DOWN THE (SHADE) GARDEN PATH
Ligularia is a perennial in the Aster family. They are available in a wide range of varieties. Some can be quite dramatic. The name comes from the Latin word ligula, meaning little tongue, referring to the tongue-like shape of the large petal on each of the ray flowers. The large leaves grow in rosettes. The leaf colors range from green to a deep purple. The leaf shapes can be round, kidney-shaped, some may be toothed, some are deeply cut, almost like a snowflake. The plants bloom with tall sprays or spires of yellow or orange flowers in summer, usually on strong stems above the leaves.
How to grow: Ligularias do best in partial shade, they will be happiest protected from hot afternoon sun, in the hot afternoon sun, they freely wilt, even though they are well established and well watered. Give them a good, humus-rich garden soil, kept evenly moist, even bogs will do. Ours grow to about 3 – 5 feet high. The bloom spikes can be a 1 -2 feet above the leave clump. These form large clumps, it’s best to allow plenty of space should be allowed between plants.
Propagation: By division in spring or from seed, ours started self-seeding after the plants became well established.
How to use ligularias: in the back of shady beds or borders, in bogs or along the edge of water gardens.
We have used them as a border plant along a path in our shade garden. The deep purple color of some varieties are very striking against the hakonchloa ‘all gold’ we have planted in front of them. We also like to have a little fun with some of the more novel plants in our garden. We have ligularia ‘dragon’s breath’ and ligularia ‘dragon wings’, complete with a garden dragon.
Ligularia BONUS: for several years I have been casting leaves in concrete. These have a wonderful natural bowl shape for making water bowls for butterflies, birds and bees and bird feeders. I flatten the leaves out and the make great leave casts for stepping stones.
So… grow some ligularias have some fun.