Rodgersia Cultivation: Learn About The Care Of Fingerleaf Rodgersia


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Fingerleaf Rodgersia plants are a perfect accent for the water or bog garden. The large, deeply lobed leaves spread out and resemble the foliage of the horse chestnut tree. The native range of Rodgersia is China to Tibet. The plant prefers a partial sun environment where soils are moist and slightly acidic. Rodgersia cultivation is a tradition in China where it is used as a natural herbal remedy. This beautiful foliage plant is perfect for an Asian garden.

Fingerleaf Rodgersia Plants

Rodgersia plants are best suited for temperate zones but they are known to be hardy down to USDA plant hardiness zone 3. The foliage provides the majority of the appeal of this plant. Flowers are minimal and resemble an astilbe flower spike.

The real selling points are the palmate leaves, which can get up to 12 inches (30 cm.) in width. The deeply veined leaves have five pointed tips, which are favorite snacks of snails and slugs. They unfurl from thick hairy stalks with light mottling. Care of fingerleaf Rodgersia should include slug management to preserve the spectacular foliage. The plant may spread out 3 to 6 feet (0.9 to 1.8 m.) and grows vigorously from rhizomes.

Rodgersia Cultivation

Great foliar shape and form are only a couple of reasons this plant is a must have. The Chinese used it for treatment of arthritis and stomach complaints among other illnesses. It also has antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Rodgersia dies back in winter but renews itself in spring. The tiny white to pink flowers arrive in late spring into midsummer. Choose a moist, compost rich soil in semi-shade to partial sun for growing fingerleaf Rodgersia. Perfect locations include around a water feature or in a woodland rainforest garden. Leave plenty of room for the plant to grow and spread.

Care of Fingerleaf Rodgersia

Proper site location will ensure that Rodgersia plant care is minimal. Water the plant when you first install it until it is firmly established. Thereafter, give the plant supplemental moisture when temperatures are hot or dry conditions exist.

Trim off dead leaves and stems as needed and remove the flower spike when it is spent. Rodgersia will die back in winter, so remove the spent leaves to make room for new ones in early spring. You can also leave the flowers to produce reddish seed heads for autumn interest.

Propagation of Fingerleaf Rodgersia Plants

Grow more Rodgersia from seed or division. Seeds take several seasons to produce the large showy leaves. Every three years it is desirable to divide your mature plant to promote better growth. Dig it up when dormant in late winter or early spring.

Use a clean soil saw or sharp pruners and separate the plant into two pieces. Each piece should have plenty of roots. Replant the pieces in moist but not soggy soil. Follow good Rodgersia plant care and water frequently while the pieces establish. You now have two pieces of a plant that has show stopping foliage and nearly annual appeal.

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Growing Fingerleaf Rodgersia Plants - Information On Rodgersia Plant Care - garden

Chestnut Rodgersia flowers

Chestnut Rodgersia flowers

Resembling leaves of a horse-chestnut, this Chinese native requires a large area to grow and display its huge plumes of creamy-white flowers that tower above the large leaves even one is an ideal specimen in the garden

Chestnut Rodgersia features bold plumes of lightly-scented creamy white flowers rising above the foliage from late spring to early summer. The flowers are excellent for cutting. Its attractive large serrated oval palmate leaves emerge brown in spring, turning light green in color. As an added bonus, the foliage turns a gorgeous coppery-bronze in the fall. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Chestnut Rodgersia is an herbaceous perennial with a rigidly upright and towering form. Its wonderfully bold, coarse texture can be very effective in a balanced garden composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Chestnut Rodgersia is recommended for the following landscape applications

  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Bog Gardens

Chestnut Rodgersia will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity extending to 5 feet tall with the flowers, with a spread of 5 feet. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 4 feet apart. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.

This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It prefers to grow in moist to wet soil, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone over the growing season to conserve soil moisture. This species is not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division.


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Fingerleaf Rodgersia foliage

Fingerleaf Rodgersia foliage

This attractive shade-loving groundcover is grown both for its large palm-like leaves that emerge a deep chocolate color, as well as the plumes of airy white flowers that tower above must have evenly moist soil

Fingerleaf Rodgersia features bold plumes of lightly-scented rose flowers rising above the foliage from late spring to early summer. Its attractive large textured oval palmate leaves emerge dark brown in spring, turning dark green in colour throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant. The red stems are very colorful and add to the overall interest of the plant.

Fingerleaf Rodgersia is an herbaceous perennial with a rigidly upright and towering form. Its wonderfully bold, coarse texture can be very effective in a balanced garden composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Fingerleaf Rodgersia is recommended for the following landscape applications

  • Vertical Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Bog Gardens

Fingerleaf Rodgersia will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity extending to 5 feet tall with the flowers, with a spread of 4 feet. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 3 feet apart. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.

