Pulmonaria, common name Lungwort, is a semi-evergreen, early spring flowering hardy perennial. Pulmonaria are a shade loving plant which prefer moist, well-drained soil, in shade or semishade and in these conditions Pulmonaria will thrive and the plants naturally multiply. Pulmonaria flower very early in the year, late winter/early spring and are attractive to emerging solitary bees providing much needed early nectar in late February, March and April. Pulmonaria flowers are blue, white, pink and some a combination of both.
Pulmonaria are small plants, up to about 35cms and form clumps around 45cms which makes them good for front of borders, or ground cover, and in the right conditions look nice in a woodland border. Many have attractive white spotted leaves such as in the image above and below left of P. 'Sissinghurst White' and also P.'Lewis Palmer' both of which have the RHS garden award of garden merit and P. 'Fruhlingshimmel'
Two of the strongest standout blue Pulmonaria are 'Mawson's blue' and 'Blue Ensign', which second center image, both of which have unspotted leaves similar to the right image.
Pulmonaria like cool shady conditions and are not happy in full sun. When Pulmonaria are grown in too much sun, it may scorch their leaves and they will be more prone to mildew. If time allows, when growing Pulmonaria, after flowering, remove any damaged or tired looking leaves which will also make way for the new leaf growth which appears in the summer. Also remove from Pulmonaria any leaves showing signs of mildew.
Pulmonaria will show a new growth of leaves in the summer. Like Hellebores, the old leaves on Pulmonaria lay at the base of the plant with the new growth in the centre. If the old growth is shabby, it can be cut off near the ground, leaving the new fresh foliage uppermost.
Whether it necessary to cut the leaves on Pulmonaria often depends on its growing conditions. In ideal conditions, a woodland setting with shade, the leaves often remain fresh and the Pulmonaria will grow with no attention or maintenance. If grown in a sunny dry spot, the old leaves will often need cutting back.
Since Pulmonaria are a plant which likes moist conditions in semi shade, it is not best suited to growing in containers. This is because most containers dry out more quickly that a garden border. If grown in a container, Pulmonaria would benefit from a mulch to help retain water, possibly some water retaining gel and the container would need to be placed in semi shade conditions.