Plants of the genus Ligularia exist across much of Eurasia and Africa, particularly in low-lying meadows and near wetlands. Several species within the genus are cultivated as ornamental plants for their coin-shaped foliage and showy yellow flowers, including Ligularia wilsoniana, Ligularia dentata and Ligularia stenocephala, as well as numerous hybrid cultivars with improved flowering and hardiness. Non-hybrid types of ligularia propagate readily from seed and naturalize easily if not deadheaded, but hybridized cultivars produce sterile seeds and only propagate through divisions.
Ligularia Seed Propagation
Gather seed from a healthy, non-hybrid ligularia plant in late summer once the flowers dry out and turn into dandelion-like seed heads. Plant the seeds fresh, or store them in a cool, dry place until late winter.
Combine 2 parts potting soil, 2 parts peat moss and 1 part perlite to make a moisture-retaining sprouting mixture. Fill a 4-inch plastic pot with the mixture for each ligularia plant desired. Thoroughly saturate each pot of sprouting medium with 2 cups of water.
Sow two ligularia seeds in each pot. Press the seeds onto the surface of the soil. Scatter a scant layer of soil, no thicker than 1/16 inch, over the seeds. Gently tamp it down.
Mist the ligularia seeds daily with a spray bottle to maintain constant moisture in the pot. Check the pots a couple of times each day to ensure the top 1/2 inch of soil is moist.
Watch for small, nubby sprouts in seven to 14 days. Continue to mist the seedlings daily while they develop their long taproot and first set of foliage, which takes another one to two weeks. Remove the less vigorous of the two seedlings from each pot.
Keep the ligularia seedlings in their sprouting pot until they grow to a height of between 5 and 10 inches. Plant them in a permanent bed with constantly moist, mildly acidic soil.
Ligularia Division Propagation
Divide ligularia plants in early spring or late summer when the plant is halfway dormant. Prepare a bed for the divisions with the same growing conditions as the parent plant before digging them up.
Work a pointed shovel into the soil 4 inches from the base of the ligularia plant. Press the blade of the shovel at least 8 inches deep.
Cut the soil around the base of the ligularia plant in a circular fashion to a depth of 8 inches. Press the blade of the shovel underneath the plant at an angle.
Pry the ligularia plant out of the ground. Do not be discouraged if it takes a while to pry it out of the ground since ligularia plants have very deep roots. Also, do not be concerned if a large quantity of roots breaks off, since they regenerate quickly.
Set the ligularia plant on a flat work surface outdoors. Cut the crown of the plant into divisions of equal size with an equal amount of roots attached to each one. Use a gardening knife or any sharp, serrated knife dedicated to gardening purposes.
Plant the ligularia divisions in the prepared bed. Dig holes corresponding to twice the size of the root ball, at least 18 inches apart. Hold the division in the hole so the base of the foliage is flush with the surrounding soil. Backfill around the roots until they are buried and the plant is steady and secure.
Water each division to a depth of 5 inches immediately after planting to ensure the bottommost roots are moistened. Water the divisions as you would the parent plant from then on.
Things You Will Need
- Potting soil
- Peat moss
- 4-inch plastic pots
- Spray bottle
- Pointed shovel
- Gardening knife
- "American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques"; Alan Toogood; 1999
- University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science: Perennial Plants: Ligularia; Leonard Perry
- University of Kentucky Horticulture Department: Kentucky Garden Flowers: Ligularia