Gunnera manicata

How to grow gunnera

Find out all you need to know about growing gunnera, in this detailed 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 not Plant in March

Do not Plant in April

Do Plant in May

Do Plant in June

Do not Plant in July

Do not Plant in August

Do not Plant in September

Do not 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 not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does 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

Take cuttings
Take cuttings

Do not Take cuttings in January

Do not Take cuttings in February

Do Take cuttings in March

Do Take cuttings in April

Do not Take cuttings in May

Do not Take cuttings in June

Do not Take cuttings in July

Do not Take cuttings in August

Do not Take cuttings in September

Do not Take cuttings in October

Do not Take cuttings in November

Do not Take cuttings in December

Cut back
Cut back

Do not Cut back in January

Do not Cut back in February

Do not Cut back in March

Do not 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 Cut back in September

Do not Cut back in October

Do not Cut back in November

Do not Cut back in December

Collect seeds
Collect seeds

Do not Collect seeds in January

Do not Collect seeds in February

Do not Collect seeds in March

Do not Collect seeds in April

Do not Collect seeds in May

Do not Collect seeds in June

Do not Collect seeds in July

Do not Collect seeds in August

Do not Collect seeds in September

Do Collect seeds in October

Do Collect seeds in November

Do not Collect seeds in December

Gunnera is known as giant rhubarb, because it really does look like a colossal, prehistoric version of our more familiar culinary rhubarb. This Chilean giant is definitely not edible, but it is a spectacular plant with the epic, architectural foliage making a real impact in big gardens with ponds. The clumps of prickly leaves and stalks make a very large plant that is a stunning feature if you have the space. There are, however, smaller varieties of gunnera which will suit other garden situations.

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Take a look at our handy gunnera Grow Guide, below.


Where to plant gunnera

Pam Woodall Wildlife Gardens category winner Gardeners World Garden of the Year Competition 2016 path pathway Crocosmia Gunnera 100816 10082016 10/08/16 10/08/2016 10 10th August 2016 Summer Poole Dorset photographer Paul Debois horizontal
Gunnera manicata growing in partial shade

Grow Gunnera in moist, humus-rich soil in a sheltered spot in full sun to partial shade. It needs lots of space and looks best grown as a specimen plant in a bog garden, or at the edge of a pond or stream.


Planting gunnera

Buy a small plant and dig a generous hole, adding in some well-rotted compost. Leave plenty of space around the plant for your gunnera to grow into.


Propagating gunnera

Gunnera manicata flower spike
Gunnera manicata flower spike

Gunneras can be grown from seed, saved from the flower spike. Alternatively, you can take basal cuttings in spring from new growth.


Gunnera: problem solving

Gunneras are generally pest and disease free.


Care

Gunneras are herbaceous perennials so the spectacular foliage will die back at the end of the summer. In autumn, use the dead leaves to fold over the crown of the plant to protect the fat new buds within from frost damage.

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Gunnera tinctoria
Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera varieties to try

  • Gunnera manicata – the best known of these giant foliage plants, is a rhizomatous, clump forming perennial. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the prestigious Award of Garden Merit
  • Gunnera tinctoria – has more rounded, deeply lobed leaves than Gunnera manicata, and shorter leaf stalks. The flowering spike is shorter and its individual spikes smaller and less open. Gunnera tinctoria is considered an invasive plant in parts of the British Isles
  • Gunnera magellanica – a dwarf, spreading variety with leaves that look like miniature versions of the giant varieties. It makes excellent ground cover in damp, boggy soil and is hardy to -10°C
  • Gunnera perpensa – a South African variety, known as River Pumpkin, that is also hardy in the UK. This is also smaller than its South American relatives, growing to around 60cm. The leaves have a light mottled pattern and a green flower spike appears in late summer