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Plant of the week: Epimedium x rubrum, red barrenwort, Bishop's hat

Epimedium x rubrum, red barrenwort, Bishop's hat

Family: Berberidaceae, Barberry

Hardiness: USDA 5-9, Canada 4b

Bloom: Red with white, small but prolific bloomer. Beautifully dainty. Other varieties bloom pink, violet, yellow and white. Blooms 2-3 weeks mid - late spring.

Hummingbirds are just returning at boom time in my garden and these provide food for these hungry little beauties.

Leaves: Heart shaped tinged with reddish bronze in spring and fall. Lovely mounding shape during summer - solid green or reddish during summer depending on the coolness of their location.

Height: 10-12"

Culture: prefers rich moist soil but are very forgiving plants growing in full sun to deep shade and dry acid soil found under pines and other conifers. But they realy flourish if kept cool and moist.

Propagation: Division in spring or fall. For best results in our zone I prefer spring.

This plant is truly one of the work horses of the perennial garden. Plant a grouping of epimediums under the shade of trees for a medium-height, undulating cover of good-quakity foliage all summer into winter. Some winter they will stay green throughout. Or mix them with astilbes, ferns, and other plants in a shade garden, preferably near a path or front of the border so you can see the dainty flowers. I have them as a visual relief in a large hosta bed under birches and also in a perennial garden with easterly orientation. They are great edging plant because of size and form. They provide restful spots for the eye to rest among the color. They have no major problems, even the deer and rabbits won't eat them. I love this versatile plant.

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