Haberlea is a pretty lilac alpine which offers a challenge. It is very fussy about its environment and will not succeed unless given the right set of conditions. It needs acid soil in a shady spot, and water must not be left to stand in the heart of the rosette of leaves during winter. The best plan is to plant it sideways in a crack between the stones or bricks in a north-facing rockery or wall.

VARIETIES: The usual Haberlea is H. rhodopensis – height 4 in., spread 8 in.

Flowering period: May. The stalks bearing clusters of flowers arise from the centre of the rosette composed of dark green leaves. The lilac flowers are tubular and measure about 1 in. across. A white variety (’Virginalis’) is available. Pick H.ferdinandi-coburgii if you can find it. It is larger than H. rhodopensis and the lilac flowers are flecked with gold.

SITE AND SOIL: Requires well-drained but damp soil with little or no direct sun.

PROPAGATION: Plant healthy mature leaves as cuttings in a cold frame in summer. Alternatively divide clumps in autumn.

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