This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It prefers to grow in moist to wet soil, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone over the growing season to conserve soil moisture. This species is not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division.


The Plant Guide

This species has palmate, wrinkled leaves that extend to 2 feet wide. The veins and leaf stalks are reddish-brown and densely woolly. In midsummer, the 2-foot-long, upright flower spikes are made up of white or pink florets.

Noteworthy CharacteristicsThe stature of Rodgersias adds drama and definition to gardens in full sun and partial shade. The leaves are strongly textured and may be tinged bronze they pair well with finely-textured plants. They are at home by water, in a woodland, or in other moist garden sites.

CareGrow in humus-rich, moist soil in partial shade to full sun.

PropagationDivide in early spring. Sow seed in a cold frame in spring.

ProblemsSlugs.

  • Genus : Rodgersia
  • Plant Height : 3 to 6 feet
  • Plant Width : 3 to 6 feet
  • Zones : 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Tolerance : Frost Tolerant
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Uses : Ground Covers
  • Maintenance : Low
  • Moisture : Medium to Wet
  • Growth Rate : Moderate
  • Plant Type : Perennials
  • Flower Color : Pink, White
  • Characteristics : Showy Foliage
  • Bloom Time : Spring
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest


Fingerleaf Rodgersia, Rodgers Flower (Rodgersia aesculifolia)

Features

Thrives in constantly wet areas where most plants would fail. Worth growing for beautiful foliage alone. Plants produce tall, graceful spires of colorful blooms.

Appropriate near water and in damp woodland settings. Perfect for use in swampy areas and areas around ponds, lakes and streams. Superb backing plant for mixed borders.

Plant Feed

Annually with organic matter.

Watering

Do not allow soil to dry out.

Basic Care Summary

Grow in fertile, humus-rich soil. Do not allow soil to dry out. Apply a summer mulch to retain moisture. Remove faded flowers for best display.

Planting Instructions

Perennials can be planted anytime from spring through fall.

Prepare the garden by breaking up the existing soil (use a hoe, spade, or power tiller) to a depth of 12-16” (30-40cm). Add organic matter such as manure, peat moss or garden compost until the soil is loose and easy to work. Organic ingredients improve drainage, add nutrients, and encourage earthworms and other organisms that help keep soil healthy. Give plants an extra boost by adding a granulated starter fertilizer or all-purpose feed that encourages blooming (for example fertilizers labeled 5-10-5).

Check the plant label for suggested spacing and the mature height of the plant. Position plants so that taller plants are in the center or background of the landscape design and shorter plants in the foreground. To remove the plant from the container, gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot.

Dig the hole up to two times larger than the root ball and deep enough that the plant will be at the same level in the ground as the soil level in the container. Grasping the plant at the top of the root ball, use your finger to lightly rake the roots apart. This is especially important if the roots are dense and have filled up the container. Set the plant in the hole.

Push the soil gently around the roots filling in empty space around the root ball. Firm the soil down around the plant by hand, tamping with the flat side of a small trowel, or even by pressing down on the soil by foot. The soil covering the planting hole should be even with the surrounding soil, or up to one inch higher than the top of the root ball. New plantings should be watered daily for a couple of weeks to get them well established.

Plan ahead, for plants that get tall and require staking or support cages. It’s best to install cages early in the spring, or at planting time, before the foliage gets bushy. Vining plants require vertical space to grow, so provide a trellis, fence, wall or other structure that allows the plant to grow freely and spread.

Finish up with a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch such as shredded bark or compost to make the garden look tidy, reduce weeds, and retain soil moisture.

Watering Instructions

New plantings should be watered daily for a couple of weeks. After that, depending on the weather and soil type, watering may be adjusted to every two or three days. Clay soils hold moisture longer than sandy soils, so expect to water more frequently in sandy settings.

Different plants have different water needs. Some plants prefer staying on the dry side, others, like to be consistently moist. Refer to the plant label to check a plant’s specific requirements.

Ideally water should only be applied to the root zone - an area roughly 6-12” (15-30cm) from the base of the plant, not the entire plant. A soaker hose is a great investment for keeping plants healthy and reducing water lost through evaporation. Hand watering using a watering wand with a sprinkler head attached is also a good way to control watering. If the garden area is large, and a sprinkler is necessary, try to water in the morning so that plant foliage has time to dry through the day. Moist foliage encourages disease and mold that can weaken or damage plants.

Thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) every few days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance.

To check for soil moisture, use your finger or a small trowel to dig in and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Fertilizing Instructions

Incorporate fertilizer into the soil when preparing beds for new plants. Established plants should be fed in early spring, then again halfway through the growing season. Avoid applying fertilizer late in the growing season. This stimulates new growth that can be easily damaged by early frosts.

