Plants for shade
puhl-muohn-AIR-ee-uh = lungworts, Bethlehem sage, cowslip.
There are maybe as many as 12 species
of Pulmonaria that are in the Borage family (Boraginaceae)
The Lungworts are a nice group of Plants for the semi shady garden. They like moist soil but do very well in average garden soil too. Most are fast growers, producing multiply offset each year. Leaves are large, low growing with hairy tops and undersides. The early spring blooming flowers resemble ‘Virginia blue- bell's. The leaves are simple, large, hairy, and green with a few species spotted.
Some species are evergreen but most are deciduous with attractive rosettes of leaves and flowers emerging from the ground in very early spring . Plants start to flower in early spring and bloom for a few weeks (April - June.) Flowering stems rise from the top of the plant which many times may still have green leaves after winter. The flowering stems have small leaves and flowers are in clustered cymes. Most plants have funnel shaped flowers with somewhat flaring mouths and small notches on the petal apexes. The petals are fused together into one corolla which is an identifing characteristic of the family Boranginaceae.
Flower colors can be red, blue, white or violet. With some species having
red-pink flower buds , opening up to reddish - violet and then turning
blue as they age. Flowers close at night and open again in the morning.
New leaves begin to grow a few days to weeks after the first flowers open. The first flowers may open when stems are only 1 inch out of the ground and more flowers open over the next few weeks as the stems reach their full height, which is generally around 10-18 inches for most forms.
Roots are white and thickly fibrous showing the typical size and structur for plants adapted for damp and wet soils.
Pulmonaria should be planted in a somewhat shady area, like under deciduous trees. They like spring sunshine and morning light. They do not like hot afternoon heat- wilting under the intense heat and light of the summer sun. Plants are not that good in hot humid climates, were they will go dormant in summer and begin to grow again in late summer or early fall, when the temperature is cooler. They also suffer from powdery mildew under these conditions.
Pulmonaria are valuable shade to semi
shade plants with showy
early spring flowers and attractive rosettes of basal leaves.
In their native environments the lungworts grow on a wide range of soils from acid to alkaline, dry to wet, sunny to shady, along streams and in mountains.
They hybridize freely when their populations
over lap, making identification imprecise many times.
Lungworts make great ground covers when grown well. Mix with Hosta, Astilbe, Epimedium, or grow under Day lilies or Peonies or any large shrub. Great under large Oak trees! Plants grow best with bright shade and some morning sun, water often during dry hot summers to keep foliage looking fresh or mow off during these periods and new growth will form as summer cools down.
HOW TO GROW:
Plant in humus rich, moist, well draining soils, that are rich and cool. Full to part shade. Divide ever three to five years. Mulch in the fall to protect plants over winter in exposed locations. Water in mid summer to keep plants from going dormant in the summer heat and to keep actively growing. Spray with a fungicide if you wish to control mildew.
Pulmonaria do not like real dry soils that are hot. Afternoon sun way wilt plants but they tend to recover in the evening if the soil is not unduly dry. Powdery mild in dry locations or were the summers are very hot and humid. Slugs and snails might feed on new growth. Woodchucks will eat them if hungry (when is a woodchuck not hungry!) Plants can self-seed heavily if happy. Plants also are quick to wake up in the spring and may freeze off in a late frost if it is a hard freeze <26F. But light frosts do not effect them.
If applying a heavy winter mulch - remember to remove it early and carefully so that the new flowering stems are not damaged.
Seed is good sized, black, shiny and ripe in mid to late summer. After Flowering, the stems lay on the ground, as new leaves are grown. Seed is not easy to collect, each flower might produce seed but only one seed per flower. As the seed nears the point of ripping it is very easily dislodged from the plant making it a rare find to collect ripe seeds from the old flowers. The use of some kind of drop cloth, like cheese cloth or old pantyhose might be helpful in collecting seed as they are dislodged.If you want to collect seed place the drop cloth down around the plants three or four weeks before the seeds ripen and collect them as the fall out of the flowers onto the drop cloth. Seeds should be sown as soon as collected and given a period of freezing. Or plant out in a pot over winter or in a seedbed.
Plants germinate in mid spring and grow fairly fast. Flowering in their second or third year.
Lungworts hybridize freely in cultivation- so seed will not "come true" - but most plants should be worth growing unless you have a difficult location- (high humidity all day) were the cultivars are much more adaptable.
Division should be done in spring or late summer and root cuttings taken in early summer propagate well. Tissue culture/micro-propagation is now the predominate means of propagation in the nursery trade.
Below is listed some of the species.
P. angustifolia = an-gus-tih-FOE-lee-uh "Blue Cowslip" or "Blue lungwort"
8-12 inches tall with a spread of 18
inches. Leaves 7 - 13 inches long, green with out spots, lance shaped.
Flowering stems come up erect and as flowering progresses they drop, when
flowering is done and seed production begins stems may be flat with the
ground or subsumed under the new foliage. Flowers
a nice blue color and reddish - pink in bud. Early to late spring. Native
from central to North east-to-eastern Europe.
Plants spread out to form open clusters of plants.
Zones (2) 4-8.
Subspecies azurea = has bright gentian blue colored flowers with reddish buds.
