For a low growing ground cover plant in a shaded position, Epimedium leptorrhizum makes an excellent choice. This is a chinese species with attractive olive green foliage and delicate white to rosy pink flowers in spring.
The foliage is lance shaped, with slightly serrated edges, also nicely textured, the flowers themselves are large by epimedium standards which makes this such a desirable form. Reaching a height of around 15cm the flowers appear above the foliage on typical wirery stems. New foliage emerges tinged with red and is very attractive in spring, fading to the deeper green as it matures.
Epimedium leptorrhizum is evergreen to semi deciduous in most Australian conditions. Although it is regarded as drought tolerant, best performance will be in a humus rich moist but well drained soil.
Shade is essential, foliage will burn in direct hot sun. Epimedium leptorrhizum will spread slowly by underground rhizomes over time to form a large clump. Propagation by division is easy in late winter to early spring.
Many gardeners will cut back old foliage in late winter to improve the the appearance of the new growth and the flowers. Mulch around plants in early spring to improve soil fertility and help maintain a cool root run. Fertilize with a liquid seaweed fertilizer in spring every two weeks. A slow release general purpose fertilizer will improve performance.
Garden and Landscaping Uses
Excellent as a ground cover plant for shaded areas. Well suited as a low low growing border plant for shaded pathways and also useful in shaded areas of the rock garden. Plant along the edge of raised rock walls as an interesting feature.