How to Grow Thalictrum
How to grow Thalictrum
I love Thalictrum. It is such an easy to grow, beautiful, romantic flower with many delicate fluffy flower heads which seem to just float on the breeze. It is one the top best and easiest plants to grow and gives great height to the borders. Thalictrum, common name meadow rue, flowers in the summer and has the additional benefit of being long flowering with attractive seed heads as the flowers fade. It is herbaceous, which means it dies back over the autumn leaving bare earth in the winter, from which fresh new growth appears in the spring.
It has unusual fluffy flower heads, usually pink/purple with long lasting flowers. The image far left show Thalictrum aquilegiifolium which is commonly sold in garden centres. It has the RHS garden merit award and is fully hardy. The other images above are Thalictrum delavayi, also readily available on line and in garden centres, the middle image is Album a white variety and right a pink variety all of which have the RHS award .
Thalictrum's preferred growing conditions are that the soil is on the moist side, although well drained. That said Thalictrum will grow reasonably well in most borders in terms of position and soil types, and tolerates partial shade. Thalictrum is suitable for the back of a border as it is a tall plant, growing up to between one to two metres. Although it is tall, I have never bothered to stake it and despite some gales and poor summer weather it has remained upright, By not staking it the whole plant moves around with the breeze, and it seems not to mind floating around free without being staked. If your garden is prone to blustery winds rather than stake Thalictrum, which spoils its lovely ethereal shape, plant around it to give it protection and support, such as with Delphinium or a contrasting shrub. Thalictrum looks good with any of the delicate grasses such as Misacanthus sinensis 'Kleine Silberspinne' or Molinia Caerulea.
It creates a good effect to plant Thalictrum in a woodland or streamside setting, and streamside it combines well grasses such as Phalaris arundinacea var.Picta, common name Gardener's garter. This grass has a pink tinge to its foliage and looks good with the Thalictrum but beware the Phalaris can be vigorous.
Thalictrum also looks good in a border teamed up with Delphinium which makes a great planting combination, illustrated bottom left. Thalictrum is colour coded green wheelbarrow, as it is really easy to grow with little maintenance, Delphinium are colour coded red, as they require more time and effort, but together they do make an outstanding planting combination. There are lots of other great summer flowering plants which combine well with Thalictrum, and ideas on summer planting combinations.
Thalictrum can be cut back after flowering or delayed until the late winter/early spring as the foliage and seed heads remain attractive. I tend to leave the stems and seed heads, and am rewarded by seeing small birds perched on them. Thalictrum can self seed but not so much as to be invasive and is trouble free.
If you do need to divide a clump, this is best done early spring or early autumn. However another advantage of Thalictrum is that it can be left for many years undistributed and does not need routinely to be divided, unlike some other perennials. It really is maintenance free.
I know of no down side to growing Thalictrum and it is just so pretty. The image at the bottom is of a lovely white variety known as T. delavayi Splendide White which is fully hardy and tolerant of dappled shade preferring soil which is on the damp side.