American households are moving towards Epimediums
for a reason. Epimediums typically provide the perfect low,
slow-spreading foliage plant for shady areas. They bloom en
masse in spring with sprays of small uniquely-shaped flowers
in a wide variety of colors. The heart-shaped foliage often
emerges with attractive patterns of bright red or deep purple,
turning green for the summer.
Their ideal conditions are evenly moist, well drained soils in an area with dappled sun. But they are tough enough to take part sun, deep dry shade, and a variety of less than ideal soil conditions without hurting their aesthetic, only slowing their spread.
Nearly immortal once established, they can be kept in clumps or allowed to slowly expand and form a groundcover. The mats of foliage show none of the aggressive tendencies of most spreading plants.
New breeding is producing a lot more drama in this genus. A
visit to the French breeder, Thierry Delabroye, showed us the
future of Epimedium breeding. We should see even bigger
plants with large flowers on long sprays and new ranges of
color and form for both flower and foliage.
No longer content being put in a shady corner, these new Epimediums stand up and demand to be noticed! Interestingly, the common name, horny goat weed, refers to the same active ingredient as in male enhancement supplements.