July plant of the month - ligularia

Standing tall, Ligularia 'The Rocket' adds stature to damp areas with its architectural spires of brilliant yellow flowers above large jagged leaves

Ligularia 'The Rocket'Ligularia 'The Rocket' is aptly named, with tall spikes of bright yellow flowers held on sturdy, black stems above large, boldly-toothed leaves. It can reach up to 1.8m and makes a dramatic specimen plant for damp borders or bog gardens.

The roots must be kept moist at all times or it will ‘flop’, but to avoid this, it can be used as an aquatic marginal plant. This will also help to protect the young growth from the attentions of slugs which find it particularly tasty. Plant in full sun but with protection from strong midday rays and drying winds; to help conserve moisture and maintain fertility, apply a generous 5-7cm mulch of well-rotted manure or garden compost each spring.

At Rosemoor, we grow it en masse next to the stream running down to the lake where it sits comfortably with other plants that appreciate a damp soil, including ferns, Rodgersia, Lythrum salicaria and Persicaria. The bronze edged leaves of Rodgersia podophylla complement the yellow of the flowers beautifully; dark red markings on the leaves of Persicaria virginiana var. filiformis 'Compton's Red' have the same effect. A contrast in foliage is provided by the magnificent, bold, royal fern (Osmunda regalis AGM) and the willow-like leaves of Lythrum salicaria.

L. 'The Rocket' can also be found in the Hot Garden, but here it can get dry and it has a tendency to wilt. However, after a night's rest or a summer shower, it perks up and looks fabulous again, making a statement among other yellow flowers and foliage. A particularly effective combination is with Panicum virgatum 'Rehbraun' which has deep red tips to the leaves, complimenting the yellow flowers of the Ligularia and harmonising with the dark stems. Likewise, the foliage of bronze fennel complements it, and adds a light, feathery foliage contrast.

Any self-respecting bog garden, waterside or damp border planting would not be without this statuesque Ligularia. It is more elegant and refined than many of its cousins but with the same bright yellow flowers and toothed, heart-shaped leaves.
 

Discuss this

for the site or to share your experiences on this topic and seek advice from our community of gardeners.

Get involved

We're a UK charity established to share the best in gardening. We want to enrich everyone's life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.