= lon-gih-FOE-lee-uh "Long Leaved Lungwort" or "Longleaf Lungwort"
Grows in dense clumps, with deciduous leaves that are narrow and lance shaped and pointed at the tips. Leaves 9-19 inches long dark green with silver gray white spots. Flowers open pink and turn bright blue. Long flowering with many flowers crowded into dense cymes producing a nice show.
From Western Europe, including Sweden and the British isles. 8-12 inches tall and 18-24 inches wide.
Cult. ‘Bertram Anderson' = has longer but narrower leaves with more distinct markings than the species. Bright blue flowers.
P. mollis = Strong growing- forming large clumps - deciduous (not evergreen) none spotted leaves from 12-18 inches long. Blooming very early with deep blue flowers with a few plants blue tinged with pink. Flowers aging to purplish pink. 15-18 inches high and to 2.5 feet wide. Belgium France, Germany. Zones? 6-8.
officinalis = "Common Lungwort"
Leaves heart shaped at the base roughly hairy, white spotted most of the time.
Flowers Pink then turning purplish blue. Native from Holland to Sweden down to Italy and to Bulgaria. Found growing in moist somewhat peaty soils in mixed deciduous woods.
Var. Immaculata = does not have spots.
Cult. ‘Alba' = has white flowers.
These plants were once used medicinally to treat lung problems thus the name Pulmonaria and lungwort. The plants were said to look like lungs so logically they must be for lung problems- or so it was said in late medieval times.
= ROO-bruh "Red Lungwort"
leaves 5-7 inches long. Plants tall from 12-27 inches with somewhat lax stems with coral - red flowers. Plants form scattered clumps with some what evergreen unspotted leaves. Leaves are pointed and somewhat diamond shaped, stems and leaves very hairy. Long blooming period in the spring. Native in South East Europe (Carpathian and Balkan Mts.). Zones (4) 5-8
VAR. Albocorollata syn. Alba = has white flowers and grows about 10 to 12 inches tall.
P. saccharata = sah-kah-RAH-tuh "Bethlehem Sage" The most commonly grown lungwort with more or less evergreen leaves medium green with white spots that over lap some what. Leaves 8- 12 inches long and 5-8 inches wide and hairy. Stem leaves large. Blooming in early spring- for me this is the first plant to bloom. Flower buds purple violet to reddish purple opening to flower blue- violet. Native from France to Italy. Zones 4-8
‘Mrs. Moon' = large leaves and pink buds
and flowers turning to blue.
‘Janet Fisk' = has large very nicely spotted leaves and lavender pink flowers.
‘Sissinghurst White' = has white flowers on plants about the size of Mrs. Moon, but the spots on the leaves are more showy.
= from the east Alps comes this attractive plant with rounded, splotched
Plants with blue flowers blooming in April and May. Stems 10-15 inches tall and upright.
= Clump forming deciduous plants with dark green wavy marginated leaves.
Leaves smaller than most Pulmonaria growing to 8 inches in length and having greenish to whitish spots. Plants blooming in early spring with violet flowers turning purple with age.
Plants 5-13 inches in height. Zones? 6-8.
Pulmonaria in the landscape:
Great plants for the spring garden- plant
under deciduous trees and shrubs. Mix in with Hosta and spring bulbs. Plants
are tough and adaptable taking some drought once established.
Lungworts make showy ground covers and the newer forms are great specimen plants too.
Cut off old flowering stems to prevent seeding and to tidy up the clumps.
Plants can be grown under large clumps of day lilies and Peonies. They look outstanding in large drifts mixed with ferns and Astilbe. Mass plantings are eye caching and individual plants will over a few years grow into large clumps.
Here is a modest checklist of the cultivars that are grown.
Many new and improved cultivars are coming on the market every year. The inclusion of new genes from species out of Russia and northern Europe and Asia has brought dramatic new features and improved garden performance.
Click here for some pictures. Warning not a fast download but worth it.
For more Pictures check out this good selection HERE
Some new PULMONARIA from Terra Nova
Pulmonaria 'Polar Splash'
In our trials, 'PS' proved to be bar-none, the most brilliantly spotted form we have. Frosty cool. Some wonderful winter purpling.
Blue to pink flowers. Zones 4-9. Shade to partial sun.
Pulmonaria 'Purple Haze' Light foggy purple
flowers literally cover this new 'spotted dog' (It's an old
English name). Leaves are short petioled and form a
tight mound of well-spotted foliage. Robust habit. Zones
4-9. 1/2 sun.
Pulmonaria 'Reginald Kaye' This British offering
has been termed endearingly as a 'thug' by Vanessa Cook
of Stillingfleet, but what a great thug! Great highly
silvered foliage and outstanding vigor make this a great
plant for American gardens. Flower spikes have tightly
packed heads of pinkish red buds, which open to violet
flowers. Admired and named by Beth Chatto for the
plantsman Reginald Kay
Links to other sights with info on Pulmonaria. HERE Pulmonaria in America
by Dan Heims
" Relegated to grandma's
shade garden for too many years, Pulmonaria are beginning to
have a resurgence in popularity. Pest resistant, slug resistant, hardy and attractive are all
traits of this genus. Newer forms, especially those derived from Pulmonaria villarsae
have shown tremendous mildew resistance, a bane to older forms. "