How to Plant and Grow Ligularia

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

With giant, coarse-textured leaves, perennial ligularia makes a foliage-heavy addition to shade gardens. The leaves are sometimes triangular, sometimes kidney-shaped, and tend to be toothed around the edges. Ligularia is hardy in Zones 4-9. 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 foliage, ligularia has 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.

Ligularia Overview

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

Where to Plant Ligularia

When considering where to plant ligularia, seek moisture-retentive soil; you may even consider placing it alongside water gardens. It can be tricky siting ligularia for sun exposure. Ideally, these plants should be placed in partial sun. Very tall flowering varieties will likely flop in too much shade because the flowers will stretch toward the sun. Given their size and dramatic foliage and flowers, ligularias make an eye-catching statement in the middle of a border or around a pond.

How and When to Plant Ligularia

The optimal time to plant ligularia is either early spring or early fall. In spring, new plants will get the light and warm weather they require for a successful growing season. If planted in the fall, they'll have time to establish roots in the soil before the next growing season starts. Remember that they constantly need moist soil, so plant in a spot where that's possible. Dig a hole about the same width and depth as the planting container. Remove the plant and loosen the roots a bit from the root ball before placing in the hole. Backfill with soil, tamp lightly. Water deeply twice a week when first planted, then once a week as needed.

Ligularia Care Tips

The most important thing to know about growing ligularia is that it requires constant moisture. Apart from the supplemental watering, ligularia doesn't need much maintenance.


Sunlight needs for ligularia vary, depending on your overall goal for the garden. The best location will have partial sun, but ligularia can also handle full shade, preferably dappled. However, much of the burgundy in the foliage will fade to deep green, and the blossoms will be sparser with less sunlight.

Soil and Water

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.) These perennials prefer rich, organic soil. If needed, add compost to enrich the ground in your garden.

Temperature and Humidity

Ligularia needs warm, humid conditions to thrive since it's a tropical plant. They may go dormant in temperatures over 75ºF.


If the soil where you plant ligularia is humus- and nutrient-rich, fertilizer isn't needed. Add peat moss (or an eco-friendly alternative) or bone meal to the soil before planting, and add a layer of organic compost each year.


Prune dead blooms from the plant during the season, but wait until the first frost to cut it back for winter. Otherwise, ligularia doesn't need regular pruning.

Potting and Repotting Ligularia

If you grow ligularia in a container, it should be at least 12 inches in diameter. Add around 1 inch of soil over the roots. Fertilize monthly to keep the soil rich, but don't overfertilize, and don't add fertilizer during the dormant winter months. When the roots start to grow out of the container, replant to a larger one.

Pests and Problems

There are few problems with ligularia, but common garden pests like snails and slugs can do damage since they chew on the leaves. Use a reliable method to keep them out of your plants.

How to Propagate Ligularia

Ligularia can be divided in spring as new foliage emerges, but this isn't necessary for optimal growth.

To propagate, cut a piece from the Ligularia root and divide as needed, pulling apart the roots. Place the roots in a mix of 50 percent water and 50 percent fertilizer. Once the roots are 2 inches long, they're ready for planting.

To grow from seed, place seeds indoors in indirect sunlight in potting mix and water, leaving the seeds exposed to get the light. Once the seedlings are a few inches tall, after about six weeks, they'll be ready for planting.

Types of Ligularia

'Britt Marie Crawford' Ligularia

'Britt Marie Crawford' ligularia
Denny Schrock

One of the most commonly planted ligularia, the 'Britt Marie Crawford' has 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

This ligularia has triangular-toothed leaves and 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


Peter Krumhardt

Daylilies are so easy to grow you'll often find them in ditches and fields, but they look very delicate, with trumpet-shaped blooms in myriad colors. Although each flower 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. Large balls of steel-blue flowers emerge in midsummer with coarse, grayish-green leaves. Globe thistle makes an excellent cut flower, lasting for weeks in a vase. In the right conditions, it will reseed fairly readily; deadheading the flowers shortly after they fade will prevent unwanted spread. Zones 3-10

Balloon Flower

balloon flower
Marty Baldwin

The inflated buds of balloon flowers are fun to pop. They also make great cut flowers. Most commonly blue-violet, balloon flowers also come in pink or white. In fall, the foliage turns clear gold, so don't cut the plant down too early. They tolerate light shade but not wet feet or drought. Zones 4-9

Black-Eyed Susan

black-eyed susan
Perry L. Struse

Add 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. Zones 3-11

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do birds like ligularia?

    Yes, ligularia's blooms attract birds, butterflies, and other pollinators to your garden.

  • Is ligularia the same as leopard plant?

    Yes. Ligularia originally had many spotted varieties which is why it was called leopard plant, but now there are few cultivars with spots. It originated in China and Japan.

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