Thalictrum is a plant of shady damp settings or stream sides. The more sun you give it, the more water you have to provide. Do not allow this plant to dry out in the sunshine.
You can grow meadow rue (named after Rue because it shares the lacy foliage shape and meadow because it is found in damp meadows).
Generally it will grow best in a rich organic soil that is high in humus. But note it can be a short-lived plant (3-5 years)
Thalictrum ‘Black Stockings’ Image courtesy Terra Nova Nurseries
- It does best in part shade to shade spots in damp soils. If you try to grow it in hot, dry sun, you’ll fry it.
- Rich organic soils so do add a shovel of compost in the spring over top of the mulch. (you are using mulch aren’t you?) 🙂
- You can propagate them from seed or from division in early spring or mid-fall. The leaves resemble a finely cut columbine.
- Hardy: USDA 5-9
- Flowers: Spring
Landscape Use of Thalictrum
The flowers tend to the pinks and pink-mauves although there are a few white cultivars around and you’ll see blooms in mid to late summer.
There are approximately 130 species of Thalictrum and you’ll see them used in two spots in gardens. The first is rock gardens with the shorter plants and the second is shade gardens with the taller varieties. Streams or water side plantings will thrive.
The shade garden varieties will be discussed below and these should be easily found at better garden shops.
Plants to Look For
T. aquilegifolium 24 to 36 inches tall and large sprays of purple mauve flowers. The compact growth habit is upright and the foliage quite fernlike. The variety ‘Thundercloud’ is 24 inches tall and has darker purple flowers. A white form is pictured below.
T. delavayi. grows tall and has sprays of mauve to lilac flowers held above the cut-shaped foliage. Tends to be a “leaner” and will need support. ‘Hewitt’s Double’ is 48 to 60 inches tall and covered in double mauve flowers. A showy plant but too high fertility levels may mean that the plant requires staking.
Thalictrum flavum subsp glaucum. Once you get your tongue around the name (or you can call it Yellow Meadowrue) you’ll find this is an interesting plant. It has glaucous blue foliage and 2 to 4 inch wide pyramid shaped yellow panicles of flowers. (a combination of blue and yellow is a show-stopper) Slight fragrance and you’ll need a USDA zone 5 to grow this semi-tender plant.
T. rochebrunianum is an excellent garden performer, growing to 36 inches tall with finely cut leaves, it has violet flowers in large showy heads. ‘Lavender Mist’ has lavender coloured flowers on tall dark purple stems. Rarely needs staking and the foliage makes a nice mound rather than being open as are most.
T. kiusianum is a Japanese native that is a good plant for a shade groundcover. Spreads slowly and not invasive.