Erinus - Liver Balsam, Fairy Foxglove
Several species in Plantaginaceae, many from South Africa, but only two evergreen species and only one of these is grown as a garden subject. Erinus alpinus is native from the Pyroxenes and the Alps.
Erinus alpinus is a small, pretty alpine, that is good for the rock garden, alpine garden, rock wall or trough/scree container. Needs full sun and good drainage, best in calcareous soils with plenty of gravel. Should be kept dry during the winter months, a open dry mulch is help full were winter go threw cycles of warming and freezing. Any mulches should be removed in late winter before new growth begins in early spring. Often short-lived but plants self seed. In the wild it grows on barren or grassy slopes, screes and rock crevices in sub-alpine and alpine were the soils are calcareous though sometimes on neutral, humus rich soils also.
Erinus alpinus grows 4 inches tall, forms loose mat. The small attractive, purple-pink flowers are produced in terminal racemes in spring and early summer on wiry stems above spoon-shaped leaves. A number of cultivars have existed but only 'Alba' with pure white flowers and 'Dr. Hahnle' with carmine-red flowers are commonly encountered. Hardy in zones 4 to 10 if kept dry in winter. The seeds are small and should be surface sown, light needed for best germination. Use F 65-70. Germination takes 2-3 weeks.