Bupleurum will bloom from summer until killed by hard frost in the fall

February 26, 2020

Because the English saw the Dutch as enemies for so long, many times the word Dutch in English is used as a put-down. So “Dutch courage” is someone acting brave only when intoxicated, and “Dutch treat” means no treat at all as each person pays his own way.

Even a “Dutch uncle” is a kindly friend who gives loving but stern advice. The Dutch gave us many things, not the least tulips and fresh flowers. Even today the Aalsmeer Flower Auction auctions 20 million flowers every day.

But it is how they are sold that is so unusual: Instead of buyers bidding prices up the auctioneer sets a high price and then lowers it until someone bids that price, ending the auction. This Dutch auction goes back to the 17th-century Dutch flower market.

One of the most expensive flowers at auction is not tulips or even roses, but often a graceful bouquet filler with tiny chartreuse blooms atop long, wiry stems.

The oddly named Bupleurum blossom also dries into a long lasting flower. Sometimes called “hare’s ear” or “thoroughwax,” Bupleurum (scientific name Bupleurum griffithii) mixes well with other flowers in the garden.

The heavily branched flowers will grow 24-30 inches tall and last up to a week as cut flowers. Because every stem spreads out in a fan shape, a single stem provides an airy backdrop for an entire bouquet.

This is one hardy annual that can actually be sown directly in the garden as soon as you can dig the soil. In fact it is best to direct seed Bupleurum rather than start it indoors and transplant.

These are easy-to-grow plants that do best in average, well-drained soil. Choose a spot in full sun or partial shade.

Seeds are often available at local nurseries and garden centers or from mail order seed houses such as Johnny’s Seeds (, phone 877-564-6697) or Harris Seeds ( or phone 800-544-7938).

While it is easy to grow, Bupleurum is often slow to germinate, taking up to three weeks to sprout.

The trick is that the seeds need light to germinate, so water the bed first then scatter seeds and gently push them into the soil, being careful that no more than a quarter-inch of soil tops each seed.

Keep the seedbed moist but not soggy. Thin the plants to stand 10 inches apart when the first true leaves appear.

Cut flowers for bouquets when the flower heads just begin to show color. For dried arrangements, cut the blossoms after they have completely opened and hang them out of direct sunlight in an airy space such as a patio or porch.

Because these flowers grow in a compact, dense habit they mix in well even in the herb garden.

Indeed, it is very closely related to dill and fennel.

Bupleurum will bloom from summer until killed by hard frost in the fall. They are rarely bothered by insects or disease, making them a true carefree flower.

If you are growing them as cut flowers, sow seeds every two to three weeks for cut flowers all season long.

Plant Bupleurum in early spring and you will soon be carrying armloads of chartreuse flowers through your Dutch door to the kitchen with your Dutch oven. And Bupleurum flowers are always good when you are in trouble or as the English say, when “you are in Dutch.”


  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.

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