Epimediums have heart-shaped leaves and a spreading habit, and are a natural fit for shady borders tricky, dry areas under trees and shrubs.

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The foliage means they're prized as ground cover plants, but the tiny, star-like flowers in spring are beautiful. They complement spring bulbs, hellebores and other early-flowering plants of woodland origin.

Check out our handy epimedium Grow Guide, below.


Pink epimedium growing beside a fern
Pink epimedium growing beside a fern

Where to plant epimediums

Epimediums are generally hardy plants. Being woodland plants, the soil conditions need to be similar to the fertile, free-draining soils found under trees, with a high leaf mould content and a slightly acidic pH. They like dappled shade, although some varieties will tolerate more direct sunlight.

Epimediums can be planted in dry locations, under trees and shrubs or near walls.

Pink and yellow epimedium flowers
Pink and yellow epimedium flowers

How to plant epimediums

Prepare the soil by adding plenty of leaf mould. Dig a generous hole, tease out the roots of your plant and gently firm in the soil around it. Water in well.

Cutting back old epimedium leaves with secateurs
Cutting back old epimedium leaves with secateurs

How to look after epimediums

Keep your epimediums happy with a regular mulch of garden compost or leaf mould.

Many epimedium varieties are semi-evergreen and will keep their leaves through the winter months, which protects the crown of the plant. But by springtime, the leaves will be looking a bit tatty. For the best foliage display, cut back these old leaves before the flowers appear.

Propagating epimediums

Epimediums are best propagated by division in the autumn.

Here, Carol Klein explains how to divide epidemiums to reinvigorate and increase your stock of them:

White Epimedium pubigerum
White Epimedium pubigerum

Epimediums: problem solving

Given the right growing conditions, epimediums are relatively trouble-free.

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White and yellow epimedium 'Wudang Star'
White and yellow epimedium 'Wudang Star'

Epimedium varieties to try

  • Epimedium 'Amber Queen' – produces a mass of amber-yellow coloured flowers from April to June
  • Epimedium 'Pink Champagne' – a hybrid cultivar, with attractive bronze-red foliage and pink-red hanging flowers
  • Epimedium stellulatum 'Wudang Star' – this was collected from the wild in China by Roy Lancaster in 1983. It produces low-growing clumps of leathery, spiny foliage. In mid- to late spring, white, star-shaped flowers appear above the foliage
  • Epimedium x perralchicum – forming a large clump of glossy, heart-shaped deep green leaves, which are flushed bronze in spring and autumn, tiny pendent, bright yellow flowers appear on delicate wiry stems, from mid- to late-spring
  • Epimedium x rubrum – with bronze young leaves, which darken to red-brown in autumn. In late spring tiny, crimson and pale yellow flowers appear on wiry stems
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