Here’s how to grow pulmonaria for blooms in the spring flowering garden. Pulmonaria or Lungwort is known for its spotted silver markings on the leaves. While its nectar rich flowers are just so irresistible to the bumble bees. Quite a bit of my garden is cool, moist and shady and the soil can be so difficult to work. So this little woodland plant is just perfect for those conditions. The first one to flower each year for me is Pulmonaria rubra and this one has plain green leaves.
How to grow Pulmonaria rubra
It can be a bit of a thug! But I over look that as it gives me a coral pink colour in the garden when there is little else flowering in the last few weeks of winter. In fact it’s still in flower during April and early May. The only things I would suggest are to deadhead before it sets seed. And cut back the leaves later in the season as they just start to take over in the border and become very large.
The leaves are very coarse so I suggest using gloves. I’m sure in the past that I’ve come out in a rash when working with these leaves.
I have a few unnamed older varieties that came from our previous gardens which I’m sure are our native pulmonarias. They are so colourful as they have much more of a variety of coloured blooms ranging from pink to blue on the same plant compared to the others in the garden.
Out of all of the other pulmonarias in the garden the bees much prefer these plants.
Unfortunately these plants are very susceptible to mildew so if it gets an attack I cut all the leaves off. Then I give the plants a feed of blood, fish and bonemeal and it doesn’t take long for new fresh growth to appear.It probably doesn’t help that some of the clumps are growing in a drier spot in the sun which also makes them even more susceptible to mildew.
Pulmonaria longifolia Diana Clare
Now if you have only room for one plant then this should be your choice as it grows into an impressive sized clump of leaves and starts to flower with violet blue flowers in late March. The leaves are large with lovely silver spotted markings in the spring but by Summer time the leaves are nearly completely covered in silver. After buying a small plant last Spring it has now grown in the shade to at least 1.5 foot spread and a height of about 10 inches tall. Thankfully this plant isn’t susceptible to mildew.
Pulmonaria Raspberry Splash
This plant has nice raspberry red/pink flowers and long elongated spotted leaves. It too was a new addition to the garden last year and has established really well. The leaves are elongated with silver markings. But I’m sure that the leaves last year took on a yellowish tinge as the season progressed. I didn’t have any problems with mildew on this plant last summer either.
These little blooms are pale blue on good silver marked leaves and have just started to flower. It’s not as vigorous as Diana Clare or Raspberry Splash but it still has formed a good clump after being in the garden for just one year. This plant is near the back of a border along with the Erythroniums. I don’t know if it had mildew or not last summer as I just couldn’t see that far back into the border as the other herbaceous plants matured.
Pulmonaria Blue Ensign
This seems to be the least vigorous in the garden for me. It has plain green leaves with the most beautiful deep sapphire blue flowers. Very few of the flower buds have opened yet so for me this is the latest to flower in the garden. This plant dies away completely during the summer months. So yet again no need to worry about mildew with this one!
By the way there’s a more detailed updated 2017 blog post and photos here: Growing Pulmonaria.
Rosie is a garden photographer, writer and nature lover. She enjoys soaking up nature and is easily distracted from doing the weeding by anything that flutters, flies, buzzes, creeps or crawls! She enjoys sharing the beauty of creation through her photography. Rosie has been featured on TV on BBC2's The Beechgrove Garden and she uses the Scottish outdoors as her natural light studio. Her work can be seen at the only photographic gallery in Scotland - Close Gallery, 4b Howe Street, Edinburgh.