How to Care for Epimedium


Epimedium, also known as barrenwort, is an herbaceous flowering perennial native to Asia and eastern Europe. The plant typically reaches about 10 inches in height and produces numerous flowers in spring that can be pink, orange, yellow or white in color. The foliage is considered ornamental during the fall when it turns to a reddish-gold color. The plant requires moderate care to become established, but only needs occasional maintenance thereafter.

Step 1

Plant during late spring in a location that receives partial to full shade throughout the day. Spread a 2-inch layer of aged manure over the planting site and use a garden tiller to incorporate it into the soil to increase fertility, aeration and drainage. Space plants 12 inches apart.

Step 2

Spread a 3-inch layer of mulch over the soil surrounding Epimedium plants to increase moisture conservation and suppress weeds. Start the layer of mulch at least 3 inches from the base of the plant to allow air circulation to the stem.

Step 3

Water plants once every five days during the first two months of growth. Reduce the frequency thereafter to once every 10 days to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Take care not to splash moisture on the leaves as damp foliage is more vulnerable to disease.

Step 4

Feed once a year during early spring, just before new growth begins. Use a balanced 10-10-10 NPK fertilizer to provide the proper nutrients for profuse flowering and thick foliage. Apply following the manufacturer's directions for proper dosage.

Step 5

Prune during late winter to encourage new growth and promote a compact growing habit. Pinch off any diseased, faded or dead foliage to improve appearance and conserve nutrients.

Things You'll Need

  • Aged manure
  • Garden tiller
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer


  • University of Tennessee Gardens: Plant of the Month: Barrenwort
  • "New England Gardener's Guide"; Jacqueline Hériteau, Holly Hunter Stonehill; 2002
  • "Indiana Gardener's Guide"; Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp and Tom Tyler; 2004
Keywords: epimedium, epimedium plants, barrenwort

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including