Epimedium - Woodland Perennials for Early Spring

Epimedium - Woodland Perennials for Early Spring

Getting started with fairy wings

By Published April 13, 2013 Updated May 08, 2023

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The following article is part of a series geared toward entry-level gardeners. For deep dives into many of the plants that we have sold over the years, visit our archive of in-depth perennial articles written by Tony Avent, Dr. Patrick McMillan, and other Plant Delights and JLBG experts. We also have transcripts of our Gardening Unplugged videos, recorded during our Open Nursery and Garden Days, that have great information for gardeners of all experience levels.

Epimedium, also known as barrenwort, bishop's hat, or fairy wings, is a versatile and easy-to-grow perennial flower that can add beauty and interest to any garden. With delicate, airy blooms that come in a range of colors, shapes, and sizes, epimediums are a great choice for beginning gardeners looking to add some variety and texture to their outdoor space. Whether you're a seasoned green thumb or just starting out, growing epimediums can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience. In this article, we'll explore the basics of epimedium flower care, including planting, watering, fertilizing, and pruning tips, to help you create a thriving epimedium garden. So if you're ready to add some fairy wings to your garden, read on to learn more about this beautiful and versatile plant.perennials throughout our website...thank you for taking ti

The foliage of epimedium is one of its most striking features, often earning it the nickname "fairy wings". The leaves are typically heart-shaped or elongated, and are often variegated with shades of green, bronze, purple, or red. They are delicate and airy, and can range in size from just a few inches to over a foot long, depending on the variety.

The flowers of epimedium are also quite unique, with a delicate and intricate structure that makes them stand out in any garden. They are typically small, bell-shaped, and hang from thin, wiry stems that rise above the foliage. The blooms can be white, pink, yellow, orange, or red, and often have distinctive markings or spurs that add to their charm.

Best Fairy Wings for Beginners

There are many different types of epimediums available, but some popular varieties for beginners include:

Epimedium 'Cinnamon Coconut': This is one is a PDN introduction and of our favorites. The cinnamon colored foliage is topped with white flowers in late April making this one of the later flowering fariy wing selections.

Epimedium 'Cupid's Arrow': This variety has mottled foliage and peachy-orange flowers that bloom in late spring.

Epimedium grandiflorum var. violaceum 'Bronze Maiden': This variety of the easy-to-grow Epimedium grandiflorum has lovely mahogany-bronze foliage topped with mauvy-lavender flowers in early spring.

Epimedium x perralchicum 'Frohnleiten': This hybrid variety is a cross between Epimedium perralderianum and Epimedium pinnatum ssp. colchicum, and has amazingly red-mottled heart-shaped leaves and large butter-yellow flowers.

These are just a few examples of the many different types of epimediums available. When selecting plants for your garden, be sure to choose varieties that are well-suited to your growing conditions and that fit with your overall garden design

How To Grow Epimediums

Overall, epimedium is an easy-to-grow plant that offers both beauty and interest throughout the growing season, with foliage that provides texture and color, and blooms that add a delicate and intricate touch to any garden. If you're a beginner getting started with epimediums, here are some tips to help you grow a thriving and beautiful garden:

Choose the right location: Epimediums prefer dappled shade or part sun, with protection from harsh afternoon sun. They do well in a range of soil types, but prefer moist, well-draining soil.

Plant at the right time: Epimediums are best planted in the spring or fall, when the weather is cooler and more mild.

Water regularly: Epimediums like moist soil, so be sure to water them regularly, especially during hot, dry weather.

Mulch: Applying a layer of mulch around the base of the plant can help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

Fertilize sparingly: Epimediums don't require much fertilizer, but you can apply a slow-release, balanced, organic fertilizer, such as Plant-tone, in the spring to give them a boost.

Prune as needed: Epimediums don't require much pruning, but you can trim back any dead or damaged foliage in the spring to promote healthy growth.

Watch for pests and diseases: Epimediums are generally pest and disease-resistant, but you should watch for signs of damage or disease and take appropriate action if needed.

By following these tips, you can grow a beautiful and healthy epimedium garden, even as a beginner.

In conclusion, epimediums are a great choice for beginners looking to add some interest and texture to their garden. With their delicate and intricate foliage and unique, bell-shaped blooms, epimediums offer both beauty and charm throughout the growing season. By following some basic care tips, such as choosing the right location, watering regularly, and fertilizing sparingly, even the most inexperienced gardener can enjoy a thriving epimedium garden. With so many different varieties available, there's sure to be an epimedium that's perfect for your garden, whether you're looking for pops of color, interesting foliage, or delicate blooms. So why not give fairy wings a try and see for yourself just how rewarding and enjoyable these versatile plants can be?

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