Epimedium x rubrum
BISHOP'S HAT, BISHOP'S MITRE
Pronounced: ep-ee-MEE-dee-um REW-brum
Sunset zones: 1-9, 14-17.
USDA zones: 4-8.
Height:12 inches (15-30 cm).
Width: 12 inches (30 cm).
Mid to late spring.
Three quarter-inch crimson and creamy yellow flowers with upward curving spurs blossom in late March.
Heart-shaped, flushed red when leaves are young, turning red and bronze in autumn. In between the leaves are shiny and green. Leaves remain throughout winter.
Humus rich, fertile, well-drained, dry to medium soil.
Divide in autumn or after flowering.
Shear plants back to the ground in late winter, to allow the flowers and new leaf growth to be seen.
Rainy Side Notes
This is an exciting addition to any shady garden.
Dutch gardener André Donckelaar (1783-1858) crossed E. grandiflorum with E. alpinum and produced this handsome perennial, which Charles Morren named E. rubrum in 1854. Joseph Hooker at Kew, not knowing E. x rubrum's origins, thought it was a large-flowered cultivar of E. alpinum. In recent years, Darrell Probst, owner of Garden Vision Nursery (a nursery specializing in epimediums), disagrees saying, "…the colorful spring foliage could only come from E. sempervirens ‘Violet Queen'.
Whatever its lineage, the foliage is outstanding on this tough little partial shade plant, making it a choice ground cover for dry, shady positions. However, the red coloring on new leaves in spring is more intense in full sun, a position where it will need more water during our drought period in summer. The perennial creeps about four inches a year. When using them to cover the ground, plant 18 inches apart; in two seasons they will grow together, creating a solid mass of beautiful foliage. Plant them where they are sheltered from cold winds.
Epimedium x rubrum is a 2005 Great Plant Pick.
Photographed in author's garden.