Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Happy Epimedium

Spring is Epimedium's time to shine. Or is it? 

They are funny little things - tiny blooms appear in late April/early May here in zone 5 and only attract attention because of the sheer number of them.  You must get right down on the ground at their level to appreciate the intricate beauty of the blooms or you'll miss it, due to their downward facing habit.

 Epimedium x. rubrum

 Epimedium x. perralchicum 'Frohnleiten'

But once the blooming's over, it's then that Epimediums come into their own. The foliage is interesting in its shape - somewhat like hearts - and the prickly edging. Veining is prominent in some varieties, and new growth can exhibit wonderful red coloring.

 Epimedium rubrum, with Heuchera 'Snow Angel'

They are a groundcover, with the foliage topping out at somewhere around six inches. Also known as Barrenwort, Epimedium grows best in shade and is hardy in zones 4-8. Other names are Fairy Wings, Bishop's Mitre, and Bishop's Hat. The foliage turns a nice reddish shade again in the fall.


CanadianGardenJoy said...

Kylee girl !
I just planted my first epimedium yesterday .. Lilafee .. I know it probably won't do much of anything this year .. it was from a mail order house and just the bare root type thing .. but I have high hopes for it and can't wait to see those gorgeous little flowers : )
Yours are beauties !

Kylee Baumle said...

Hi, Joy! That's 'Lilafee' in the first photo. I planted it last year, while I've had the others for several years. They all do well for me here.
I think the flowers on some of them look like tiny orchids!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Those little flowers are worth the effort. The plants themselves certainly earn their keep as they are so carefree.

Jan said...

Hi Kylee, Last fall I brought home 2 varieties of Epimedium...'Niveum' and 'rubrum'. Silly me...(or should I say, 'lazy me')...as I never got around to planting them until this spring! They even survived the winter in the small nursery containers they were in, which I thought was great! Of course, there were no blooms on any of them this spring as they didn't get planted & they were probably using any energy they had to 'just hang on' (!)...
Anyway, I'm looking forward to them blooming next year, after they've had a nice comfortable year tucked into the garden! You mentioned prickly edges...do they ALL have prickly edges? The foliage on my 'Niveum' does, but not the 'rubrum'. The leaves on the 'rubrum' never did get as big as the 'Niveum' so it's possible that isn't showing up this year...I'll have to wait and see what they're looking like next year.

Kim said...

I have always loved Epimediums, but didn't have any shade. Now that I have what feels like acres of shade it's time to get planting. Any recommendations for varieties that spread fairly quickly?

Garden Lily said...

I have a pink and a yellow one, growing side by side, and I treasure them. I love the foliage shape and color, and the delight of discovering the flowers in Spring - yes, you need to look closely for them!

Dennis said...

Great title! Excellent pics. Here is a link from Plant Delights Nursery that contains a list of many of the latest Epimedium cultivars plus an article on their history, and cultivation:
Epi article

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