The common names for Adonis (which can be either a hardy annual or perennial) include Pheasant's eye, False Hellebore, Sweet Vernal and Red Morocco.
The annuals typically flower in the summer, whereas the perennials flower in the early spring.
Adonis genus members are usually low growing plants, though some species can reach 20 inches (50 cm) in height. Adonis annuals and perennials bear yellow, red, or white flowers resembling those of buttercups.
As a consequence of the perennials being very early flowering, they are great to use in the garden, and can look wonderful when grown against pathways or in a rockery.
Adonis aestivalis picture by Duendecillo
Adonis vernalis photograph by Gernot Hochmueller.
The Adonis genus belongs to the Ranunculacaea family of flowering plants, which comprises of 30 species. Some of the commonly grown species in the garden include Summer Pheasants eye (Adonis aestivalis); Pheasant's eye also known as Blooddrops (Adonis annua); Spring Pheasant's eye, False Hellebore, Sweet Vernal (Adonis vernalis); Far East Amur Adonis (Adonis amurensis); and Pyrenean Adonis (Adonis pyrenaica).
The plants can range in height from 4 inches (10 cm) to 16 inches (40 cm) and usually have feathery leaves. The number of petals is widely variable between individual species, from as little as five petals to as many as thirty.
Common Names: Pheasant's eye, False Hellebore, Adonis' flower, Red Chamomile, Blooddrops, Sweet Vernal and Red Morocco.
Scientific Names: Adonis aestivalis, A. vernalis, A. amurensis, A. annua, A. flammea.
Life Cycle: Hardy annual. Hardy perennial.
Height: 4 to 18 inches (10 to 45 cm).
Native: Europe, North Africa and Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 3 to 10.
Flowers: Perennials: spring; annuals: summer.
Flower Details: Red, yellow, gold, orange, white. Ray florets. Butter-cup like.
Foliage: Finely divided. Thread-like. Feathery.
Sow Outside: Cover seeds. Annuals before the last frost. Perennials in autumn. Germination time: one to four months. Temperature 65ºF (18ºC). Spacing 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm).
Sow Inside: Best started outdoors.
Requirements: Partial shade or full sunlight (keep soil moist). Soil pH 6 to 8. Moist soil. Sandy soil. Mulch perennials for the winter.
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 2: 121.
It is best to sow Adonis seeds outdoors, sow on the surface then cover with a dusting of soil. They should be planted with a spacing of 15 to 30 cm, in spring (annuals) or in the autumn (perennials).
Plants prefer partly shady conditions, but can be grown in full sunlight as long as the soil is kept moist. The soil type should be moist and sandy with a pH between 6 and 8.
Adonis are generally easy plants to look after, perennial varieties require fertilizer, and a thick mulch in the winter.
Pheasant's eye, Red morocco, Blooddrops (Adonis annua).
This plant is an annual that is usually found in corn fields. Adonis annua can reach 20 inches (50 cm) in height. It carries beautiful red/scarlet flowers. As with other Adonis the foliage consists of feathery leaves. This plant flowers in June and July.
Pyrenean Adonis (Adonis Pyrenaica).
This is a perennial plant native to the mountains between France and Spain. It reaches between 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) in height and carries large flowers of gold/yellow.
Spring Pheasant's eye, False Hellebore, Sweet Vernal (Adonis vernalis).
This is a perennial that is native to the steppes of Europe. The plant is a medicinal plant that contains a compound (glycoside Adonidin) that is used in the treatment of heart conditions. As one of the common names suggests this member of the Adonis genus flowers in the spring. It has flowers that are yellow/gold in colour.