Gardening Blog

Low-maintenance Monday: Ligularia

It is difficult enough to find a plant that provides colour in the shady garden, but add the challenge of a bog or very moist soil, and you have your work cut out for you.

Let us introduce you to Ligularia. The Latin word ligularis or ligulatus translates as like a strap. It also translates more loosely to little tongue, referring to the tongue-like shape and linear nature of its petals. Ligularia is native to China and Japan, and grows in moist woodland areas along ponds and streams.

If planted in similar conditions, Ligularia will prove how happy it is by providing tall sprays of yellow flowers waving from strong stems. Since they are tall, they look best in the back of shady beds or at the edge of water gardens.

There are many species of Ligularia that provide architectural detail, colour and foliage including purple, burgundy and green. The two varieties of Ligularia that master Gardener Kim Price has selected for Gardening from a Hammock are Ligularia ‘Little Rocket’ and Ligularia dentata ‘Desdemona’.

Little Rocket’ (which isn’t so little) produces tall spikes of bright yellow flowers in midsummer, with some of the flower spikes 30 cm tall on top of the existing 90 cm plant. It grows in a clump of large, jagged green leaves with purplish-black stems.

These varieties of Ligularia complement one another. ‘Little Rocket’ (which isn’t so little) produces tall spikes of bright yellow flowers in midsummer, with some of the flower spikes 30 cm tall on top of the existing 90 cm plant. It grows in a clump of large, jagged green leaves with purplish-black stems.

The ‘Desdemona’ variety has purple colour on the underside of its leaf. Kim prefers them as focal point plants because their leaves are large and the rocket flower spikes catch the eye.

All Ligularia are ideal for the shady, moist garden. They can be used in many ways: as an accent, cut flower, a specimen, or to illuminate woodlands or ponds. It also attracts butterflies.

Ligularia is one of the star plants selected by 17 expert gardeners in Gardening from a Hammock by Ellen Novack and Dan Cooper. Gardening from a Hammock is an easy-to-use book describing how to create a fabulous, four-season garden using low-maintenance plants. It’s loaded with tips and has a botanical reference guide.

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