How to Grow Burnet — Sanguisorba

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Burnet, botanical name Sanguisorba, is a rhizomatous perennial that typically grows to about 3 feet tall. Bare stems are topped dark red to black-purple flower spikes.

Burnet, commonly called Great Burnet, is a welcome addition to cottage and wildflower gardens. It can be placed in the middle of mixed borders.

Burnet is a culinary herb whose leaves, especially young ones, are excellent in salads and soups. It’s flowers add late-season color to herb gardens.

Get to know Burnet

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: 4 to 8
  • Hardiness: Rhizome is hardy
  • Height and width: 2½ to 3 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide
  • Foliage: Compound pinnate, medium green basal leaves are serrated; stems are sometimes tinged with red.
  • Flowers: Small terminal flower spikes 1½ inch long are dark red to black purple
  • Bloom time: Late summer into autumn
  • Uses: Beds and borders, herb garden
  • Botanical name: Sanguisorba officinalis
  • Common name: Burnet, Great burnet

Where to plant Burnet

  • Plant burnet in full sun.
  • Grow burnet in humus-rich, well-drained soil. It will grow easily in average to medium-rich soil.

When to plant Burnet

  • Set out established plants in spring or late summer.

Planting and spacing Burnet

  • Space burnet 2 to 3 feet apart.

How to water and feed Burnet

  • Keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Fertilize burnet with an all-purpose fertilizer in spring and again at midsummer.

Burnet care

  • Taller plants need staking or other support.
  • Burnet is nearly deer resistant.
  • Burnet has no serious pests or disease problems.

Burnet propagation

  • Burnet freely self-seeds. Prompt removal of spent flowers will prevent unwanted self-seeding.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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