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Filipendulas for the Garden

Filipendula vulgarisOften called false spirea to which they are related, the Filipendulas are herbaceous perennials in the rose family (Rosaceae) and include meadowsweets, dropwort and Queen of the Prairie. The inflorescences are carried on strong leafy stems and made up of a multitude of small five-petaled white to pink flowers with a tuft of stamens. They are good for cutting. The leaves are compound with one leaflet being much larger than the others. Most Filipendulas live in moist areas but dropwort (F. vulgaris) is more drought tolerant than the others. All Filipendulas prefer alkaline soil (pH 7.0-7.5 and full sun to partial shade. Plants may be propagated by division in fall or by seed. The genus name, Filipendula , comes from filum meaning thread, and pendulus meaning hanging, and refers to the root tubers that hang on the fibrous roots of F. hexapetala, the plant which gave the genus its name. The species are distinguished primarily by bloom time and small differences in leaf structure.

Filipendula_palmataSiberian Meadowsweet (F. palmata)
The flowers are borne in flattened heads six inches wide. The leaves have white wooly hairs on the underside and a terminal leaflet three to eight inches long, palmately lobed into seven to nine segments.

Size: 3-4’ H x 3’ W
Flower Color: Pale pink fading to white
Bloom Time: Late spring, early summer
Hardiness: Zones 3-8
Outstanding Selections:
‘Elegans’ (White flowers with red stamens)
‘Nana’ (6-12” H)

Japanese Meadowsweet (F. purpurea)
Filipendula purpureaThe fragrant flowers are darker pink than those of F. palmata and the stems have a purple tinge. The leaves have a four to seven lobed terminal leaflet with doubly serrated margins. Plants can be grown in full sun if soil moisture is consistent and sufficient.

Size: 1-4’ H x 2’ W
Flower Color: Pink
Bloom Time: Late summer to fall
Hardiness: Zones 6-9
Outstanding Selections:
‘Alba’ (white flowers)
‘Elegans’ (identical to F. palmata above)

Queen of the Prairie (F. rubra)Filipendula rubra 3A native of eastern US, this species has large panicles six to nine inches wide of peach pink flowers with exserted, conspicuous stamens. The dark green leaves are pinnately compound with the terminal leaflet being five to eight inches long and having seven to nine lobes.

Size: 6-8’ H x 4’ W
Flower Color: Peach-pink
Bloom Time: Summer
Hardiness: Zones 3-9
Outstanding Selections:
‘Albicans’ (White flowers)
‘Venusta’ (Deep pink to carmine flowers)

Queen of the Meadow (F. ulmaria)
filipendula-ulmariaCreamy white flowers are carried in clusters four to six inches across. The leaves have a three to five lobed terminal leaflet and white hairs on the underside.

Size:3-6’ H x 2’ W
Flower Color: White
Bloom Time: Mid-summer to late summer
Hardiness: Zones 3-9
Outstanding Selections:
‘Aurea’ (Golden yellow foliage)
‘Flore-Plena’ (Snow white, double flowers; 4-6’ H)
‘Variegata’ (Yellow variegated; 4’ tall)

Dropwort (Filpendula vulgaris)
Filipendula vulgarisA native of Europe, dropwort has creamy white flowers that are often tinged with pink and are carried in branched, flattened inflorescences four to six inches across. The shiny mid-green leaves are four to ten inches long and divided into one inch long leaflets giving it a fern like appearance.

Size: 2-3’ H x 2’ W
Flower Color: White
Bloom Time: Summer
Hardiness: Zones 3-8

‘Flore-pleno’ (Pure white double flowers; 1-2’ H)