Enormous rhubarb-like leaves rise from the ground on thick, thorny stalks. Often seen in large gardens and parks, particularly at the West Coast. A bold feature plant for the waterside. Large cone-like heads of green flowers appear in summer. Must have a mild-winter climate to survive outside, otherwise grow in tubs to winter indoors. Determined gardeners might build a four foot-square box in late fall, filled with dry leaves to give insulation in cold winter regions.
The most difficult part about caring for Gunnera is its moisture requirements. If you have a piece of ground that is constantly saturated from deck run-off or some low ground at the bottom of a hill, you’ve found the ideal place for growing Gunnera plants. Gunnera loves moist and boggy ground and must be kept well-watered at all times. Set a sprinkler next to the plant and let it go for an hour or so, as the leaves love moisture as much as the roots do.
Choose your planting spot in low ground that gets full sunlight for at least most of the day. Dig in lots of compost and other organic material when preparing the ground for planting. Give the plant a heavy feeding when you first plant it to give it a good start.
It takes a lot of energy to create this much growth, and this makes Gunnera a heavy feeder. In addition to the fertilizer you dig in with the first planting, feed them twice more during the season with a good, all purpose fertilizer. Side dress the plants and water the fertilizer into the soil next to the crown.
Many perennial plants can be propagated by dividing, but the Gunnera is so large that this method is hard to use. The best way to increase your Gunnera plot is by cutting out a portion of the crown much like you’d remove a wedge of pie. Do this in April or May before the main growth has begun. Plant this new juvenile plant at least 10 feet away to give both plants room to grow.
Gunnera may be tough, but it can be damaged by winter frost. Cut the leaves down around November and pile them on top of the center crown left in the ground. This will insulate the more tender parts of the plant from the cold. Remove the dead leaves early in the spring to allow new growth to spring up.
Information sources: www.perennials.com, www.gardeningknowhow.com
Genus - Gunnera
Species - Manicata
Common name - Chilean Rhubarb
Pre-Treatment - Not-required
Hardiness zones - 6 - 8
Height - 2,50 m
Spread - 3 m
Plant type - Perennial
Exposure - Sun, Partial Shade
Growth rate - Fast
Soil PH - Mildly acidic (pH 6.1-6.5)
Soil type - Moist, humus rich, clay
Water requirements - High
Landscape uses - Very decorative. Suitable for bogs and water gardens
Leaf / Flower color - Green / --
1. Sow indoors from February to July in pots of moist compost.
2. Sow thinly and cover with a fine layer of compost. Cover with glass, polythene or propagator lid.
3. IMPORTANT! Keep at +25-+30C. Keep moist, dont let to dry out.
4. Remove cover when seedlings appear.
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