How to Plant and Grow Lungwort

Silver speckles on heart-shape leaves, plus blue spring flowers, make this perennial a pretty addition to your landscape.

Lungwort is a perennial with pretty spring blooms that are almost tissue paper-like in appearance and come in a variety of colors. They fade beautifully in color, starting as a lovely shade of red; as they age, they become rich purple. Medium green lance- and heart-shaped leaves on lungwort sport silver speckles. This silver spotting can actually become so dense that the entire leaf appears silver in color. Hardy in Zones 2-8, these plants work well with other shade plants and add brightness to dark corners of the garden.

Lungwort Overview

Genus Name Pulmonaria
Common Name Lungwort
Plant Type Perennial
Light Part Sun, Shade, Sun
Height 6 to 12 inches
Width 1 to 2 feet
Flower Color Blue, Pink, Purple, Red, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green, Gray/Silver
Season Features Spring Bloom, Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Good for Containers, Low Maintenance
Zones 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Propagation Division, Seed
Problem Solvers Deer Resistant, Drought Tolerant, Groundcover

Where to Plant Lungwort

Plant lungwort where it will get plenty of shade. A wall, a fence, or some other structure where they'll be protected from the sun will work. If you plant lungwort under a tree, water it regularly so it doesn't have to fight with the tree's roots for the moisture it needs. Tall perennials will also give lungwort protection from the sun.

How and When to Plant Lungwort

Plant lungwort plants in late summer or early autumn for best results. Spring planting can work as well. 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, and water deeply.

It has a moderate growth rate and the rhizomatous roots will spread gradually to colonize a shady area.

Lungwort Care Tips

Lungwort care is pretty simple. Give them enough water and shade, and feed them yearly.


If plants are in full sun, they'll be less tolerant of drought and may become brown and dry. Lungwort performs best in part shade and ideally shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

Soil and Water

Lungwort is tolerant of various conditions. Evenly moist, well-drained soils are best as it begins growing. However, once established, lungwort has no problem with a bit of drought. They look best in soils rich with organic matter, so it may be helpful to add in compost before planting, especially in dry clay soils. These plants may need supplemental watering in full sun to look their best.

Temperature and Humidity

Mild temperatures are best for lungwort. Heat makes them wilt, though they'll do better once the weather cools down. After the last frost in spring, they start to grow from the ground.


Add compost to soil when planting. Otherwise, lungwort doesn't need much fertilizer. If you wish, add just a little bit of all-purpose garden fertilizer, following manufacturer's instructions, around the plant early in spring.


Remove dead stalks after lungwort finishes flowering. This will promote new growth and possible reflowering. When the weather is very hot, some lungwort leaves and stalks will dry out. Remove them if this happens. When lungwort goes dormant in the hottest part of summer, you can mow off the tops of the plants. Keep lungwort watered, and they'll rejuvenate in cooler weather.

Potting and Repotting Lungwort

It's not recommended to pot lungwort, as it takes a lot of time and attention to keep them alive in. containers. They're meant to be grown in the ground in a shady spot.

Pests and Problems

These plants won't bloom as well in full shade and are more prone to powdery mildew. To treat, simply remove and dispose of the affected leaves. Pick off any slugs, which can damage foliage.

How to Propagate Lungwort

Lungwort tends to be a short-lived perennial. After several years, clumps may begin to slowly thin out and decline. However, with reasonably regular division (every few years is good), you can keep them going much longer. To divide, dig up the plant and cut or break the clump into smaller sections with leaves and roots attached. Plant these into the garden at the same depth as the original plant and water well. Lungwort will also reseed around your garden.

Types of Lungwort

'Benediction' Lungwort

Lungwort Pulmonaria Benediction
David McDonald

Pulmonaria saccharata 'Benediction' produces beautiful deep blue violet flowers in early spring. Its leaves are lightly spotted and remain handsome through the season. It grows to 10 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 4-8.

'Excalibur' Lungwort

'Excalibur' lungwort
Mike Jensen

Pulmonaria saccharata 'Excalibur' has silver leaves rimmed and veined with emerald. Its rose pink flowers bloom in spring. It grows to 9 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 4-8.

'Opal' Lungwort

Opal Lungwort
Marty Baldwin

Pulmonaria 'Opal' bears beautiful pale blue flowers flushed with pink and silver-spotted leaves on a 10-inch-tall plant that grows well in Zones 4-8.

Red Lungwort

Red lungwort
David McDonald

Pulmonaria rubra is one of the earliest to bloom in spring. Its clusters of nodding funnel-shape pinkish-red flowers rise above solid light green leaves that lack spots. It grows about 15 inches tall and is hardy in Zones 5-8.

'Sissinghurst White' Lungwort

'Sissinghurst White' lungwort
Peter Krumhardt

Pulmonaria 'Sissinghurst White' bears pure white flowers over spotted leaves. It grows 10 inches tall in Zones 4-8.

Lungwort Companion Plants


Richard Hirneisen

Hellebores are easy and pretty. Their exquisite bowl- or saucer-shaped flowers in white (often speckled), pinks, yellows, or maroon remain on the plant for several months. Deer-resistant and mostly evergreen, hellebores' divided leaves rise on sturdy stems and may be serrated along the edges. Zones 4-9


W. Garrett Scholes

Primroses are classic cottage flowers popular with collectors who covet the hundreds of varieties. Many are staples of cottage and rock gardens, while others provide spring color to damp spots, rain gardens, and bog gardens. The colorful flowers may be borne singly or rise in tiered clusters or even spikes. Zones 2-8


Green and White Hostas In Bloom
Julie Maris Semarco

Hostas have earned their spot in the hearts of gardeners—they're among the easiest plants to grow, as long as you have some shade and ample rainfall. Hostas are tough perennials ranging from tiny plants suitable for troughs or rock gardens to massive 4-foot clumps with heart-shaped leaves almost 2 feet long in many colors and shapes. Zones 3-9

Shield Fern

Green Holly Fern
David McDonald

For a shady spot, you can't go wrong with shield ferns, also known as holly ferns. Their evergreen fronds always look good and mix well with other shade-lovers without taking over. They can be planted close and massed as a groundcover or used as an accent plant where soil is rich and well-drained. Zones 3-9

Lungwort Garden Plan

Perennial Shade Garden Plan

Try this colorful perennial shade garden plan for a spot under mature trees where turf grass isn't thriving.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Where did lungwort get its name?

    In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was believed that if a plant resembled a body part, it would heal that spot if taken medicinally. Since the flowers look like tiny lungs, it became known as lungwort.

  • How do you overwinter lungwort?

    Keep lungwort covered with mulch during the winter so it can live through the freezing times of the season or to prevent heaving in the coldest parts of its hardiness zones.

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