Macleaya

Macleaya flowers

A genus of tall, stately, hardy herbaceous perennials. Large plants that need plenty of room to spread at the back of a large herbaceous border.

Family: Papaveraceae
Botanical Name: Macleaya (ma-klay-er)
Common Names: Plume poppy

Foliage: Deciduous, dense mounds of deeply cut, rounded, grey-green foliage.

Flowers: Tall plumes (airy panicles) of tiny white, pink or buff flowers.

Flowering Period: Summer (July, August).

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

Conditions: Full sun or partial shade. Plant in an east, west or south facing aspect, in a sheltered position.

Habit: Bushy, clump forming.

Type: Herbaceous rhizomatous perennial.

Origin: China, Japan.

Hardiness: Hardy in the UK.

Planting and Growing Macleaya

Easy to grow. Plant in the dormant season. Best in full sun but will tolerate light shade in a well-drained, deep, moderately fertile soil. Avoid waterlogged conditions.

Ideal plant for the back of the border. Needs plenty of space to grow and spread.

Taking Care of Macleaya

Stake tall varieties on exposed sites.

Pruning Macleaya

Cut plants down in late autumn.

Pests and Diseases

Slugs may attack shoots in early spring.

Propagating Macleaya

The easiest method of propagation is to detach rooted suckers in early spring and replant these immediately. Alternatively, divide established clumps in late autumn or spring.

Popular Varieties of Macleaya

Macleaya cordata (plume poppy) bears tall plumes of delicate, white blooms in July-August. Height up to 8ft (2.5m), spread 6ft (2m). Variety 'Flamingo' has pink flowers tinged with white.

Macleaya microcarpa has tall plumes of buff pink flowers. Height up to 8ft (2.5m), spread 6ft (2m). Cultivar 'Kelway's Coral Plume' has pink-tinged buff flowers. For sale at Crocus.