Chinese meadow-rue – planting, care and tips

Flowers of Chinese meadow-rue
Flowers of Chinese meadow-rue (Thalictrum delavayi) - by Karelj

The Chinese meadow-rue is one of the most elegant large perennials. Find out here how to use their beautiful effect in the garden.

Profile of Chinese meadow-rue:

Scientific name: Thalictrum delavayi

Plant family: buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)

Other names: Lavender Mist (Eng.)

Sowing time: spring

Planting time: spring and autumn

Flowering period: July to September

Location: partially shaded

Soil quality: sandy to loamy, humus rich

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, bouquets, borders, flower garden, natural garden, park, forest garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 5

Bee and insect friendly: YES

Plant characteristics and classification of Chinese meadow-rue

Plant order, origin and occurrence of Chinese meadow-rue

The Chinese meadow-rue (Thalictrum delavayi) comes from western China. The tall, filigree perennial is named after the French missionary and explorer Pierre Jean Marie Delavay (1834-1895). He discovered the plant during his mission in Yunnan. The Chinese meadow-rue belongs to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae).

Characteristics of Chinese meadow-rue


The pretty perennial initially forms a loose leaf crest. From this the flower stem rises, which is more and more delicately leafed upwards. Due to the loosely branched panicles of flowers, the tall shrub looks elegant and filigree despite a height of 120 to 180 centimeters (4 to 6 ft). In locations that suit it, it can tower up to two and a half meters (8 ft 4 in). Always have a perennial support or stick ready to tie the perennial.


The finely divided leaves of the Chinese meadow-rue resemble the leaves of columbines, but are more delicate and a beautiful decoration.


From July to August, sometimes till September, the filigree flowers of Thalictrum delavayi appear. Viewed from a distance, the panicle-shaped inflorescences made of tiny single flowers unfold a real veil effect. It looks particularly nice in the morning dew or after a rain shower. In England, the Chinese meadow-rue are called “Lavender Mist”. If you take a closer look at the fragrant clouds of flowers, you can see what the reason for this is: pale yellow stamens hang from the pink to lavender-colored petals. The flowers are also ideal as cut flowers.

Chinese meadow-rue – cultivation and care


The Chinese meadow-rue thrives best in the light shade of tall trees. However, if it is too shady and too dry, it tilts more easily than it already does. It is short-lived in locations that it doesn’t like.


The Chinese meadow-rue places higher demands on the soil than the columbine meadow-rue (Thalictrum aquilegifolium). The attractive species needs a deep, well-drained, fresh humus soil that can be slightly acidic.


You can plant potted perennials from the nursery all season. Spring and autumn are suitable for transplanting. In the case of an planting in autumn, you should cut down the faded plant before replanting.


You can grow both the species and the white form from seeds. Sowing takes place in spring. Division is also possible to propagate the plants. Normally no division of Thalictrum delavayi is necessary.


If the drought persists, the Chinese meadow-rue should be watered.


Adding some compost or organic fertilizers (e.g. horn shavings) in spring is recommended


If you have chosen a suitable location, Thalictrum delavayi is easy to care for. Do not cut back the plant until it no longer looks beautiful. If you prune the blooming inflorescences, only cut them up to the upper stem leaves. They turn pretty yellow in autumn. You only cut them completely in late autumn.

Diseases and pests

Thalictrum delavayi is largely spared from plant diseases and pests.


Winter protection is only advisable in very rough locations and with the somewhat more sensitive, filled form ‘Hewitt’s Double’.

Use in the garden

In bright shady areas, the tall species is an eye-catcher. You can place them as solitary on a turn or with other perennials such as Japanese anemone and aconite at the end of a sight line. If you place the Chinese meadow-rue between loosely growing shrubs in the wooded area, it can lean against and creates an almost fairy-like atmosphere.

The mysterious veil effect can also be used in the herbaceous border. Where the edge of the bed lies in the light shadow is its perfect place. With its fragrant transparency, the Chinese meadow-rue behind or next to phlox and milky bellflower (Campanula lactiflora) ensures lightness. Or you can combine Thalictrum delavayi with tall ornamental grasses such as maiden silvergrass (Miscanthus) and small reed (Calamagrostis).


The double flower variety ‘Hewitt’s Double’ creates flower clouds from small pompom-shaped flowers in a pretty pink violet. It blooms for a particularly long time and remains 80 to 120 centimeters (32 to 48 in) lower than the other varieties. But is is not svisited by bees or other insects.

The white selection ‘album’ does not reach a height of more than one meter (40 in). ‘Splendide’ shows a little more pink in the flower color.

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