Pulmonaria 'Berries and Cream'

Pulmonaria Berries and Cream Perennial of the Month-- June 2006 

(pull-mo-NAIR-ee-ah) (pronunciation at link, turn up volume if too low)

Common name: Lungwort

Family: Boraginaceae, Borage

Height x width: 12" x 24"

Growth rate, habit: moderate (slower than many cultivars), slow spreading, mounded

Foliage: mostly silvery with green spotches, ruffled edges, elongate

Flowers:  raspberry pink turning bluish with age,  in drooping terminal clusters (cymes), early spring (early Mar in zone 8, early May in zone 4)

Hardiness: USDA zones (3 if snow cover) 4-9

Soil: moist but well-drained, organic, wilts rapidly when dry

Light: part shade to full shade, will tolerate sun in north if kept moist

Pests and Problems: none serious; bacterial rot (especially if waterlogged soil), powdery mildew (this cultivar is more resistant than many), slugs; leaves browing in too much sun or heat

Landscape habit, uses: low mound, front of border, groundcover, massed; combines well with other spring flowers such as trilliums, primroses, epimedium, ferns (such as Japanese Painted) and hostas (especially blue foliage), silvery Siberian bugloss ('Jack Frost' and 'Looking Glass'), and spring bulbs

Other interest: common name of "soldiers and sailors" for this genus from two color flowers often seen on plants of other cultivars at same time; common name from 15th century Doctrine of Signatures of Paracelsus which implied the appearance of a plant cured similar appearing ailment, hence this spotted-leaved plant should cure diseased lungs; this cultivar patented from Terra Nova; this cultivar is distinguished by its very silver leaves and contrasting flower colors; parents include 'Margery Fish', 'Excalibur', and 'Redstart'

Other culture: spreads by creeping rootstocks but is not aggressive, de-leaf lower foliage during or at end of season, if mildew on foliage cut back after flowering and new foliage will develop; cut back old foliage just after bloom

Propagation: easy by division of rootstocks in Spring, seed, patent applicable to commercial production

Sources: many complete perennial nurseries and garden centers, local and online, Terra Nova for commercial

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