How to grow Alchemilla mollis common name Lady's mantle

Dark red Cotinus with brigth green Alchemilla mollis

Alchemilla mollis, common name Lady's mantle, is an easy to grow herbaceous perennial, fully hardy and which will grow successfully in many conditions. The preferred growing conditions for Alchemilla  is damp soil with some sun, but it is a vigorous plant which will survive in most conditions.  This means it will tolerate semi shade, any aspect, exposed and sheltered spots which makes it a useful plant for awkward areas.  It will also grow in damp areas as long as they are not boggy. The most common variety on sale is A.mollis, a good variety with the RHS award of garden merit, always a safe bet when choosing a plant.

When it first comes into leaf and Alchemilla makes a fresh mound of zingy lime green foliage which is very attractive, especially with raindrops as seen in the image. The leaves are almost downy in appearance and hold the water well. 

Alchemilla mollis is one of those plants, like Hostas,  which look good in the rain.  

The flowers are formed on sprays, with multiple flower heads. When  the flowers first emerge they are a strong lime green colour which becomes a mass of tiny yellow flowers from early summer onwards. This variety grows to around 60cmc and makes good at the front of borders.  

Alchemilla mollis looks good with many plants,  especially good with Allium cristophii and the lime green foliage looks good with purples and blues. One advantage of growing Alchemilla with Alliums, and why it's such a good companion plant for Alliums, is that often the leaves around the base of Allium look tatty even before the plant has flowered, it's one of its shortcomings. Plant Alchemilla around the Alliums and it will cover the base leaves of the Allium.

Alchemilla also looks good as a contrast growing around the base of a Cotinus "Royal Purple", the strong lime green contrasts with the purple. The contrast is good but be aware a Cotinus is potentially a large shrub, 3 meters plus, although it can be kept in check by pruning.   Alchemilla also look good combined with the soft blue of Nepeta (Cat Mint) a nice mix of blues with lime green/yellow and both flowering in June.

 I have also seen Alchemilla planted to good effect growing at the base of a copper beech hedge and Alchemilla looks good along a path.

A Down side to growing Alchemilla Mollis - It's a self seeder

There is a down side to growing Alchemilla. It is that it is a big self seeder which some gardeners may find a problem, and it can be a chore to weed out where you don't want it. On the plus side, you do not have to bother propagating it from seed, or buying new plants. You can dig up the little plantlet and either bin it or replant it elsewhere in the garden; instant new plants.

The other issue is that Alchemilla comes into leaf early in the year and  can look tired by July, with brown spots and fawn areas marring the foliage, as in the images below.

An easy solution is to take the shears to it; either a complete haircut, cut it partially in stages and new clean foliage will be up and sprouting within a couple of weeks maximum and look good for the rest of the growing season.  It will not flower again, but it will produce fresh looking foliage. 

To illustrate how quickly it grows back, and encourage the bold gardener in you, look at the images below. The first shows the Alchemilla  in full bloom looking great, and then some weeks later when the foliage and flowers are looking sad, a bit tired and brown.  I then cut it back and within a short period of time, about 2.5-3 weeks,  it had re grown some new fresh foliage as in the third image. 

Alchemilla mollis is a simple plant, which is why there is not much to say about it. It is easy to grow, unfussy about its conditions and although a number are listed in the RHS Encyclopaedia of plants, you really only see A. mollis for sale.

Green wheelbarrow easy to grow

Alchemilla mollis is very easy to grow, too easy and can be invasive.

Updated 07.03.2020