Leontopodium Nivale Care

Leontopodium nivale, is also known as edelweiss. It is a beautiful alpine plant with unusual blooms that are shaped like stars. These gorgeous edelweiss flowers are often associated with the Swiss and Austrian Alps, being the national symbol of Switzerland.

In Austria, Romania, and Italy, these plants and flowers hold strong symbolic significance to their citizens. In this article, we will explore all the important factors involved in growing the nivale plant successfully.

What Is Leontopodium Nivale?

The Leontopodium nivale is naturally found in mountainous regions with high altitudes. The leaves and flowers of the plants are covered in thick hair to protect them from the harsh elements. It can grow up to sixteen inches in the most optimal conditions.

Leontopodium Nivale Care

The edelweiss flower is relatively easy to care for especially in regions that experience snow. However, they can still be grown in areas that do not receive snow.

Under this condition, they can require a little bit more attention. Gardeners still enjoy the Leontopodium nivale subsp plant in areas that receive little to no snow. They just need to make sure that the conditions are ideal for these beautiful plants to grow.

– Water Requirements

The Leontopodium nivale subsp plant is used to receiving very little water as it thrives in rocky places. If you intend to cultivate the plant in your garden, then you can water it very sparingly when in the ground. However, when planted in pots or in areas that experience dryness and heat, you should water it enough to keep the soil moist but not wet.

Watering should also be done early in the morning or later in the evening. These times of the day make sure that the water is adequately absorbed in the soil and travels to the roots. This method also ensures that your flowering plant does not experience any water burns during the day.

On the other hand, during the colder months, you must reduce your watering to once a month, or none at all if the area that you live in experiences snow. The plant does not require special care, which means that it thrives profusely when left alone. The only precaution gardeners should take is to ensure that it does not get waterlogged.

Another consideration to note is that the nivale plant can be affected by heavy rainfall. If your area experiences these weather conditions often, shelter your plants under some protective netting. You can also place them strategically under taller plants.

– Light Requirements

Since the Leontopodium alpinum or the alpine edelweiss is a plant that is so high up in the mountains, it prefers bright light exposure to thrive. This plant cannot be fully exposed to the sun, simply because it can also burn if the heat is too intense. When grown in cultivation, it is best to plant this plant under some taller plants.

Bright sun exposure in the morning

Doing so will allow some shade to protect the edelweiss flower plant from the harsh midday sun. At the same time, the plants will enjoy bright sun exposure in the morning. The best way to protect your plants is to keep them facing the morning sun yet sheltered from the midday and afternoon sun, to receive the most appropriate amount of sun.

On the other hand, you can also place the plant in a south-facing location. This keeps sure that the plant gets the right amount of brightness without any direct sun exposure, hence no harm will come to the flower. If your region experiences cold temperatures, you can allow your plants to experience full sun. This will mimic their natural growing conditions in the Swiss mountaintops.

– Soil Requirements

The plant prefers poor stony soils with very little nutrient content; because this plant has evolved to grow specifically in mountainous soil conditions where the soil is very loose. When growing in cultivation, you must make sure that your soil mimics the same conditions.

If your garden soil is prone to holding more moisture than what is ideal for the Leontopodium, that is when you can amend it. Add some gardening sand to loamy soils or soils with high clay content. This will allow the roots of the plant to be free from becoming waterlogged.

Another option is to use soil that is made for cactus and other succulent plants. This substrate allows water to quickly drain while retaining some moisture. Additionally, you must keep in mind that the plant thrives in slightly alkaline soils.

While neutral soil will work, Leontopodium alpinum can, however, enjoy some amount of alkalinity. What you can do is, throw in some additional limestone to the soil. Remember, soils that are often wet or waterlogged can cause the plants to develop root rot and die.

However, if your region does not expect to have much snow during the cold winter minter months, you can mulch around your nivale. Remove the mulch once spring arrives to allow new growths to push through.

