Last Updated on October 29, 2022 by Plant Mom Care
Lungwort, indigenous to Europe and Asia, is a short-lived perennial with hairy green, silver-speckled heart- or lance-shaped leaves. The plant is about 8 – 12 inches in height and 1 – 2 feet wide.
The flowers grow on almost 18-inch-long stalks. The five-petaled flowers are trumpet-shaped, usually pink when they open later turning violet blue. Flower colors vary by cultivar and species, coming in shades of pink, blue, purple, red, and white.
Although the flowers fade fast, the silver speckles can become so thick making the entire leaf appear silver. These attractive plants grow well in combination with other shade-loving plants and add a touch of brightness to dark areas of the garden.
Its moderate growth rate along with its rhizomatous roots allow it to gradually spread and colonize shaded areas in the garden.
These plants can also grow well along fences, garden walls, or other trees that provide some shade, although they will need frequent watering. Overall, these plants are relatively easy to maintain if they have sufficient water, and shade and are fed every year.
Lungwort Light Requirements
These plants prefer growing under partial or full shade as they get stressed by the direct bright light of summer. They grow and flower in spring when sunlight is often filtered by trees and other plants.
When grown indoors, they should be kept in a room with windows where light enters but does not fall squarely on the plants. Excessive shade can affect flowering so find a solution to enable the plants to be shaded from the full sun but also get sufficient indirect light.
These plants need watering every 7 – 10 days as they will struggle in under-watered or over-watered soil. Water them when the topsoil dries and/or in particularly hot weather. But don’t water them too much so that the soil becomes soggy or water-logged for too long.
They like low to moderate humidity levels. While hot summers might make them wilt a little, increase watering frequency. Misting will also help cool them down.
Their ideal growing temperature is within 60 – 65°F and can also tolerate low temperatures of -4°F. Avoid growing them in hot areas as they thrive in milder temperatures and will struggle and die back in hot and dry weather.
These plants prefer rich soil that stays moist. Soil that doesn’t retain moisture can make the plants decline and become dormant. Conversely, excessively wet soil will promote root rot.
They are very picky about soil pH and will perform poorly if soil pH doesn’t stay between 7.0 – 8.0. This also reflects in their flower colors that go from pink to blue – this is due to the shift in soil pH as the growing season advances. The ideal soil pH level was found to be 7.5 in one study.
While it’s possible to grow them in containers it is not commonly done, as potted plants require plenty of maintenance such as frequent watering. In addition, potting soil is largely peat-based and naturally acidic so you will have to amend it with agricultural lime to change the pH.
If you already have a potted plant growing with appropriate soil, repot it by digging it up and repotting it, preferably in a terracotta or clay pot, and make sure the pot is big enough for roots to spread out. Water it after repotting and follow your regular watering routine.
These perennials are fairly short-lived and decline after 4 or 5 years. They can be rejuvenated by dividing the roots when the plants appear to be declining. These plants are not typically grown from seed.
Wait until the plant has finished flowering then dig up the root ball. Gently separate the roots into clumps and replant the separated clumps in a shaded spot in your garden.
These plants don’t need too much fertilizer to thrive however, a little all-purpose flower fertilizer applied in spring until the beginning of summer will help promote good foliar growth.
You can add compost instead to promote more flowering and brighter flower colors
Pruning is not necessary except to remove dead or damaged foliage. You can also encourage bushier growth by cutting off shoot tips after flowering has finished.
Lungwort Common Problems
These plants seldom have serious problems with pests other than slugs and snails.
Powdery mildew can become a problem if the plants have poor air circulation. Space the plants away from each other and judiciously prune down some branches if necessary to improve air circulation.
Although they are mostly grown for their striking foliage, the colorful flowers are very attractive as well. A good flowering season depends on the right growing conditions – some sun during the morning but plenty of shade during the afternoon, proper watering but not over-watering, proper soil pH, and minimal feeding.
Getting good flowers is typically a matter of tweaking these factors to provide the plants with an ideal environment to grow and flower.
All the conditions mentioned will let the plants flourish and make these plants easy to maintain and care for with very few problems. Gardeners who first cultivate this plant are occasionally bothered by the plants dying back in the hot and dry conditions of midsummer.
This is natural with these plants and not a reason for concern. Cut away dead foliage and keep watering the plants but do not over-water them. This will encourage them to grow back when the weather is cooler in autumn.
Is lungwort a shade plant?
This plant grows best under the partial shade with protection from the hot sun in the afternoon. They can also grow well under full sun and full shade as mentioned, this plant isn’t very drought-tolerant under full sun and will need extra watering to grow well. They will not flower properly under full shade.
What can I plant next to lungwort?
This plant makes a wonderful border plant for gardens with other shade-loving flowers like Astilbe, Hostas, Hellebores, and Sweet Woodruff. The spotted leaves will look good throughout summer, even when the flowering season has finished.
Can Lungwort be divided?
The division is commonly used to propagate this plant, usually after the flowering season has finished in spring. It can also be divided into summer or early autumn.