What Epimediums are low-growing, mostly herbaceous, woodland plants with pretty spider-like flowers in spring. Also known as bishop’s hats, barrenworts or fairy wings.
Origins Italy and southern central Europe, Algeria, Turkey, Iran, northern India, China, Korea and Japan. There are increasing numbers of species being discovered in the remote valleys of China’s Sichuan and Yunnan provinces by modern plant hunters. As a result European and American growers are producing largerflowered hybrids.
Season Flowering in spring among and above the wellcoloured new leaves, many are great evergreens, some providing good groundcover.
Size Most are around 15cm tall in leaf, with flowers reaching to 45cm. Foliage ranges in height from 6cm to 20cm, and while in flower they can reach up to 1.3m. Individual flowers are usually 1-3cm across.
Conditions Moist, welldrained, rich soil in light shade, although the traditional forms will grow and spread in dry shade. The Japanese species prefer an acid soil.
Hardiness Epimediums are generally hardy throughout the UK and northern Europe. Most of those featured here have an RHS hardiness rating of between H4 (-10ºC to -5ºC) and H7 (colder than -20ºC), and are suitable for gardens in USDA zones 4a-8b. *Holds an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society. Hardiness ratings given where available.