For as long as I have been gardening I have been planting Ligularia in the shade garden. It wasn’t until I started gardening in the park that I realized just how underused this plant is and how positively people react to it when they see it.
Ligularia in the courtyard garden.
In general, Ligularia have glossy, deep green foliage with a purple underside. Foliage can be quite large and round to heart shape to thin and deeply serrated. Flowers are orange-yellow to yellow and can look a bit like a black-eyed Susan or along the lines of a yellow delphinium. A long-lived plant, mine have been doing quite well at the park for five years with good but not perfect care.
Shade to part shade
Moist, well-draining rich soil
They do not like to dry out and will not tolerate dry soil conditions
Plant with other water-loving shade plants, or plan on deeply spot watering to ensure healthy, vigorous plants. Rodgersia is a great companion plant because it, too, prefers rich, consistently moist soil.
Wilting: These plants will wilt—especially the variety ‘The Rocket’—during the heat of the day. Do not panic, it is simply the plant’s way of conserving water. However, if the plant does not regain full structure in the cooler evening hours, additional water is needed. Water deeply. Ligularia have deep roots and like to draw water from deeper regions of the soil.
NOTE: It is always best to deeply water all plants to establish deep roots. Shallow watering (when water only penetrates the top few inches of soil) leads to shallow roots that are prone to drying out quickly.
Slugs: Holes in Ligularia foliage? Slugs are to blame. Remove damaged leaves and use your preferred method of slug control to keep the voracious eaters at bay.
Ligularia Offerings: Here are three Ligularia varieties to get you started.
‘Britt-Marie Crawford’: Blooms August to September, reaches 2 to 3 feet in height. Space 24 to 36 inches apart.
King Kong: Leaves are 16 inches across and start dark purple-black and transition to burgundy as the plant’s yellow-orange flowers appear. Quite large! Height is 3 to 4 feet and a spacing of 36 to 42 inches is recommended.
The Rocket: Deeply serrated leaves that are typically not as thick or fleshy as other Ligularia varieties. Deep yellow flowers appear on tall spikes in July and August. Height is 5 to 6 feet when in bloom. Spacing should be 2 to 3 feet.
Photos courtesy of White Flower Farm