Umbrella Plant

Nothing assures me that Spring is truly underway like my Umbrella Plant (Darmera Peltata) or the common name of Indian Rhubarb. I adore this plant and I love having it in my garden because it is unique and it stumps people – even my most knowledgeable garden friends – all the time. It’s fun for a children’s garden, too. Johnny and PJ love to go see “the umbrella” in the garden.Umbrella Plant Blooming

Let me tell you what I know about growing Umbrella Plant after having it around for nearly six years.

First, be gentle with it in the Spring. I usually rake winter mulch off my beds, but I gently remove my mulch by hand when I’m working over the Umbrella Plant. Why? Because if I accidentally break off the tips of the early spring shoots, I damage the umbrella and then I won’t get the beautiful bloom.  Here’s what it looks like emerging from the ground…Umbrella Plant SproutSecond, think of Umbrella Plant as a two-act play.  The bloom is the attractive first act, and the amazingly large and robust foliage is the stunning second act. You see, once the plant is done blooming, the leaf stalks sprout.  Once those babies come up, my bed of Umbrella Plant does indeed looks like a rhubarb patch – except much taller (about four feet) and very dramatic. Here’s a little baby stalk well on it’s way…
Umbrella Plant StalkFinally, in October, the leaves turn fall colors and add some interest to the garden. I’ll take some photos of it this fall and post them for you.

So, there are many reasons to love Umbrella Plant.The bloom looks tropical (which delights my Indian neighbor, Miss Mani) and reminds me of bergenia. Unlike bergenia, there are no dried up old leaves at the base to detract from the bloom. That is the main reason I’m not a big fan of bergenia (my apologies to the Saxifragaceae family). Umbrella plant blooming 2I love seeing this bloom emerge from the ground. Every gardener has a plant they covet seeing in the Spring and Umbrella Plant is mine. It looks especially earthy emerging through the mulch. Check out this stem… Umbrella Plant BaseIt is stunning to see Umbrella Plant in a mass.  Mine are at the front of my eastern garden I refer to as the “Friesland Garden”. My Friesland Garden is very moist – thus the Dutch reference (they’re always battling the sea). Umbrella Plant Bloom 3Here’s my Umbrella Plant Marker.  I label some of my plants with a black sharpie on flat rocks and then spray them with polyurethane to seal the label from the harsh outdoor elements. I think it really suits the woodland feel of the Umbrella Plant. Once the leaves are up, this marker is hidden beneath the massive leaves and the clump becomes a mystery plant for visitors. Umbrella Plant Marker

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Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
Jennifer Ebeling
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