Posted by Aaron Barton on Jun 17th 2021
When planning a garden, it is important to not only keep bloom color and timing in mind, but also the value of foliage interest in the garden. Ligularia (lig-you-l-AIR-ee-ah) of the Aster family, Asteraceae, also known as ragwort, is an animal resistant, late season shady bloomer with bold foliage interest to help keep your garden looking great all season long.
Native to parts of China, Russia, and Japan, most cultivated Ligularia are varieties of Ligularia dentata, known as the bigleaf Ligularia, boasting large, finely-serrated, heart-shaped leaves in shades of deep green and purple. Growing upwards of three feet round with the exception of the compact 12-16" tall 'Pandora,' there are many popular bigleaf varieties including ‘Desdemona’ with its beautiful purple petioles, deep green leaves, and purple veining, ‘Midnight Lady,’ with its bold deep bronze-purple leaves, and ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’ with its large, glossy deep purple leaves with bright red undersides. Additionally, Ligularia stenocephala, including classic varieties such as ‘The Rocket’ and ‘Little Rocket’ offers an alternative ragwort appearance in the garden, with coarsely toothed, triangular green leaves.
Ligularia boast show-stopping late summer blooms, with Ligulara dentata cultivars producing large corymbs of daisy-like golden yellow flowers which rise above the plant in sharp contrast to their foliage in mid to late summer, and provide spectacular color in shadier areas of the garden. Ligularia stenocephala cultivars also bloom bright golden flowers on more narrow bloom spikes, producing smaller flowers on a more compact, yet still impactful corymb.
Ragwort prefer to be planted in wetter areas, thriving in woodland gardens, stream or pond margins, and other consistently moist sites in part to full shade. Provide additional irrigation on hotter days and ammend wth compost annually to preserve moisture and provide the nutrients needed to keep your Ligularia looking great for many seasons to come.