Rodgersia is often over looked, although it been a standby in gardens, especially English ones, for a very long time. Dormant in winter, it comes into its own in late spring and early summer, with foliage pushing up from a basal clump.
Fingerleaf Rodgersia lives up to its name with pinnate leaves above rigid stems followed by long tendrils of flowers, made up of tiny flowerets tightly lining its erect stems, that look like old-fashioned pipe cleaners. Though not flashy, its flowers are abundant and long lasting. They range in color from white to red, depending on the variety. ‘Bronze Peacock’, for instance, is known for huge dark-bronze foliage like peacock feathers and huge spikes of dark pink flowers in spring. All parts of the Rodgersia plant have tiny, bristle-like hairs. The result is an almost prehistoric look akin to Rhubarb or Gunnera.
Rodgersia adds bold texture to the garden. It can combine nicely with more delicate plants in a border or serve as a clump form as part of a composition with other ornamental plants.
This is a strong plant that is truly versatile, tolerating an impressive spectrum of light and moisture levels. While often associated with shady damp spots near water, Rodgersia will also do well in full sun in the maritime Pacific Northwest, as long it is not allowed to dry out. I prefer it in part sun or shade which results in richer, darker green leaves. The plant’s big foliage and upright stem create shadows that are most dramatic in dappled light.
Be sure to leave plenty of room for your Rodgersia. Over time some varieties will top four feet high and grow at least that wide, with flowers extending above that.
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