Starry, light and dark pink epimedium flowers with elongate petals

How to grow epimediums

Discover everything you need to know about shade-loving epimediums in this step-by-step Grow Guide

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Plant
Plant

Do not Plant in January

Do not Plant in February

Do Plant in March

Do Plant in April

Do not Plant in May

Do not Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do Plant in September

Do Plant in October

Do not Plant in November

Do not Plant in December

Flowers
Flowers

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does flower in March

Plant does flower in April

Plant does flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does not flower in July

Plant does not flower in August

Plant does not flower in September

Plant does not flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do Cut back in February

Do Cut back in March

Do Cut back in April

Do not Cut back in May

Do not Cut back in June

Do not Cut back in July

Do not Cut back in August

Do not Cut back in September

Do not Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

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.

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

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