This classic perennial is an easy way to add charm to your cottage garden. Ever-popular lady’s mantle lends interesting texture to any landscape with its fuzzy, cup-like leaves that hold onto water droplets like little gems. Lady’s mantle features dainty yellow flowers that bloom in late spring to early summer in airy masses above the foliage. Initially the flowers sit above the foliage until they become too heavy and droop down gracefully. The flowers, similar to baby’s breath, last for several weeks and are excellent for both cut and dried flower arrangements. This long-lived perennial plant also blends well with other spring blossoming plants in your garden and makes a good front-of-the-border option because of its tidy, low growth habit.
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In addition to its flowers, lady's mantle is prized for its foliage. Shallow leaves of cool green with softly scalloped edges are covered with soft hairs, creating a velvety appearance. The foliage makes a nice coarse-textured groundcover that looks attractive when planted underneath small trees.
Lady's Mantle Name Origin
Here's a fun fact about lady's mantle: It received its Latin name of Alchemilla because of its use in alchemy in medieval times. Morning dew was a prized ingredient for many alchemical recipes, and one of the main ways to gather early morning moisture was from the leaves of lady's mantle where dew drops had collected.
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Lady's Mantle Care Must-Knows
Lady's mantle can handle a wide variety of soil conditions but prefers a slightly acidic-to-neutral soil. Lady's mantle is drought-tolerant once established, however, it will require supplemental water in high heat or full sun areas to prevent leaves from turning brown. Fertilizing is generally not necessary for lady's mantle unless you have exceptionally poor soil. If you have inferior soil, a small amount of slow-release organic fertilizer or compost can be mixed in at the time of planting.
One of the ideal places to plant lady's mantle is along edges of gardens or walkways where it is able to gently lean over and soften those hard edges.
There is little maintenance required for lady's mantle. Typically it only needs the occasional cleanup of leaves as they turn brown and deadheading of flowers as they begin to fade. Lady's mantle can remain standing in the fall, as it is semi-evergreen; it will overwinter better if the leaves are left on the plant to act as insulation. Come early spring, simply remove any brown and crispy leaves before new ones emerge.
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More Varieties of Lady's Mantle
A miniature version of A. mollis, this has smaller pleated leaves with silver edging on slowly creeping plants with the same blooms. Zones 3-7.
Alchemilla mollis displays a froth of chartreuse flowers throughout the summer. It grows 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. Zones 4-7.
Lady's Mantle Companion Plants
Astilbe brings a graceful, feathering note to moist, shady landscapes. In cooler climates in the northern third or so of the country, it can tolerate full sun provided it has a constant supply of moisture. In drier sites, however, the leaves will scorch in full sun. Feathery plumes of white, pink, lavender or red flowers rise above the finely divided foliage from early to late summer depending on the variety. It will spread slowly over time where well-situated. Most commercially available types are complex hybrids.
Exciting new selections with incredible foliage patterns have put coralbells on the map. Previously enjoyed mainly for their spires of dainty reddish flowers, coralbells are now grown as much for the unusual mottling and veining of different-color leaves. The low clumps of long-stemmed evergreen or semi-evergreen lobed foliage make coralbells fine groundcover plants. They enjoy humus-rich, moisture-retaining soil. Beware of heaving in areas with very cold winters.
Add a little sunshine to your garden with imposing ligularia. Its golden flower spikes or flattened heads of yellow daisylike flowers shine brightly in sun or part shade. The bold leaves are kidney-shape or jagged along the edges. These moisture lovers do beautifully at the edges of ponds and streams, and they must have deep, rich soil that remains moist. Position ligularia so it has a little shade during the heat of the day.