How to Grow Rodgersia 

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Rodgersia are large, imposing plants with divided finger-like leaves and tall stems that bear star-shaped petalless, white or pink flowers in large, fluffy, pyramidal panicles. The leaves turn yellow to bronze in autumn. Rodgersia is a perennial that grows 4 to 6 feet tall.

Grow Rodgersia in a moist border, a bog garden, or near water. Rodgersia can be naturalized at woodland margins or along shaded streams. Rodgersia prefers partial shade; it can grow in full sun in cool summer regions.

Rodgersia is a genus of six species of vigorous, clump-forming rhizomatous perennials. Rodgersia is native to moist woodland and scrub and streamsides in the mountains of Myanmar, China, Korea, and Japan.

Get to know Rodgersia 

  • Plant type: Rhizomatous perennial 
  • Growing zones and range: Zones 5 to 8 
  • Hardiness: Hardy to Zone 5
  • Height and width: Varies, but most are 4-6 feet (1-2m) tall and 3 feet (1m) wide.
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Form and habit: Clump-forming 
  • Foliage: Large, long-stalked, palmate or pinnate, sometimes bronze-tinted, basal leaves, in some species, turning shades of red and brown in autumn; leaves are compound, with leaflets arranged in a palmate or pinnate fashion, and often distinctively textured 
  • Flowers: Tall stems bear star-shaped, petalless, white or pink flowers, each .25-.4 inch (6-9mm) across, in large, fluffy, pyramidal panicles 
  • Fruits: Dark red or brown, capsular fruits 
  • Bloom time: Summer 
  • Uses: Grow near water, in a bog garden, moist border, or use for naturalizing at woodland margins 
  • Garden companions: Other clump-forming shade plants such as meadow rue, great Solomon’s seal, cardinal flower, bugbane, and azure monkshood 
  • Common name: Fingerleaf Rodgersia 
  • Botanical name: Rodgersia 
  • Family name: Saxifragaceae 
  • Origin: Myanmar, China, Korea, and Japan 

Where to plant Rodgersia 

  • Plant Rodgersia in full sun or partial shade. 
  • Plant Rodgersia in humus-rich, moist soil. 
  • Rodgersia resents drought but will tolerate drier conditions with more shade.  
  • Rodgersia are dormant in winter; provide winter mulch in cold climates. 

When to plant Rodgersia 

  • Sow Rodgersia seed in containers in a cold frame in spring. 
  • Set container-grown Rodgersia in the garden in spring or autumn.

Planting and spacing Rodgersia 

  • Space Rodgersia 3 feet (1m) apart.
  • Rodgersia are difficult to move; watch for wilting. 

How to water and feed Rodgersia 

  • Give Rodgersia ample water. 
  • Feed Rodgersia with an all-purpose organic fertilizer in spring. 

How to care for Rodgersia 

  • Deadheading Rodgersia will not stimulate additional bloom; self-sowing is not a problem. However, deadheading improves the plant’s appearance.  
  • Cut Rodgersia back in late fall or early spring.  

Rodgersia pests and diseases 

  • Rodgersia can develop slugs; otherwise, Rodgersia are usually pest-free. 
Robinia viscosa
Robinia viscosa

Rodgersia propagation 

  • Divide Rodgersia in early spring. 
  • Division is rarely needed.  

Rodgersia varieties to grow 

  • Rodgersia aesculifolia, Fingerleaf Rodgersia, clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial producing horse-chestnut-like, palmate, crinkled, mid-green leaves, to 10 inches (25cm) long. The leaves have densely woolly, red-brown stalks and veins, and usually 7, sometimes 5-9, obovate, toothed leaflets. In midsummer, bears many star-shaped, white or pink flowers in large panicles, to 24 inches (60cm) long. To 6 feet (2m) tall and 3 feet (1m) wide. North China.  
  • R. pinnata, Fingerleaf Rodgersia, rhizomatous, clump-forming perennial producing pinnate, or partially pinnate or palmate, crinkled, heavily veined, glossy, dark green leaves, to 36 inches (90cm) long; leaves have reddish-green stalks and 5-9 obovate-inversely-lance-shaped, yellowish white, pink, or red flowers in panicles 12-28 inches 930-70cm) long. To 4 feet (1.2m) tall and 30 inches (75cm) wide. China (Sichuan, Yunnan).  
  • R. podophylla, Bronze-leaved Rodgersia, clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial with palmate leaves, to 16 inches (40cm) long, composed of usually 5 large, jagged, obovate, 3- to 5-lobed leaflets, crinkled and bronze when young, becoming smoother, glossy, and mid-green, with brown hairs. The leaves turn bronze-red in autumn. In mid-and late summer, bears star-shaped, creamy green flowers in panicles 12 inches (30cm) long. To 5 feet (1.5m) tall and 6 feet (1.8m) wide. Korea, Japan.  
  • R. sambucifolia, Elderberry Rodgersia, clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial with elder-like, pinnate, hairy, dark green leaves, to 30 inches (75cm) long, with usually 7, sometimes 3-11, oblong-lance-shaped, toothed leaflets. In early and midsummer, bears star-shaped, white or pink flowers in dense panicles, to 18 inches (45cm) long, arching at the tips. To 36 inches (90cm) tall and wide. West China. 

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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