- By the way, meadow foamwort is also called cuckoo flower. When larvae of the foam cicada suck the sap from the stem, they form a protective foam. In the past, it was believed that a cuckoo spat this onto the plant.
How to plant meadow foamwort
Meadowfoam likes a partial shade location best.
However, the perennial can also be planted in full sun if the soil always has enough moisture.
The soil should be moist and rich in nutrients for the meadowfoam. It does not matter whether it is rather loamy, i.e. heavy, or humusy, i.e. loose.
Especially in summer, you should make sure that the soil does not become dry, but at the same time, it should not become waterlogged.
The ideal time for planting the cuckoo flower is the mild autumn weeks. When planting, proceed like this:
- Loosen the soil thoroughly.
- Dig small pits at intervals of 20 to 30 centimeters. Their volume should be 50 percent larger than that of the root ball.
- Mix the excavated soil with some compost, bark humus or leaf mould.
- Place the root balls in a tub or large bucket filled with water and soak them in it.
- Place the root balls in the soil holes and fill them up with the enriched soil.
- Water the perennials properly.
- You can put a mulch layer of leaves, grass clippings or bark mulch around the perennials. This will make it easier for the plants to take root and prevent the soil from drying out should it continue to get very warm in the fall.
Meadowfoam usually spreads on its own. If you want to help, you can simply divide the rootstock of the plant and place the severed section in another suitable location. This should be done in late summer or fall.
How to care for meadowfoam
Meadowfoam doesn’t need much care. The most important measures are:
- Keep the soil constantly moist – you should pay particular attention to this in summer. However, avoid waterlogging.
- In spring (March is ideal) you can fertilize once with organic fertilizer (for example compost or horn shavings).
- The withered flower stems should be cut back.
- In autumn or late winter you should prune the plant close to the ground.
- In the year of planting, a light winter protection is useful: You can cover the young perennials with some autumn leaves and brushwood before the first frost.
Why you should give meadowfoam a place in your garden
Meadowfoam has been on the Red List of endangered plant species since 2006. Although meadowfoam can be found throughout Europe, large populations are becoming increasingly rare. This is all the more concerning in the context of insect mortality. The flowers of the wild perennial are rich in nectar and therefore serve as a food source for numerous insects, such as the aurora butterfly. Insects such as butterflies and wild bees are urgently dependent on such reliable and rich food sources, as well as on a near-natural habitat that has not yet been destroyed by humans.
Areas of meadowfoam and other wildflowers can create a habitat for insects that also provides them with food. In this way, you can effectively make a contribution against insect mortality.