By Morag Flight

Scientific Name: Ligularia tussilaginea

Gigantea is an evergreen foliage plant that has large, rounded, leathery leaves and daisy-like yellow flowers. There are 150 species in the Ligularia genus. Most of these have lovely ornamental foliage, and this variety occasionally has yellow flowers. In Europe and Asia, they are commonly seen near water. They also thrive in and are aesthetically pleasing when planted in containers and in the border. They are perfect for those difficult shade areas where the rich lush brilliant green foliage creates a lovely statement. I have mine in a pot by the back door covering a drain hole.

The leaf is large-toothed or notched and produce spires of yellow flowers in late summer. The plants have a mounding habit, with some species carrying the foliage on long petioles. The name is derived from the Latin “ligula,” which means little tongue, and refers to the shape of the florets on the flower spire. The plants grow from seed or division. They do not like being dry so some old oasis or a water-retaining material will increase moisture retention in pots.

The planting instructions state that you must plant the crown at least five cm below the soil level. Apply mulch around the plants to help conserve moisture. The leaves are prone to becoming scorched when the bright midday sun burns them. However, don’t worry if the foliage wilts after planting or in the summer heat as the ornamental leaves are sensitive to excess heat or disturbance. After temperatures cool down in the evening, the foliage will perk up and look fresh again.

This is an easy plant as long as site selection meets its needs. The most common problems with ragwort plants are slug and snail damage, and lack of water. Water the plants deeply every week or as needed in warm weather to keep the soil moist. Cut off any dead or damaged leaves to the base. When the plant goes dormant in winter, place three inches of mulch over the crown. Remove it when the flowers begin to sprout. Just be careful as some parts of the plant can be poisonous if ingested.

Photographs provided by Morag Flight

Flight Morag. Ndeipi magazine issue 100.

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