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product with a nutritional balance designed to encourage blooming (such as 5-10-5).

Reduce the need to fertilize in general by applying a 1-2” (3-5cm) layer of mulch or compost annually. As mulch breaks down it supplies nutrients to the plants and improves the overall soil condition at the same time.

Pruning Instructions

Depending on the flowering habit, snip off faded blooms individually, or wait until the blooming period is over and remove entire flower stalk down to the base of the plant. Removing old flower stems keeps the plant’s energy focused on vigorous growth instead of seed production. Foliage can be pruned freely through the season to remove damaged or discolored leaves, or to maintain plant size.

Do not prune plants after September 1st. Pruning stimulates tender new growth that will damage easily when the first frosts arrive. Perennial plants need time to prepare for winter, or “harden off”. Once plants have died to the ground they are easy to clean up by simply cutting back to about 4” (10cm) above the ground.

The flowering plumes and foliage of ornamental grasses create a beautiful feature in the winter landscape. Leave the entire plant for the winter and cut it back to the ground in early spring, just before new growth starts.

Perennials should be dug up and divided every 3-4 years. This stimulates healthy new growth, encourages future blooming, and provides new plants to expand the garden or share with gardening friends.


Rodgersia ‘Bronze Peacock’

A shiny, bronzy beauty! The darkest foliage of any Rodgersia. The leaves are thick, glossy, indented and make a great sculptural addition to your woodland garden. Pink flowers emerge in late spring above the mound. In spring, the huge bronze leaves emerge like a peacock's tail!

USDA Hardiness Zone(s): 5-8
Size (HT/W/FL HT): 22″ / 28″ / 50″
Exposure: Part Shade
Bloom Time(s):

Common Name Rodgersia
Family Saxifragaceae
Genus Rodgersia">Rodgersia
species pinnata
Plant Type Perennial">Perennial
Persistence Deciduous
US Patent # PP24780
EU Grant # --
Hardiness Zone 5">5, 6">6, 7">7, 8">8
Growth Habit Clumping">Clumping, Mounding">Mounding
Size (HT/W/FL HT) 22" / 28" / 50"
Finish Time Slow (9-12 Weeks)">Slow (9-12 Weeks)
Growth Rate Moderate">Moderate
Most Active Growing Season Spring">Spring
Flowering Season Summer">Summer
Flower Color Pink">Pink
Leaf Color Green">Green, Purple">Purple, Red">Red
Soil Prefer humus rich, moist, well drained soil.
pH 5.6 - 6.5
Exposure Part Shade">Part Shade
Special Uses Deer Resistant">Deer Resistant
Nutritional Needs 150 - 200 ppm
Dormancy --
Water (Greenhouse) Keep evenly moist.
Water (Garden) Moderate needs. They prefer moist conditions.
How Different? Darkest foliage of any of the Rodgersia.
Landscape Value Use as an accent or specimen in borders, near ponds or at the woodland edge.
Finish Time to 4" 4 - 6 weeks
Comments Rodgersia resent drought, but will tolerate dry conditions with some shade.
Grower Notes --

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Please credit TERRA NOVA® Nurseries in the following manner:
Photo(s) courtesy of TERRA NOVA® Nurseries, Inc.
www.terranovanurseries.com

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Fingerleaf Rodgersia foliage

Fingerleaf Rodgersia foliage

This attractive shade-loving groundcover is grown both for its large palm-like leaves that emerge a deep chocolate color, as well as the plumes of airy white flowers that tower above must have evenly moist soil

Fingerleaf Rodgersia features bold plumes of lightly-scented rose flowers rising above the foliage from late spring to early summer. Its attractive large textured oval palmate leaves emerge dark brown in spring, turning dark green in colour throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant. The red stems are very colorful and add to the overall interest of the plant.

Fingerleaf Rodgersia is an herbaceous perennial with a rigidly upright and towering form. Its wonderfully bold, coarse texture can be very effective in a balanced garden composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. Deer don't particularly care for this plant and will usually leave it alone in favor of tastier treats. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Fingerleaf Rodgersia is recommended for the following landscape applications

  • Vertical Accent
  • Mass Planting
  • General Garden Use
  • Groundcover
  • Bog Gardens

Fingerleaf Rodgersia will grow to be about 3 feet tall at maturity extending to 5 feet tall with the flowers, with a spread of 4 feet. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 3 feet apart. It grows at a slow rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 10 years.

This plant does best in partial shade to shade. It prefers to grow in moist to wet soil, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil pH, but grows best in rich soils. It is somewhat tolerant of urban pollution. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone over the growing season to conserve soil moisture. This species is not originally from North America. It can be propagated by division.


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