Lunaria

Lunaria flowers

A small group biennials and perennials, loved for their pretty fragrant flowers and architecturally striking, round papery seed pods. A useful nectar plant and popular with butterflies.

Family: Brassicaceae (cabbage)
Botanical Name: Lunaria
Common Names: Honesty, moonwort, penny flower

Foliage: Mid-green, toothed, heart-shaped or ovate leaves.

Flowers: Loose clusters of four-petalled flowers. Purple is the normal colour, but pink, white or red forms are also available. The flowers are followed by flattened pearly seed pods, which can be preserved for indoor decoration.

Flowering Period: Spring to early summer.

Soil: Moist but well-drained, fertile soil (chalk, sand or loam). Acid, alkaline or neutral pH.

Conditions: Sun or partial shade. Can be grown in an east, west or south facing aspect.

Habit: Bushy.

Type: Hardy biennial.

Origin: Europe.

Hardiness: Hardy throughout the UK.

Planting and Growing Lunaria

Easy to grow from seed. Honesty thrives in any well-drained soil in a partially shaded site. Ideal for dry sites under trees.

Once established they often self-seed prolifically around the garden.

Taking Care of Lunaria

The seed pods can be dried for winter decoration and flower arrangements. Pick them early to avoid autumn weather damage.

Pruning

Remember not to dead-head if you want the attractive seed pods. To preserve the pods cut them around August time (when still in good condition) and dry indoors.

Cut back faded stems of perennials down to the base at the end of the season.

Pests and Diseases

Prone to fungal diseases, viral disease and club root. Generally pest free.

Propagating Lunaria

Sow biennials outside from March to July, in a prepared seed bed. Thin to 6in (15cm) apart and plant out in September, ready for flowering the following spring. Once established they usually self-seed naturally.

Divide established perennials in spring.

Popular Varieties of Lunaria

Lunaria annua is a biennial with green, heart-shaped leaves. Fragrant purple flowers from March onwards, followed by large flat seed pods. Height to 28in (70cm), spread 12in (30cm). For sale at Thompson & Morgan. Cultivars include:

  • 'Albiflora' is a white flowered form with attractive pearl-like, translucent seed pods. For sale at Crocus.
  • 'Chedglow' (recent variety) has chocolate-green leaves and vibrant pinkish-purple flowers. For sale at Crocus.
  • 'Munstead Purple' a tall variety with large purple flowers.
  • 'Variegata' bears rosy purple flowers and green leaves with attractive cream variegation.

Lunaria rediviva is a bush-like deciduous perennial with small, pretty white fragrant flowers in spring followed by decorative seed pods. Height to 2.5ft (80cm). For sale at Crocus.