Ligularia

This large-leafed perennial is perfect for persistently damp spots.

Colorful Combinations

With giant, coarse-textured leaves, ligularia makes a fantastic foliage-heavy addition to shade gardens. The large leaves are often kidney shape (or, in some cases, loosely triangular) and tend to be toothed around the edges. As they emerge, the leaves of many ligularia varieties develop a rich burgundy color. Depending on the type, this deep hue may stay throughout the season or fade to a deep green.

In addition to the visually appealing foliage, ligularia has interesting flowers. There are generally two types of blossoms: tall stalks with several small flowers (reminiscent of bottlebrush) or loose stalks of erratic, larger, daisy-like blossoms. No matter their form, the petals of ligularia flowers are always a bright golden color that's quite striking against the deep, dark foliage.

Ligularia Care Must-Knows

The most important thing to know about growing ligularia is that it requires constant moisture. Especially in warmer climates, ligularia needs supplemental water throughout the summer to prevent wilting. (Unless the soil is consistently damp, there's a very good chance ligularia will wilt almost daily in areas with hot summers.) When you're looking for a spot to plant ligularia, make sure to seek moisture-retentive soil; you may even consider placing it alongside water gardens. These perennials prefer rich, organic soil. If needed, add compost to enrich the ground in your garden.

It can be a little tricky siting ligularia for sun exposure. Ideally, these plants should be placed in partial sun. Ligularia can also handle full shade, preferably dappled, but much of the burgundy in the foliage will fade to deep green and the blossoms will be sparser. Very tall flowering varieties will likely flop in too much shade or the flowers will stretch toward the sun. The bottom line: Sunlight needs for ligularia vary, depending on what your overall goal is for the garden.

Despite their constant need for water, these are truly stunning plants—even if only grown for the impressive size of their leaves, which create a wonderful counterpoint to the soft, fine foliage of plants like ferns. Apart from the supplemental watering, ligularia don't need much maintenance. They can be divided in spring as new foliage emerges, but this isn't necessary for optimal growth.

New Innovations

While there haven't been any exciting developments in the world of ligularia lately, there are some fairly recent introductions to note. Some of the more interesting new varieties feature dissected foliage and others flaunt amazing color-changing leaves. Keep an eye out, as there could be some fascinating varieties on the horizon—with 150 species in the ligularia family, there's plenty of potential for innovation.

More Varieties for Ligularia

Ligularia Overview

Description A splendid plant with stunningly large foliage in a rich burgundy color can really make a splash in the shade. If that isn't enough, ligularia adds in spires of bright golden blooms for contrast. Coming in a range of different heights, ligularia makes a bold statement, even without blooms.
Genus Name Ligularia
Common Name Ligularia
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 3 to 8 feet
Width 2 to 4 feet
Flower Color Yellow
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Purple/Burgundy
Season Features Fall Bloom, Summer Bloom
Special Features Attracts Birds, Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant

'Britt Marie Crawford' ligularia

'Britt Marie Crawford' ligularia
Denny Schrock

One of the most commonly planted ligularia, the 'Britt Marie Crawford' entices with gorgeous purple coloring and a solid display of blooms each year. It reaches 3 feet tall. (Zones 4-8)

'The Rocket' ligularia

'the rocket' Ligularia
Peter Krumhardt

A stunning plant with large, triangular-toothed leave, this ligularia has foliage that starts off burgundy and fades to deep green. Reaching over 5 feet tall, 'The Rocket' promises some of the tallest flower spikes amongst ligularia. (Zones 4-8)

Ligularia Companion Plants

Daylily

daylilies
Peter Krumhardt

Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them in ditches and fields—probably after escaping from gardens. Yet they look very delicate, producing glorious trumpet-shape blooms in myriad colors. In fact, there are some 50,000 named hybrid cultivars in a range of flower sizes (the minis are very popular), forms, and plant heights. Although each bloom lasts a single day, superior cultivars carry numerous buds on each scape so bloom time is long, especially if you deadhead daily. The strappy foliage may be evergreen or deciduous.

Globe Thistle

Globe Thistle
Peter Krumhardt

Globe thistle is one of the most elegantly colored plants around. Fantastical large blue balls of steel-blue flowers emerge in midsummer, and large, coarse, grayish-green leaves accent them beautifully. If you can bear to separate the blooms from the foliage, globe thistle makes a great cut flower, lasting for weeks in a vase. (It also dries well!) If it likes its conditions, it will reseed fairly readily; deadheading the flowers shortly after they fade will prevent this spread.

Balloon Flower

balloon flower
Marty Baldwin

The inflated buds of balloon flowers are a thrill to pop. They also make great cut flowers. Lop them in the bud stage, then sear the base of the stems to prevent the milky sap from seeping out and fouling the water. Most commonly blue-violet, balloon flowers also come in pink or white, as well as shorter forms that are better suited for rock gardens and containers. In fall, the foliage turns clear gold, so don't cut the plant down too early—enjoy the show! They tolerate light shade but not wet feet or drought.

Black-Eyed Susan

black-eyed susan
Perry L. Struse

Add a pool of sunshine to your garden with a massed planting of black-eyed Susan. From midsummer, these tough native plants bloom in sun or light shade and mix well with other perennials, annuals, and shrubs. Tall varieties look especially lovely among shrubs, which in turn provide support for the stalks. Add black-eyed Susans to wildflower meadows or native plant gardens for a naturalized look. Average soil is sufficient for black-eyed Susans, so long as it holds moisture fairly well.

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