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An umbrella of a botanical sort

7/11/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Dayle Davis

Umbrella plant produces flower bud stalks in early spring that open just before the leaves begin to emerge from the ground, shown at right. Shown above is a closeup of the flower.
Within a month of bloom, the leaves of the umbrella plant grow tall and large, towering over the space they occupy in the soil.
Photos: Dayle Davis
GREATER AKRON — A great perennial grows in a somewhat shady area of my garden where the soil stays wet most of the year. It is Peltiphyllum peltatum, commonly known as umbrella plant and native to the Northwestern United States. Umbrella plant grows from 18 inches to 3 feet in height, depending on the moisture level of the soil.

I grow this plant for its foliage, although clusters of pretty, soft pink flowers bloom in early spring on tall stalks that rise directly from the rhizomes. I almost never see the flowers, however, because I usually don’t get to that area of the garden until the blooms have faded.

After bloom is complete, umbrella-like leaves from 6 to 18 inches across begin to emerge almost directly from the ground on 18-inch to 3-foot stalks. This plant is superb for that wet spot in the back corner of your garden or for a shady waterside planting. It will grow in moist shade in normal garden soils but can tolerate some sun to partial shade. Remember the moister the soil, the bigger the plant.

The foliage lasts the entire summer, but leaf edges can get a bit crusty in the heat of summer.

If you’d like to try your hand at growing shade or partial shade plants that like moisture, here is a partial list of annuals and perennials suitable for moist, wet soil or boggy soil:

Note the different shade variables next to each plant name — deep shade (D), medium shade (M) or intermittent shade (I). Deep shade never receives any direct sunlight and is found at the base of the north side of buildings or other structures, under the boughs of needled evergreens or low-branching broadleaf evergreen trees and shrubs. Foliage plants may grow here, but few plants flower, if at all. Areas of medium shade are those under densely branched, deciduous trees in leaf, areas receiving reflected light or on the north side of buildings with unobstructed sky. Most plants will grow in medium shade but not necessarily thrive, and sufficient light is received for flower production on some, like impatiens. Partial or intermittent shade is the dappled sunlight shining through sparsely branched, deciduous trees in leaf, the filtered light of arbors or trellises and areas that are sunlit for part of the day but less than six hours.

  • Perennials:

Aconitum spp. — monkshood — I

Adiantum pedatum — northern maidenhair fern — M

Ajuga reptans — bugleweed — I, M

Alchemilla vulgaris — lady’s mantle — I

Anchusa azurea — Italian bugloss — I

Anemone spp. — anemone — I (rich soils)

Aquilegia spp. and hybrids — columbine — I

Aruncus dioicus — goatsbeard — I

Asarum europaeum — European wild ginger — I, M (rich soils)

Aspelnium platyneuron — ebony spleenwort — M, D (alkaline soils)

Asplenium trichomanes — maidenhair spleenwort — M, D (alkaline soils)

Astilbe spp. — astilbe — I, M (rich soils)

Athyrium spp. — lady fern, Japanese painted fern — I, M (moist to wet soils)

Bergenia spp. and hybrids — bergenia — I

Botrychium spp. — grape fern — I (neutral soils)

Brunnera macrophylla — Siberian bugloss — I, M (rich soils)

Campanula spp. — bellflower — I

Camptosorus rhizophyllus — walking fern — I (alkaline, wet soils)

Cheilanthes spp. — lip fern, lace fern — M (dry to moist soils)

Chelone lyonii — turtlehead — I (moist soils)

Chrysogonum virginianum — goldstar — I

Cimicifuga racemosa — black cohosh — I

Cimicifuga simplex — bugbane — I

Convallaria majalis — lily-of-the-valley — I, M, D

Cryptogramma crispa — American rock brake — I

Cystopteris spp. — bladder ferns — M (dry to moist soils)

Dennstaedtia punctilobula — hay—scented fern — I

Dicentra spp. — bleeding heart — I, M

Digitalis spp — foxglove — I

Doronicum cordatum — leopard’s bane — I

Dryopteris spp. — ferns — I, M, D

Epimedium spp. — epimedium — I, M

Equisetum spp. — horsetails — I (neutral, moist to wet soils)

Filipendula spp. — dropwort — I, M (wet soils)

Galium odoratum — sweet woodruff — M, D

Geranium spp. — cranesbill — I

Helleborus spp. — hellebore — I (neutral to alkaline soils)

Hosta spp. — hosta — I, M, D

Heuchera sanguinea — coralbells — I

Ligularia spp. — ragwort — I, M (rich, wet soils)

Liriope spicata — creeping lilyturf — I

Lobelia cardinalis — cardinal flower — I

Lysimachia punctata — loosestrife — M, D (moist to wet soils)

Marsilea quadrifolia — water clover fern — I (wet soils)

Matteuccia struthiopteris — ostrich fern — I, M, D (moist to wet soils)

Mertensia virginica — Virginia bluebells — I, M

Onoclea sensibilis — sensitive fern — I (neutral, wet soils)

Osmunda cinnamomea — cinnamon fern — D (moist to wet soil)

Pellaea spp. — brakes — M (alkaline to neutral, moist to wet soils)

Phyllitis scolopendrium — hart’s-tongue — D (alkaline soils)

Physostegia virginiana — obedience plant — I (can be invasive)

Polemonium caeruleum — Jacob’s ladder — I

Polygonatum spp. — Solomon’s seal — I, M, D

Polygonum capitatum — knotweed — I

Polypodium glycyrrhiza — licorice fern — M

Polypodium vulgare — common polypody — M

Polystichum acrostichoides — Christmas fern — D

Primula spp. — primrose — I (rich soils)

Pteridium aquilinum — bracken fern — I

Pulmonaria angustifolia — lungwort — I, M

Smilacina racemosa — false Solomon’s seal — I, M

Thalictrum spp. — meadow rue — I

Tricyrtis hirta — toad lily — I

Woodsia spp. — woodsia — I (moist to wet soils)

For more information, call The Ohio State University Summit County Extension Hotline Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon at 330-928-4769, ext. 3, and request FactSheet HYG-1243-92, “Herbaceous Ornamentals for Shade.”

Dayle Davis is a freelance writer and avid perennial gardener, with a B.A. in communications and course work in botany, geology and wildflowers. Davis is a master gardener emeritus under The Ohio State University’s Horticultural Extension.

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