Thalictrum is also known as meadow rue.


Although we're probably most familiar with the taller thalictrum varieties that grow in partial shade, there are around 130 species across the globe. These include dwarf variations and thalictrums that suit free draining sunny sites, as well as the tall, airy perennials that we associate with wild and woodland planting schemes.

They all share pretty, delicate foliage, similar to aquilegia, and small, pale coloured flowers. The taller varieties with airy clouds of flowers tend to complement plants with bolder foliage and look good growing among ferns, Japanese anemones and grasses. Thalictrums also make great cut flowers.

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

Where to grow thalictrums

Thalictrum delavayi with astrantia and ageratina
Thalictrum delavayi with astrantia and ageratina

Most species of thalictrum are happy growing in sun or partial shade, in rich, moist but well-drained soil.

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How to plant thalictrums

If you have a pot-grown thalictrum, dig a generous hole and add some good open compost, particularly if your soil is clay-based. Back fill and water in well.

Propagating thalictrums

Thalictrum delavayi flowers
Thalictrum delavayi flowers

Thalictrums can be divided in spring or early autumn to make more plants. Choose a clump that is well established, dig up and split with a spade. Replant new sections and water well.

Video: How to divide herbaceous perennials

Thalictrum: problem solving

Eryngium 'Big Blue' with Thalictrum 'Splendide'
Eryngium 'Big Blue' with thalictrum 'Splendide'

Thalictrums are not prone to any pests and disease.

Caring for meadow rue

Thalictrums are very low-maintenance, apart from requiring staking for taller varieties. Cut down the stems after flowering, but be careful when pruning as the sap can irritate the skin.

Thalictrums to grow

Thalictrum ichangense 'Purple Marble'
Thalictrum ichangense 'Purple Marble'
  • Thalictrum aquilegiifolium ‘Thundercloud’ – about 1m in height, with double, lavender-pink blooms on purple stems, this makes an excellent cut flower
  • Thalictrum delavayi – pale lilac to white flowers appear from mid-summer to early autumn on this Chinese meadow rue. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it the prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM)
  • Thalictrum filamentosum – the small white flowers appear on green-red stems
  • Thalictrum aquilegiifolium var. album – a tall variety that grows up to 1.4m, with pure-white blooms. This will need staking
  • Thalictrum tuberosum – native to the Pyrenees, this alpine meadow rue has large, cream-white flowers, and unlike other thalictrum species, will grow in full sun and free draining soil
  • Thalictrum minus ‘Adiantifolium’ – this dwarf form grows to 60cm and has yellow flowers in July and August
  • Thalictrum kiusianum – a tiny species thalictrum that suits containers or an alpine planting scheme. Lavender-blue flowers appear just above the low growing mat of foliage in summer