Rodgersia podophylla
Common Name: rodgersia
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Saxifragaceae
Native Range: Japan, Korea
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 3.00 to 5.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: Creamy white
Sun: Part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall

Culture

Best grown in rich, acidic, humusy, consistently moist soils in part shade. Tolerates wet, boggy soils. Leaf margins may brown up if soils are allowed to dry out. Deadhead spent flower stalks after bloom. Propagate by division or seed. Plants will spread by creeping rhizomes to form large colonies over time. Site plants in locations sheltered from strong winds to protect the large leaves from possible wind damage. Plants should also be sited in areas where they will have room to spread.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Rodgersia podophylla is a bold, clump-forming, rhizomatous perennial that is native to shaded slopes, moist woodlands and stream banks in Japan and Korea. Although the summer-blooming, astilbe-like, creamy-white flowers in foot-long clusters are ornamentally attractive, it is the large, coarsely-toothed, palmate, green to bronze-green leaves (basal leaves to 16” across/cauline leaves smaller) that primarily attract gardeners to this plant. This is a substantial perennial that typically forms a spreading foliage mound to 3' tall and as wide. It will naturalize over time by thick rhizomes. Each palmate-compound leaf has 5 (less frequently 7) lobes. Each lobe is deeply veined and serrated with 3-5 shallow lobes near the apex. Leaves emerge bronze-green in spring, mature to green in summer and finally turn bronze-red in fall. Small, white to greenish-white funnel-shaped, apetalous flowers bloom in dense, branched clusters (to 12" long) from June to August on upright stems rising 1'-2' above the foliage mound. This species is sometimes commonly called bronzeleaf rodgersia.

Genus name honors Rear-Admiral John Rodgers (1812-1882), distinguished American naval officer who commanded in 1852-1856 a Pacific expedition during which the first species of this genus was discovered.

Specific epithet comes from the Greek words for foot (podos) and leaf (phyllon).

Problems

No serious insect or disease problems. Slugs, snails may chew on the foliage. Watch for powdery mildew.

Garden Uses

Excellent foliage plant for moist garden sites. Best naturalized in part shade areas with consistent soil moisture. Grows well in moist woodland gardens, bog gardens, water garden peripheries or along stream banks. Can be effectively grown in the back of the border as long as soil moisture requirements can be met.