Alpine Garden Society

Ulster Group

            Plant of the Month, April 2007
Shortia uniflora var kantoensis, by Bob Gordon
Shortias are members of the diaspensiaceae family and are among the elite of garden plants. Their foliage and their exquisite, elegant flowers combine to give a plant of outstanding quality. This surely is nature at its best.

There may be four species in all; Shortia galacifolia is a native of southeastern U.S.A, while the others are from northeastern Asia, mainly Japan. 

They are mostly to be found growing in moist alpine woodland. This would seem to give a clue as to how to grow them in the garden. However in my garden a plant of S. uniflora var grandiflora  has grown for many years, with luxuriant foliage, but few flowers.

Shortia uniflora var kantoensis grows in a pot in an open frame, and gets what sunlight there may be, from early morning until early afternoon, and as can be seen there is an abundance of flowers. These plants are said to dislike root disturbance, but I must now move the original plant from its shady position to a spot more open, where it will receive more sunlight.

The plant illustrated was acquired in February 2005 and is repotted annually. The growing medium is a typical ericaceous mix of about 4 parts leaf mould and one part coarse sand. In hot dry weather, care must be taken that the pot never dries out.

Shortia uniflora var kantoensis

Var kantoensis is smaller than var grandiflora, about 7 - 10 cm tall, with leaves slightly longer than broad and borne on stalks twice as long as the leaves. The conspicuous veining on the leaves, with wavy, red margins, plus the pale pink flowers, 3 cm wide, all contribute to make Shortia uniflora var kantoensis a very desirable plant.