Friday, June 22, 2007

Easy Ligularia

Although I live in the North, my garden is mostly in full, and I mean FULL, sun. Plus, the summers here are generally in the high 80s and 90s with humidity in the same - but not infrequently does it get over 100F! Bleh! And barely any rain makes for a very poor environment to grow ligularia, unless you happen to have a consistently boggy area in your yard, which I do not.

However, I have happened upon what I would describe as no ordinary ligularia - Desdemona.

Desdemona, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways

First - the fact that it actually grows!! I have killed so many ligularia; and the ones that I have managed to keep alive before finding this one have required a lot of attention.

Second - it's easy! I barely have to do anything to mine - even in FULL SUN!!

Third - they grow in FULL SUN!! Strike that. They aren't so much "growing" as they are "thriving". Having them in full sun was an accident. This area was originally very shaded, but the shade came from annual sunflowers. I had intended to move the ligularia the following spring, but they never gave me a reason to follow through with that plan. Even in the height of summer they do just fine here in FULL SUN!

Fourth - rarely needs extra watering. Ligularia have gained quite a bit of a reputation for being water hogs; and I have to say that my vote is in the affirmative on that one for every other ligularia that I have grown. But these are no ordinary ligularia! I am watering many of my other regular garden plants due to lack of rain or excessive heat long before I even need to think about the Desdemona - and did I mention that these are in FULL SUN?

Fifth - their height. The oldest plant is already over 3' high this year!

Sixth - the texture they add to the garden. Their leaves are Huge! I was just reading the other day that gardens without variety in leaf size and structure will appear boring.
These are definitely not boring. In fact they really do make all the plants around them look better!

Seventh - the color. The leaves are a spruce green on top and an iridescent raspberry underneath. The dark stems add even more contrast and interest.

Eighth - they flower! And they have nice, big, interesting flowers - and lots of them!

Ninth - the structure and form. It is a very architectural plant that can be used successfully in a formal or cottagey garden.

Tenth - did I mention they were easy?


If some one had never planted a ligularia before, this is THE ONE that I would recommend.

9 Comments:

Blogger kris said...

I just bought this ligularia this year. I had several people tell me it was great, and so far so good! I meant to buy one Desdemona and one Othello, but ended up with two Othello. Seems to be okay anyway! I can't wait until they start blooming. Wisc and Minn do have hot summers, don't they!

6/23/2007 10:32 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

I'm glad I read your post. I planted this Ligularia because I loved the colour of the foliage. My other Ligularias droop badly in the summer heat here (which sounds much like yours, except that the humidity here is low).

So hopefully the new Ligularia will handle the sun as well as yours!

6/25/2007 10:34 AM  
Blogger Zoey said...

Interesting...this plant looks like a winner!

I planted two other ligs two years ago--one came back and one died. I have it planted quite a distance from the hose so it's always wilted and never gets very large. It throws a scrawny bloom or two, but nothing too interesting.

I will have to look for this one!

6/27/2007 5:58 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Kris, I bought Othello three times, and killed it twice. The one that survived is under a white pine and is very small even though it is is 5-6 years old. They definitely do not do well without lots of water.

Kate and Zoey, it has been in the mid 80s to low 90s for over a week, with no rain for some time, and I haven't had to water these at all, even in full sun.

6/28/2007 9:50 AM  
Blogger kris said...

Shoot! One that I bought gets a little wilty, but the other seems to do okay - and they're both growing (so far). Next year I'll have to READ THE TAGS and be sure I get Desdemona!

6/28/2007 11:07 PM  
Blogger Ottawa Gardener said...

Oh am I excited by this post. I have always wanted to grow one of these but have a lot of sun in my yard (normally I don't complain about this...)

7/04/2007 10:56 PM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Kris, we didn't get rain for over two weeks and it was in the 80s-90s for at least a week and I only had to water it once - and it really wasn't even wilting that bad.

Ottawa Gardener, yes, sun is usually good, but I too have way too much of it. The place that this ligularia is located really gets no shade at all. And it my most interesting looking ligularia asa bonus. Definitely try these out!

7/11/2007 1:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have one that I paid 50 cents for at Walmart about 5 years ago that did not have a name and was almost dead. From that one plant I have hundreds of beautiful plants. I am not sure if it is the desdemona or otheollo. Can anyone tell me how you differentiate? I love these, however they do not do so well in afternoon sun in Indiana.

7/10/2009 11:55 AM  
Blogger Sylvana said...

Anonymous, I have not been able to divide my ligularia yet, but that's fine. They have gotten so big, they fill in a huge area nicely. From what I have seen of the two, Othello has a kidney shaped leaf that is less ruffly than Desdemona and purplish-green top and purple underside, vs the more heart-shaped leaves with dark green top and purplish under side of Desdemona. Sometimes, though, the plants can look virtually identical. Desdemona tends to get bigger than Othello can. It also is hardier, in my experience. I think the flowers of the Desdemona have better structure as well.

I have checked with other people growing Desdemona and although theirs' get large, they tend to be thirsty, shade lovers like other ligularia; maybe not requiring quite as much of either as other ligularia though. Mine seem to be an exception from the info I've gathered so far -- but maybe it's because people are too afraid to try them in the sun!

7/11/2009 1:53 PM  

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