– Temperature Requirements

This plant grows well in regions where colder climates are experienced most of the year. In its native environments, the plant enjoys cool weather. These are the regions where the warmest summer days reach a maximum of 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

At the same time, this plant thrives in USDA zone 4, where the average cold temperatures in the winter range from -10 to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. These conditions encourage the plant to grow whereas the same climatic conditions can cause other plants to perish, just like it’s origin.

However, you can still grow the nivale plant in USDA zones up to 7. Although, these zones will require you to provide more care in ensuring your plant goes through a very cold period. The latter is because the plant will not thrive in warmer climatic conditions.

Since this plant are used to cold harsh environments, this means that they do not require overwintering, which is a practice that gardeners adapt to shelter plants from the bitter cold. 

– Humidity Requirements

The nivale plant is unusual in the sense that it requires very little to no humidity. Since it thrives in cold weather, heat and humidity are not requirements at all. In fact, they can be affected detrimentally by high heat and humidity.

Nivale no need humidity

To make everything as smooth as possible, make sure that your plant is located outside. Of course, you have to make sure that your outdoors has the necessary temperature ranges and soil texture as well.

It is not recommended to grow the mountainous plant indoors, as the heat and humidity will affect it. This is very evident, especially during the winter months, because this period is when the plant requires snow to begin the signal of its growth in the spring.

– Fertilizing Requirements

This plant does not require strict fertilizers or soil nutrient enhancements. This is because of the ability of the plant to grow in poor, rocky soil over the years. Decades of evolution have made the plant capable of growing in areas where other plants perish.

The plant has developed so much over the years that it can easily get its required nutrition even from the poorest soil. As a result, soils with nutrients or amended with fertilizers can cause the plant go to into shock.

Overall, when grown in cultivation, it is best to leave your plant alone. Any accidental fertilizer exposure may affect its roots and overall growth. The best way to ensure this is to place the plant near other plants with similar needs.

– Pruning

If you want your mountain-growing plant to thrive in a vigorous but compact manner, remember that you must prune it. You can prune your plant and leave it about five to six inches above the ground because this encourages your plant to grow back tighter and sturdier.

Pruning your plant will not encourage a second bloom. However, if you leave your flowers intact, they will self-seed. This in turn encourages more plants to grow and spread over your sandy, well-draining areas.



Nivale plants are normally sown from seeds, which is also an easy activity. There are two ways in which you can propagate your plants. Both methods involve stratification but first, we will discover what the term is.

– Outdoor Seed Stratification Propagation

Some seeds of particular plants require specific and certain conditions to germinate successfully. Seed stratification refers to the process where the dormancy of the seed is broken to encourage germination. In order to make seed stratification processes successful, it is vital to simulate the exact conditions where nature breaks their dormancy.

Outdoor Seed Stratification Propagation

Sow your seeds outdoors before the last frost in the spring. This allows your seeds to undergo cold stratification naturally.

Make sure your nivale seeds are sown in an area where they will receive bright indirect light as mature plants. While they prefer full sun in cold climates, they may suffer burns in warmer climates. If you live in an area where this can happen, shelter them under some taller plants.

This plant blooms during its second year of growth, typically from July to September. The flowers are coated in a light hairy fuzz with a star-like appearance. The plant will flower for a few years before eventually seeding and dying off.

To extend the life of your plant, divide the clumps into new divisions. This will encourage the divisions to produce more flowers. These flowers will produce seeds, which will encourage more plants to grow.

– Indoor Seed Stratification Propagation

If you want to start your seeds indoors, place them inside a black plastic bag. Once inside the bag, store the seeds in the refrigerator at 54 degrees Fahrenheit for three weeks. After three weeks, begin by sowing your plant’s seeds on top of well-draining soil.

Mist the seeds, and place them in a cooler and humid enviornment. In two weeks’ time, germination will begin to take place.

Place the seedlings in a protected location that receives very bright indirect light. Allow your seedling to grow until up to four inches or taller. Plant your seedlings outside where they receive bright indirect light. Space them apart around four inches for smaller varieties and a foot for larger ones.


