Perennial Maltese Cross plants, also called Jerusalem Cross, is a sharp-looking, attractive flowers. They are drought tolerant and easy to grow. Maltese Cross flowers are perfect to brighten up your flower garden. If you’re not yet convinced, there’s another reason for growing Maltese Cross flowers. Just imagine relaxing on your desk as you watch the monarch butterflies and other butterflies visit the flowers.
The plants grow three to four 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.
Plant Maltese Cross in the back of the flower garden. They are also used as border edgings. Try them in naturalized landscape settings, too.
Flowers Bloom: Early to mid-Summer
Flower Colors: Pink, red, and white.
Plant height: 3 to 4 feet tall.
Other Names: Jerusalem Flower, Burning Love Flower
Perennial Maltese Cross 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 10 – 15 days. We recommend using a heated germination mat.
The ideal final plant spacing is 12″ -15″ apart. Thin or transplant seedlings, if needed, when they reach 2″. The plants tolerate a little crowding.
Established plants can also be propagated by plant division of the rootball. Separate and replant in spring or late fall.
Days to Germination: 10 – 15 days.
Maltese Cross plants are very easy to grow. The like full sun. They will tolerate partial shade. They 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 them, then once a month after that.
Once your Maltese Cross plants are established, they should grow well with few problems. Keep the plants 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.
The 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. With enough moisture in the soil, they will do well in mid-summer heat when other plants are wilting.
Jerusalem Cross can be invasive. Use border edging, as needed. Edging should be four to six inches deep in the soil.
Ideal Soil pH: 6.5 – 7.5.
Plant Problems – Identify the causes and find the cures.
Insect and disease problems are uncommon.