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How to Grow Leopard Plant — Ligularia

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Ligularia–commonly called leopard plant–bears large, orange-yellow daisy-like flowers from midsummer to early fall. The plant is an upright, clump-forming perennial with large, leathery, heart-shaped rich green leaves.

Ligularia is a genus of perennials with broad basal leaves showily marked and numerous yellow flowerheads on 5-foot stems. It is a striking subject in borders and is easily grown from seed.

Ligularia grows in ordinary garden soil.

Ligularia is a genus of about 150 species of large, robust, often coarse perennials.

 bright yellow flowers of a Ligularia przewalskii.
Long inflorescence with bright yellow flowers of a Ligularia przewalskii.

Get to know Ligularia

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 5 to 8
  • Hardiness: Hardy to -30°F (-34°C)
  • Height and width: 3 to 4 feet (1-1.2m) tall; 3 to 5 feet (1-1.5m) wide
  • Foliage: Basal leaves can be oblong or elliptic or rounded
  • Flowers: Racemes of a few or many daisy-like
  • Flower colors: Yellow, orange
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Uses: Shady beds, woodland garden, near water, massed in groups of 5 or more
  • Common name: Ligularia, leopard plant
  • Botanical name: Ligularia spp.
  • Family: Asteraceae
  • Origin: moist meadows and grasslands in Central and East Asia

Where to plant Ligularia

  • Plant Ligularia in light, afternoon shade in Zone 5 and in hot regions in Zones 6-8.
  • Grow Ligularia in humus-rich, moist to wet soil.

Ligularia uses and companions

  • Grow Ligularia in a mixed or herbaceous border.
  • Use Ligularia in a naturalistic, shady, wet-to-boggy site along a pond or stream.
  • Good companions for Ligularia include Aruncus dioicus, Cimicifuga, Eupatorium, Iris, Lobelia cardinalis.
Leopard plant, Ligularia dentata
Leopard plant, Ligularia dentata

When to plant Ligularia

  • Set Ligularia in the garden in spring; add aged compost to the planting bed in advance of planting.
  • Sow the seed of species Ligularia in autumn.

Planting and spacing Ligularia

  • Space Ligularia 2 to 3 feet apart; mass plants in groups of 5 or more.
  • Sow seed 1/8 inch deep in evenly prepared soil.

How to water and feed Ligularia

  • Ligularia needs ample water; do not let the soil dry out.
  • Fertilize ligularia with an all-purpose fertilizer every 6 weeks or apply a slow-release fertilizer in spring.

Ligularia care

  • Mulch around ligularia to conserve soil moisture.
  • Trim off spent flower spikes after blooming.
  • Leaves may droop in warm, humid weather; leaves will recover when the humidity drops.
  • Protect plants from slugs and snails.

Ligularia pests and diseases

  • Slugs and snails may damage emerging leaves in spring.
Leaves of Ligularia dentata
Leaves of Ligularia dentata

Ligularia propagation

  • Ligularia seeds germinate in14-42 days at 55°F to 65°F (13°-18°C).
  • Sow the seed of species in containers outdoors in autumn or spring
  • Divide species or cultivars in spring after flowering.

Ligularia varieties to grow

  • Ligularia dentata: grown for attractive roundish leaves; sends up 3 to 5 feet stems topped by heads of orange daisies; cultivar ‘Desdemona’ has round, deep-red spring leaves; large yellow daisies in clusters on stems 1 to 2 feet.
  • L. hessei ‘Gregynog Gold’ grows to 6 feet tall and bears conical spikes of yellow-orange flowers.
  • L. przewalskii similar to L. stenocephala: bears slender dense racemes of yellow flower heads; grows to 6 feet tall; palmately lobed leaves.
  • L. stenocephala is known for the cultivar ‘Rocket’ which has pointed, serrated leaves; and yellow flowers on spikes to 5 feet tall.
  • L. tussilaginea is a houseplant in all zones and grown outdoors in Zones 6 to 9; bears yellow ray flower heads; cultivars include ‘Aureo-marginata’ called leopard plant for its blotched leaves; ‘Argentea’ and ‘Crispata.’
  • L. wilsoniana, giant groundsel, bears columnar spikes of golden yellow flowers on 6-foot stems.

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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