Feather leaf rodgersia – planting, care and tips

Feather leaf rodgersia (Rodgersia pinnata)
Feather leaf rodgersia (Rodgersia pinnata) © Baumschule Horstmann

The feather leaf rodgersia has everything you could want from a perennial: striking leaf decorations and beautiful flowers. Here are tips for planting and caring for the all-rounder.

Profile of feather leaf rodgersia:

Scientific name: Rodgersia pinnata

Plant family: saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae)

Other names: –

Planting time: spring and autumn

Flowering period: June to August

Location: partially shaded

Soil quality: sandy to loamy, nutrient rich, humus rich

These information are for temperate climate!

Use in: flower beds, single position, group planting, pond planting, borders, flower garden, natural garden, forest garden

Winter hardiness: hardy, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones: 5 (-26,2 °C / -15 °F)

Bee and insect friendly: Yes

Plant characteristics and classification of feather leaf rodgersia

Plant order, origin and occurrence of feather leaf rodgersia

The feather leaf rodgersia (Rodgersia pinnata) belongs to the small but fine genus of Rodgersia with only seven species, which are popular among gardeners because of their decorative leaves. The plant originally comes from China, more precisely the areas of Yunnan, West Sichuan and Guizhou. There it grows wild at heights between 2,400 and 3,500 meters (7,800 and 11,500 ft) on river banks, on grassy areas and in alder bushes. Rodgersia pinnata belongs to the saxifrage family (Saxifragaceae).

Characteristics of feather leaf rodgersia

Plant

With its large leaves that stand upright and form dense cluster, the robust plant is an eye-catcher in the garden. Depending on the variety, it can be between 100 and 120 centimeters (40 and 48 in) high. Although it grows rather slowly, it is very long-lived and can grow into an impressive foliage plant over the years, which can take an area of a square meter (10 sq ft.) in the garden.

Leaves

The long-stemmed leaves of the feather leaf rodgersia are up to 50 centimeters (25 in) tall and are divided into 7 to 11 leaflets that are usually broadly lanceolate and have a serrated leaf margin. The upper three leaves are slightly petiolate and slightly overlap the lower ones. In the spring, the plant shoots bronze-colored, during the season the leaves turn dark green. It has a shiny surface.

Blossoms

Rodgersia pinnata shows its pretty pink to rose-white flowers between June and August. The single flowers are star-shaped and quite small, but are so numerous in dense panicles that you can see them from a distance. The flower stem is also striking: it has a reddish tinge, with some varieties such as ‘Chocolate Wings’ also clearly colored red.

Fruit

After flowering, the feather leaf rodgersia forms capsule fruits.

Feather leaf rodgersia – cultivation and care

Location

The feather leaf rodgersia feels most comfortable in partially shaded, somewhat sheltered places in the garden, but it also tolerates a little more sun if the soil is sufficiently moist.

Soil

The plant loves fresh to moist soils, but it has a problem with waterlogging. Therefore, make sure that the soil is well drained and ventilated and mix heavy soils with a little sand. In general, Rodgersia pinnata is very adaptable, although the perennial prefers its soil rich in nutrients and humus, and rather low in lime.

Planting

The most important thing in advance: Choose the location carefully. Once planted, you should not replant it anymore, because it is sensitive to this. When choosing a planting site, keep in mind that feather leaf rodgersia can grow very large over time. You can plant in spring and autumn, during the common planting times for perennials.

Propagation

In order to maintain the characteristics typical of the variety, you can only propagate all varieties vegetatively, i.e. by division. The best time to do this is spring. This way you can also rejuvenate the plant.

Care / Fertilization / Watering

In optimal locations, feather leaf rodgersia needs little maintenance. For the look, you can cut the stems back in autumn to late autumn. However, leave them there until spring, because the seed heads are still very decorative even in winter. The fresh buds are a little bit at risk of late frost. For safety reasons, cover the plant with some leaves or brushwood in the event of a late onset of cold.

Since Rodgersia pinnata prefers a fresh to moist soil, it is advisable to spread a mulch layer of composted bark, leaf humus and garden compost around the perennial in spring to better keep the moisture in the soil. At the same time, it is well supplied with nutrients at the start of the new season. In summer, it is a good idea to add a new portion of compost or horn shavings.

Water less often, but rigorously and soaking. This stimulates the plant roots to grow into the deeper layers of the soil, which means they survive dry periods better.

Diseases and pests

The feather leaf rodgersia is robust and less susceptible to plant diseases and pests.

Wintering

The plant is hardy down to -26,1 / -10 °F.

Use in the garden

The feather leaf rodgersia is predestined for planting on the edge of the wood because of its preference for partially shaded places, but it also comes into its own at the edge of the pond. No matter where you plant it, it will definitely be an eye-catcher. The plant appeals best as a solitary, in other words: in a single position. But it can also be combined excellently with other shrubs. Good partners are other shade-tolerant species such as ferns or hostas, but also masterwort (Astrantia) or the Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla) are a nice addition with their fine flowers.

Tip: Since Rodgersia pinnata sprouts very late, you should plant a few bulb flowers around the plant. So instead of bare earth you can see a few splashes of color in the garden.

Varieties

The common species is rarely commercially available, but instead you will find some hybrids, which are mostly created by cultivationg with the chestnut-leaved rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia). These hybrids are assigned to the group of Rodgersia Henrici. These include, for example, the white-flowered ‘White Selection’, the variety ‘Superba’ with great pink flowers and striking bronze leaves or the pink ‘Elegans’.

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