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How to Grow Maltese Cross Flowers


Perennial,  Lychnis

Maltese Cross, also called Jerusalem Cross, is a sharp looking, attractive red flower. They are drought tolerant and easy to grow. Maltese Cross are perfect to brighten up your flower garden. The flowers will attract butterflies in the summer.

Maltese Cross plants grow two to thee feet tall. It has dark green leaves, located opposite each other on the stem. Stem and leaves are "hairy". Florets have four petals in a cross shape. A rounded flower head has many florets. By far the most common color, is a deep red or scarlet red. Red-Orange is also common. White and pink varieties also exist, though they are less common.

Maltese Cross is native to Russia and Siberia. Historians believe the Maltese Cross flower was brought to Europe during the Crusades of the Middle Ages by the Knights of Malta. This Middle East connection also lends to it's other name, the Jerusalem Cross flower.

Maltese Cross is also called: Burning Love Flower.

Plant Maltese Cross, or Jerusalem Cross in the back of the flower garden. They are also used as border edgings. Try them in naturalized landscape settings, too.

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Plant Propagation:

Maltese Cross plants are grown from seeds. They can be directly seeded into your flower garden, or seeded indoors six to eight weeks before the last frost in your area. Sow seeds early in the season, and cover lightly with 1/8" of fine garden or potting soil.

Maltese Cross Seeds germinate in two to three weeks. We recommend using a heated germination mat.

Ideal plant spacing is 12" -15".  Thin or transplant seedlings, if needed, when they reach 2". They will tolerate a little crowding.

Established plants can also be propagated by plant division of the rootball. Separate and replant in spring or late fall.

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How to Grow Maltese Cross Plants:

Maltese Cross plants are very easy to grow. They like full sun, but tolerate partial shade. The plants prefer loose, rich soil that drains well. Maltese Cross plants are drought tolerant, preferring soil on the dry side. It is important to avoid wet soils. Plants will not do well ,and will likely die, in wet soils. Add a general purpose fertilizer when planting, then once a month after that.

Once your Maltese Cross plants are established, they should grow well with few problems.  Keep well weeded. Apply a layer of mulch to keep the weeds down. The "hairy" leaves and stems can catch garden debris. Be careful to keep them clean, while working with the plants.

Jerusalem Cross plants will flower in the second year. Then, watch the butterflies flying over to the blooms.  Deadhead the spent flowers, to promote continuous blooms all summer and into early fall.  Remove the flower and entire flower stem.

Maltese Cross plants are heat and drought tolerant. But, we do recommend watering them during the driest periods of summer. They will do well in mid-summer's heat.

Jerusalem Cross can be invasive. Use border edging, as needed. Edging should be four to six inched deep in the soil.

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Insect and Disease:

Insect and disease problems are uncommon.

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