Ligularia stenocephala – The Rocket; Commonly called Senco or Leopard plant. This is a stately, noble specimen plant with huge leathery leaves. Give this moisture lover room as it can reach heights of 5 feet and easily 5 feet across. The leaves are serrated and deep green on top, with dark maroon/ green on the reverse side and on the stems. We use these huge leaves for making leaf castings. Tall spikes of golden yellow flowers start to climb above the foliage in mid to late summer and are a hummingbird favorite. The plant produces a large number of seeds, but don’t worry, you will not have a million seedlings; the plant is sterile. The plant will do well in part sun to mostly shade and is hardy here in northern WI (zone 4). Ligularia will live in most soils but prefers a rich moist soil. It will tolerate an overly moist soil, but not too much humidity. If the soil is too dry the plant will droop rather than die and in that case will need supplemental watering. There is a light sweet fragrance and the name means sweet smelling roots in Japanese which is where the species is from.
This gorgeous specimen plant is brilliant in the back of a shady border or at the ponds edge, and hardy to zone 3. They get 3 feet tall with a 4 foot spread, and heart shaped leaves that can be a foot across. The foliage emerges burgundy with the leaves turning dark green on the top side, but holding their burgundy color on the underside and stems. Golden to orange/yellow daisy-like flowers emerge in July. Desdemona likes wet soil, and will benefit from part to full shade; but really this architectural beauty is quite easy and will do fine in nearly any conditions. They will take some sun and do fine with less than optimal water.
A 3 to 5 foot tall native perennial with an equally wide spread. It is great on a prairie or in a wild garden. In the border just be aware that you will need to give it space and consider removing the seed heads if you don’t want too many seedlings. The Branched stems have masses of sunflower-like heads. The petals as well as the cone-shaped center disk are yellow. The 2 inch flowers are nicer than “real” native sunflowers because the petals remain though out the summer and into fall where the sunflower petals fade as the seeds are produced. It tolerates both dry sandy soil and clay and needs little care other than to cut it back when it is done. You can do this in spring if you like the branching skeleton for winter interest. This multipurpose butterfly magnet is great for arrangements and doubles as a bird feeder.$4.00
Alan Bloom 1943
A sieboldiana hybrid from England with very large heart shaped cupped and puckered leaves.
The blue foliage is finely ribbed.
It has 36” scapes bearing near white flowers. Best if well watered. An old fashioned Blue.
The large clumps can be more than 3 feet across and 2 feet tall. The heavy leaves are slug resistant.