Pulmonaria Lungwort for the Perennial Shade Garden

Pulmonaria Lungwort for the Perennial Shade Garden

By Published March 15, 2016 Updated June 15, 2022

Lungwort is named for the fact that ancient botanists thought that Pulmonaria leaves looked like a diseased lung and using the medieval philosophy called the Doctrine of Signatures, started using the plant to treat lung diseases (Guess what, it didn't work). When came time to give Lungwort a proper botanical name, taxonomists named it Pulmonaria, after the Latin word for lung. Despite the morbid pulmonary name, pulmonaria is a wonderful flowering woodland shade plant.

The fuzzy lungwort leaves are deer-resistant and range from solid green to spotted to nearly pure silver. Pulmonaria cultivars rival hellebores to be the first flowering perennials in the late winter and early spring. Pulmonaria flowers are small but are borne in clusters and have a deeply saturated pink or blue color which makes them really stand out in the garden. Pulmonaria looks great when grown in a mass or stretched along the border of a bed but also looks good as a specimen plant or in a container.

We like pairing pulmonaria with farfugium, carex, ophiopogon, and helleborusLungworts prefer a nice woodland garden with plenty of well-composted soil, mulch and regular watering. However, once established, they can also tolerate a decent amount of drought too. There are many lungwort cultivars on the market, but most do not perform well in the heat and humidity of the southeast U.S. Traditionally, Pulmonaria is a northern garden plant. Here at Plant Delights Nursery, we have trialed most of the pulmonaria cultivars in our Raleigh, NC garden and we only sell the ones that perform well in our humid, hot conditions.

Lungwort Trivia : Usually, when you see a silver leaf, the color is due to a layer of wax on the leaf surface or due to a lack of the green chlorophyll pigment in that region of the leaf. Lungwort is different. In this case lungwort leaves get their silver color from pockets of air trapped beneath the leaf surface. These pockets make the tissue above them opaque instead of transparent and the normally green interior cells of the Lungwort can no longer be seen.

Welcome to Plant Delights Nursery at Juniper Level Botanic Gardens. We are a private research and display botanic garden located near Raleigh, North Carolina (USDA Hardiness Zone 7b). Our retail mail order division allows us to make the best perennials from our trials available to gardeners around the world, some of which were developed here, some from our plant explorations, and others from breeders around the world. Between 1988 and 2010, Plant Delights Nursery introduced over 500 new perennial plants to US horticulture. In 2002, we were honored to be recognized by the American Horticulture Society for our lifetime of work in commercial horticulture. This image gallery is but a sampling of the great perennial plants available for gardeners around the world. We do not carry all plants pictured at any one time, but since our mission is to educate and inspire, we hope these images and the linked articles below will expand your garden horizons and interest. You will find an array of other interesting information and fascinating perennials throughout our website...thank you for taking time to visit.

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