How to Plant Herbaceous Epimedium


Epimedium are perennial growing, flowering plants that are sometimes called Bishop's hat, barrenwort, longspur and longspur epimedium. Originally native to Japan, Korea and China, epimedium can be grown as a ground cover or as attractive specimen plants along borders or under trees. They can grow between 1/4 inch to 18 inches tall, depending on the variety, and are hardy in the USDA Zones 4 to 8.

Step 1

Divide and separate a root system of an herbaceous epimedium. To do this, use a pair of snips to cut out three to four sections from the root system. If you have a container-grown epimedium proceed to Step 4 below. Cut off the top stalks from each of the divisions down to the top of the root system.

Step 2

Set each of the divisions into a bucket that containers 1 to 2 inches of water. Let the root divisions soak until you are ready to plant them. But do not let them soak in the water for more than 72 hours or they may begin to rot.

Step 3

Choose a suitable planting area for the epimedium that will provide full to part shade. In cooler northern climates choose a site that is going to provide partial shade all day. In hotter southern climates choose a site that will provide full shade.

Step 4

Dig up the planting ares for the epimedium using a shovel or a garden fork to a depth of about 12 to 14 inches. Make sure to remove all rocks, sticks, large roots or other items which can interfere with the epimedium's growth.

Step 5

Lay out over the planting area a 2- to 3-inch layer of sphagnum peat moss. Work the peat moss down into the soil about 6 to 8 inches. To improve fertility of the soil, lay out a 2- to 3-inch layer of dehydrated compost, or spread out approximately 1/4 to 1/2 cup of an all-purpose soluble fertilizer, such as 12-12-12. Epimediums prefers acidic soil that is fertile and rich.

Step 6

Dig planting holes for the epimediums that will accommodate each of the root divisions, if you are planting epimediums via a separation of the root system. If you are planting a container-grown epimedium, dig a planting hole twice the diameter of its container and approximately the same depth. Each hole should be approximately 1 foot apart.

Step 7

Remove the container-grown epimedium from its pot using a pair of multi-purpose snips. Beginning at a drain hole, cut along the side of the container up to the rim. Do this all around the container until you can easily remove the plant from its pot.

Step 8

Place an epimedium into a planting hole. Make sure the epimedium is sitting level in the hole. Scoop soil around the epimedium to fill the planting hole full with soil, firming it down as you proceed.Water each of the epimediums with approximately 1/2 gallon of water.

Things You'll Need

  • Epimedium plant
  • Snips
  • Bucket
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Shovel or garden fork
  • Trowel


  • Sunset Plant Finder: Epimediums
  • Cornell University: Barrenwort
  • The University of Washington: Plant Profile Epimediums

Who Can Help

  • United States National Arboretum: Planting Zones
Keywords: planting bishop's hat, growing epimediums, planting herbaceous epimedium

About this Author

Katelyn Lynn is a certified holistic health practitioner who specializes in orthomolecular medicine and preventative modalities. She also has extensive experience in botany and horticulture. Lynn has been writing articles for various websites relating to health and wellness since 2007. She has been published on She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in alternative medicine from Everglades University.