While this plant requires very little care, it should be noted that it only thrives in certain conditions. When these conditions are not met, your plant can experience stress and trauma that can cause it to perish eventually. To reduce the risks of this happening, here are some common problems that gardeners encounter when growing this plant.

– Not Enough Light

The nivale plant would thrive in bright yet partial sunlight. When the sunlight is not enough, your plant can start to wither and die. To solve this, ensure that your plant receives light from a very bright source when growing it.

– Too Much Water

Too much water can cause your plant to develop root rot and die. Make sure how you are watering your plant sparingly because you must keep the soil moist but not wet. Waterlogging your plant will not keep it up for more than a week.

– Wrong Soil Conditions

Watering this plant can be done regularly as long as your soil texture is adequate. This means that your soil should be loose, sandy, or rocky, and have poor nutrient content. This allows your plant to enjoy just the right amount of moisture without getting its roots overly wet or waterlogged. 

– Crown Rot

Crown rot is exactly what it sounds like. The symptom of this illness is when the crown of your plant looks rotted or discolored. Eventually, the foliage will shed its leaves and the plant will die soon after.

Leontopodium Nivale looks rotted or discolored

The cause for crown roots is the presence of wet, waterlogged, or clay-heavy soil. The roots of the plant will suffocate. This can cause your plant to display signs of crown rot.

To avoid crown rot from spreading to other plants, remove the diseased plant immediately. Add sand or gravel to amend the soil and encourage good drainage. You can apply a fungicide if you wish to ensure the health of your plants further.

The fungicide must be applied as directed to avoid harming the plants. Reduce the risk of fungal growth by watering the soil beneath your plants instead of their leaves.


– What Does the Leontopodium Nivale Name Mean?

Leontopodium comes from two Latin words, “leon” and “podium”, which combine to mean a lion’s paw. This is due to the flower’s similar appearance to that of a fuzzy foot. “Nivale” is Latin for snowy or snow.

It is made famous by songs and movies, the Leontopodium nivale is also called Edelweiss. “Edel” in German means noble, while “weiss” means white. This is in reference to the nobility and wisdom of the beautiful flower growing in the middle of the harshest environment.

This plant is famous for its flowers, which symbolize purity and innocence amidst the wilderness of the Swiss Alps. The plant also came to represent rugged individualism and strength due to its growing conditions. Other symbolisms include renewal, peace, elegance, honesty, and perfection.

– How Does the Leontopodium Nivale Smell Like?

The Leontopodium plant has a very distinctive sweet fragrance. It is similar to the scent of hyacinth flowers, except that it does not have strong, cloying notes. Many find the fragrance of the flower to be floral, light, and delicately sweet with a single note.

– Is There Any Use of the Leontopodium Nivale?

This plant has been used in herbal medicines as anti-aging ingredient for cosmetic creams and treatments. Traditionally, the leaves and flowers of the plant are made into a tea to soothe upset stomachs. The plant has no known toxicity to humans or pets.


The Leontopodium nivale plant is a great specimen to cultivate if you live in regions where the conditions are optimal for its growth. Also known as Edelweiss, this plant is famous for its unusual flowers and symbolism.

Here are some of the key points that you need to remember about growing this amazing plant:

  • The plant prefers bright light exposure in colder regions.
  • This plant also thrives in well-draining poor soils that retain some moisture.
  • The requires very little care and maintenance because it is used to growing in the wild and mountainous places.
  • The plant can be started both indoors and outdoors as long as the seeds are exposed to cold temperatures for three weeks.
  • It is difficult to grow this plant indoors although it is possible as long as you provide the adequate light, water, soil, and temperature needs.

Growing the Leontopodium is actually quite easy once you know how. Reading this article, you are now better equipped to take care of these beautiful mountain flowers. All you need to do is remember their most basic needs and you are good to go!

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