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Brunnera Jack Frost – 2012 Perennial Plant of the Year – Growing Tips

Silver foliage Brunnera combines effortlessly with so many other shade plants

Since its discovery, Brunnera Jack Frost PP 13,859  has won numerous awards including Perennial Plant of the Year in 2012 and Best New Perennial of the Year at Plantarium, The Netherlands.  Jack Frost has warmed the hearts of many gardeners both new and experienced.   I can’t think of a more beautiful deer proof shade plant and one that is so adaptable in perennial garden design.

Few shade perennials have such interesting silver foliage throughout the season.  This clump forming perennial is  a versatile groundcover grows 15-18″ tall x 15-18″ wide.   Hardy to zone 5 (probably hardier)

In spring, small oblong leaves gradually grow into larger heart-shaped leaves after the conclusion of the flowering period. Beautiful, wispy panicles of sky blue flowers appear in early spring.

How To Grow

  • Does best in moisture retentive soil in part shade.  In my area of the country (Michigan) it can take some pretty dry shade.
  • Plant in area where it receives morning sun and afternoon shade.  Watch for too much sun or hot spots.
  • Don’t worry that the leaves are small in spring – they will get much larger (5-8″ across) as the plant grows.
  • Best in moist soil.  Add 3 inches of mulch to keep moist
  • If you notice crispy leaf edges – plants are getting too dry.  I ofte  cut these leaves all the way back. Plants might stay dormant for a while before flushing out with new foliage growth.
  • Cut back blooms after fading.  Plants stays more attractive that way.

Here’s what you’ll love about this plant

  • Silver shade plant.   Why is that important? Silver infuses light into dark corners of theDeer proof Jack Frost Brunnera for the shade garden shade garden
  • Foliage stays colorful and attractive throughout the season
  • Blue flowers in spring – which compliments spring blooming bulbs
  • Easy to grow – Prefers consistent moisture
  • Low Maintenance
  • Deer & Rabbit Resistant
  • No serious insects or disease issues
  • Late evening gardening – still visible at dusk
  • It’s just plain gorgeous!

Stay tuned for our  hands on Garden Design Tips with Brunnera in our next article

Read more:

Garden Design with Brunnera Jack Frost

Brunnera Jack Frost

Get a Jump on Spring with Fall Planting

Fothergilla is a low growing hedge plant for part shade boasting brilliant fall color

“The roots below the earth claim no rewards for making the branches fruitful.” Rabindranath Tagore

Fall planting establishes the necessary root growth required to anchor the plant in its new environment and build up nutrient reserves for healthy & sustainable growth next spring.

Interesting Info on Fall Planting

  • Over 75% of a plants root growth occur in  fall
  • Soil is warmer in fall than in spring
  • Roots continue to grow as long as the soil is not frozen
  • Plants will grow better in the spring with a well established root system
  • Plants are better equipped to handle drought & extreme conditions the following season
  • Plants use less water in the fall as they become established

Plants Have to Work Harder in Spring

If you plant in the spring, plants have to do double duty.  They must adjust to its new environment AND put on leaves, flowers and be ready to embrace summer heat & humidity.  Fall planting is beneficial as roots continue to grow and become established.  In spring, plants are happy in their new environment and ready to put on strong top growth & flowers.

Planted in the fall, Fothergilla will be well established to support spring flowering honey-scented blooms

Start NOW

Yes, you can get that head start on spring by planting now!  If you need to limit yourself to a few  fall planting tasks, then consider planting spring-flowering perennials & shrubs such as:

Lily of the Valley

Dicentra

Hellebore

Lilacs – Syringa

Fothergilla

Related ArticlesBenefits of Fall Planting, 12 Fall Maintenance Garden Tips, Hot Tips for Cool Fall Weather

10 Expert Gardening Tips on Growing Hakonechloa – The Most Elegant Shade Groundcover Ever!

Hakonechloa Aureola - the most elegant shade groundcover ever!

Hakonechloa produces a gorgeous mound of narrow, arching leaves  that is useful for bringing bright color to the shade garden. It has a graceful, almost tropical like habit and is considered by some to be one of the most stunning groundcovers for the shade garden. Two of the more popular varieties include  bright gold leaf All Gold and Aureola which has gold leaves with stripes of bright green.

I’ve known gardeners that have been  successful with growing Hakonechloa and others who struggle growing this shade loving groundcover.  Essentially, this is a slow growing shade perennial that takes more than a couple of years to become mature.

Design Tips

Hakonechloa works well in so many shade settings as a foliage plant. Use it singly, in containers, or mass as a ground cover in front of a shady border.  For inspiring design ideas & photography check out  Design Ideas with Hakonechloa –Elegant Shade Ground Cover. Since you get 3 seasons of foliage color it combines terrific with various colors of Heuchera.

1o Tips on Growing the most beautiful Hakonechloa ever!

1)     Soil. It thrives in a rich, somewhat acidic soil in well drained site. If you give them average soil, they will be small to average in size.

2)     Planting. Dig a hole 3 times the height & width of your container and fill in with good organic matter.  Take the time to do this because it will make a difference

3)    Exposure. Full sun to part shade.  Hakonechloa grows well in full sun (in the north anyway) Protect from the hot afternoon sun.

4)    Water. Hakonechloa require lots of moisture. Water frequently the first year. If you have an irrigation system – terrific.

5)    Keep away from tree roots. Best to plant near but not directly under trees or large shrubs. Depending on the type, tree & shrub roots are moisture & nutrient robbers.  Plants often will stay small and often struggle if competing with neighboring roots.

6)    Keep roots cool. Plant in a location where they will receive shade during the hottest part of the day.   Use 3” of mulch after planting to keep roots cool until plants become established.

7)   Feeding. Use a slow release fertilizer such as Osmocote according to package directions.

8)    Don’t cut back in the fall. If you are in a northern climate, wait until spring to either cut back or rake away previous year’s growth.

9)    Winter protection. My friend, Barb is a landscape designer in Minnesota (Zone 4) and use LOTS of Hakonechloa is in her garden design.  She uses pine boughs as a winter mulch. She has always been successful overwintering these plants.

10)   Planting & Spacing. I’ll often space Hakonechloa closer than other groundcovers (8-10” apart).  That way they fill in faster.  Plant in the spring so roots can establish themselves and be patient.

Container Growing

My friend Jayne, grows Hakonechloa in containers in her Zone 4 garden.  Here are her tips for container growing:

  • Use drip irrigation  (keeps the plants  evenly moist)
  • Slow Release liquid feed
  • Replace soil every 2 years
  • Bury the pots & cover with pine boughs for the winter

Growing Hakonechloa is a bit like reading Tolstoy’s War & Peace.  It is a bit of an undertaking, but don’t  let these proven  growing tips intimidate you from growing this magnificent shade loving groundcover in your perennial garden.

Where to Buy

Growing Hellebores – Culture & Care

Hellebores are regarded as one of the best deer-proof shade plants. A harbinger of spring with an array of colorful blooms in either single or double forms.   Watch this video for helpful tips on achieving long lasting Lenten Rose blooms in your shade garden. Click Here for more helpful information on growing Hellebores and see why this is one of our shade garden favorites!

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