Pulmonaria or Lungwort gets into the top 5 of shade garden plants because it blooms very early, blooms for a long time, has interesting leaves for summer appeal and is quite a hardy plant.
What’s not to like?
Pulmonaria ‘Cotton Cool’ Image courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries
Here are the details.
- Grow this plant in shade or part shade conditions. In full sun, you might find Lungworth a little floppy although it will survive.
- Give Lungwort a decent soil with adequate summer moisture. This is not a plant for the dry shade or it will simply wither away.
- Do not give it clay soil as it will rot over the winter.
- Similarly, in a deeply mulched garden, pull the mulch away from the crown of this plant or you’ll kill it with excessive moisture.
- Grow it in a good “forest-soil” one that has a high concentration of organic matter (dig in compost and/or peat moss) and regular waterings.
- What you may find with Lungwort is that if you abuse it in any way, it will simply fade away. It will come back the following spring! (so don’t give up hope) It responds to abuse (too hot, too much sun etc) by disappearing.
In high humidity conditions, this plant is prone to powdery mildew and it can quickly disfigure the leaves. The symptom is white powdery areas that then turn black. Plant in early morning sun to combat this problem if you see it in your garden. Powdery mildew research article here although I haven’t tried this on Pulmonaria. Note: it’s always good to try new sprays on a few leaves and not the entire plant.
If Your Pulmonaria Gets Leaf Problems
It doesn’t matter what the problem was – too much sun, powdery mildew etc – if you cut the leaves back on this plant to the ground, it will regrow fresh new leaves. Caution – this is only something I’d do with an otherwise healthy plant. If the plant has been struggling, your real option is to dig and move it to a better location in the fall or very early spring (preferred if the plant is sick)
Propagation and Hardiness
The easiest for the home garden is to divide Lungwort in early spring or in fall.
Lungwort is hardy right down to USDA zone 2/3 (2 if protected in the winter)
There are some very interesting Lungwort varieties in garden centers now and the leaves come in a wide variety of shapes, shades of green as well as variegations.
This is a good combination plant with hosta because of the choices in leaf variations.
- Pulmonaria ‘Baby Blue’ This is the tightest, most compact, mounded form to date and it won’t grow to split in the center. Flowers age to a beautiful baby blue.
- Pulmonaria ‘Majeste’ Solid silvery-gray leaves with a very narrow green margin. In late spring, light pink buds pop open to reveal darker bluish-pink flower bells.
- Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Ice’ Long, frosted green leaves edged in pearl with raspberry pink flower clusters provide a stark contrast, and really seem to light this plant up.
- Pulmonaria ‘Raspberry Splash’ raspberry-pink flower clusters dance among the dark green, silver-spotted leaves in late spring. One of the more upright growing habit and profuse bloomers.
- Pulmonaria ‘Samourai’ Blue flowers are produced in late spring. The long leaves are pure silver.
- Pulmonaria ‘Silver Shimmers’ Clusters of relatively large, steel-blue flowers are suspended above the long, wavy foliage which remains low. The leaves are heavily saturated with silver.
- Pulmonaria longifolia ‘Bertram Anderson’ Gentian blue flowers emerging from fuchia buds in late spring. Like other P. longifolia, ‘Bertram Anderson’ has long, narrow leaves heavily spotted with silver.
- Pulmonaria ‘Diana Clare’ apple green leaves dipped in silver keep their color all season long. Their long, pointed leaves contrast well with the violet-blue flowers
- Pulmonaria longifolia ‘Roy Davidson’ mounded foliage of ‘Roy Davidson’ is heavily spotted with silver and are long and narrow. One of the smaller varieties.
- Pulmonaria officinalis ‘Sissinghurst White’ White flowering, the leaves are speckled with silver.
- Pulmonaria saccharata ‘Mrs. Moon’ an older variety, it has mounded, silver spotted foliage. In late spring, magenta-pink buds open to bright blue bell-shaped flowers.
Lungwort is a fine shade garden plant and I confess, one of my favorites.