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Ligularia (lig-you-LAIR-ee-uh)

Common Name:  Ragwort, golden groundsel

Light:  - Part sun to full shade

Soil:  Humus-rich, consistently moist to boggy

Moisture:  Constantly moist to wet

Blooms:  Summer

Zones:  4 - 8 (9)


Ligularia 'Britt Marie Crawford' PP#16113

Ligularia 'The Rocket'

Ligularia Description and Cultural Information

Ligularias are bold plants with large leaves with long leaf stalks and unique daisy-like flowers. But there are some vast differences from there. Leaves can be round or kidney shaped to triangular with a wavy margin, toothed, lobed, or deeply divided, dark green, reddish, or green splashed with cream. Flowers may be held above the foliage on a flat cluster while others appear on tall spikes. They all grow from hard crowns with thick, fleshy tap roots and need constant moisture for best performance.

Ligularia dentata, bigleaf ligularia. 3 - 4'. This is a very handsome plant with large, leathery, dark green, heart-shaped leaves and orange daisy-like flowers in summer. 'Desdemona' has dark green leaves above and mahogany-red below. Foliage color is most striking in spring. 'Othello' is similar to 'Desdemona' but with smaller foliage and flowers. 'Britt Marie Crawford' is a newer selection with purple foliage that stays purple all season. Zones 4 - 9.

Ligularia przewalskii, cutleaf ligularia. 5 - 6'. This particular species has very deeply cut foliage with black stems and tall yellow flower spikes. It easily cross pollinates with L. stenocephala creating some highly variable combinations of foliage and flower height. It performs best in humus-rich, consitently moist to boggy soil. Give each plant 30 to 36" to spread out. Zones 4 - 8.

Ligularia stenocephala, narrow-spiked ligularia. 4'. This plant has big, round leaves with jagged, toothed edges, and narrow spikes of yellow, daisy-like flowers. 'The Rocket' is a hybrid with L. przewalskii with yellow spikes up to 6'. Zones 4 - 8.

Ligularia tussilaginea, aka Farfugium japonicum, leopard plant. 1 - 2'. Although somewhat tender this species is interesting enough to mention. They have leathery, kidney-shaped leaves and branched flower stalks in summer with yellow flowers. 'Auromaculata' has glossy, dark green leaves splashed with cream, looking like someone spilled bleach on it. 'Crested Leopard' has the same leathery, spotted leaves but with crested edges. 'Cristata' has gray crested leaves with pink highlights, curled like some kind of giant mutant leaf lettuce. Zones 7 - 8.

How to Grow:  Ligularias are best grown in the bog garden in fertile, humus-rich, moist to wet soil in partial shade. Ligularia dentata is a bit more drought tolerant but 'The Rocket' and Ligularia przewalskii need constant moisture for best growth and survival. 'Desdemona', once established, shows some remarkable sun and drought tolerance, but see the note below about wilting and watering. To propagate it is best to divide plants in the spring, plus self-sown seedlings can be quite common, especially with Ligularia dentata cultivars. Slugs can occasionally be a problem so treatment with a slug bait may be needed.

Ligularia plants will almost always wilt during hot afternoons, with or without adequate moisture. This temporary wilting doesn't harm the plant but does make it look distressed, even though that isn't always the case. This wilting is a natural defense mechanism to keep them from drying out too much. As soon as the sun begins to go down and the temperature begins to moderate they usually stand right back up. If they don't, then they definitely need water, but be sure to water deeply as the roots tend to absorb moisture only from the tips.

Landscape uses:  Ligularias are bold plants that are great in the bog, pond, or stream side garden. Plant them with other moisture loving plants such as ferns, hostas, Lobelia, water loving iris, and Rodgersia.

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