Dictamnus Purpureus – A Pink Gas Plant

Almost all gardeners have remembrances of special plants from their childhood. One particular plant that I remember fondly was my father’s treasured pink-flowering gas plant Dictamnus fraxinella Purpureus (also confusingly known as Dictamnus albus Rosea). It grew in our perennial garden and matured into a mound about three feet wide by four feet tall. For several weeks in late spring each year it bore over a dozen flowers spikes of soft pink with darker pink veins. Our gas plant always attracted attention because they are so rare and unusual. Each year it grew a little and gained a few more flower spikes. Our gas plant never got any special care except for spring fertilization with an organic food for flowers. The foliage mound of gas plants is lush, dense and dark green giving a thick bushy appearance. Gas plants are notoriously difficult to transplant. However, when we moved from one house to another, we did successfully transplant it by carefully digging a large root ball in early spring just as it was emerging from the ground.

Although gas plants are easy to grow and will live for generations, they are scarce and hard to find. Propagation is difficult and the gas plant is slow growing when the plant is young. One of the most common questions we get is: “Do you have gas plants in stock?”To my knowledge there is only one wholesale nursery in the United States that grows gas plants and we are indeed fortunate to have nice established blooming-sized specimens from 2.62 quart pots.

Dictamnus is called gas plant because the leaves, flowers, and star-shaped seed pods give off a strong lemon-scented vapor, which on hot summer nights flashes when ignited with a match, harmless to the plant.

Select a location with well-drained garden soil–an evenly moist, compost enhanced, fertile soil that does not become soggy.

Choose a permanent spot; gas plants are very difficult to transplant.

Add Heart and Soil or a small amount of lime at planting time; or use an alkaline compost such as Chesapeake Blue, Compro or Chesapeake Green.

Grows best in full sun, but will tolerate some light shade. In zone 7, some protection from the hottest afternoon sun, is preferred.

Fertilize in spring with Flower-Tone.

Hardy in Zones 3-7.

To view Dictamnus fraxinella Purpureus visit the

website.