Thalictrum aquilegiifolium

Thalictrum aquilegiifolium

Thalictrum delavayi 'Album'

Thalictrum delavayi 'Album'

Thalictrum delavayi

Thalictum delavayi

How to grow Thalictrum

I love Thalictrum. It is a fantastic herbaceous perennial, tall with delicate fluffy flowers which seem to float on the breeze.

The height of Thalictrum depends on the variety but generally it is a tall plant, growing between 1.2 -2.5M.  It is one of the best and easiest plants to grow and gives a great height to the borders. Thalictrum, common name Meadow Rue, flowers in the summer and has the additional benefit of long-lasting flowers with attractive seed heads. It is herbaceous, which means it dies back over the autumn leaving bare earth in the winter, from which fresh new growth appears in the spring.

Thalictrum's preferred growing conditions are soil which is on the moist side, although well drained. That said Thalictrum will grow reasonably well in most borders in terms of position and soil types, and tolerates partial shade. Although it is tall, I have never bothered to stake it and despite some gales and poor summer weather it has remained (mostly) upright. One advantage of not staking Thalictrum is that with the breeze the whole plant moves around, and it seems not to mind floating around freely without being staked.  If your garden is prone to blustery winds rather than stake Thalictrum, which spoils its lovely ethereal shape, plant around it to give it protection and support, such as with Delphinium or a contrasting shrub.

Thalictrum coming into flower so delicate

Thalictrum has multiple flower heads  which are usually shades of pink/purple and also white, with long-lasting flowers. The image above left show Thalictrum aquilegiifolium which is commonly sold in garden centres. It has the RHS garden merit award and is fully hardy. The other images above are on the right Thalictrum delavayi, also readily available online and in garden centres,  and the middle image is T. Album a white variety. Thalictrum delavayi and aquilegiifolium both grow up to around a meter which makes them ideal for the back of a border. Thalictrum can be cut back after flowering or delayed until the late winter/early spring as the foliage and seed heads remain attractive. I leave the seed heads and usually I am rewarded by seeing small birds perched on them.

Thalictrum delavayi Splendide White

 Thalictrum can self seed but not so much as to be invasive and is trouble free. If you need to divide a clump, this is best done early spring or early autumn. However, another advantage of Thalictrum is that it can be left for many years undisturbed and does not need routinely to be divided, unlike some other perennials. It really is maintenance free.

There is little downside to growing Thalictrum, except perhaps its tendency to self seed. The image left is of a lovely white variety known as T. delavayi 'Splendide White ' which is fully hardy and tolerant of dappled shade, preferring soil which is on the damp side.

What to Plant with Thalictrum

Thalictrum with Cotinus

Thalictrum with Cotinus

Thalictrum with Delphiniums

Thalictrum with Delphiniums

Thalictrum streamside

Thalictrum streamside

Thalictrum look good with a great variety of plants, including grasses. Thalictrum is a really versatile plant, looking good with a wide range of plants from Clematis  to contemporary grasses such as  Misacanthus sinensis 'Kleine Silberspinne' or Molinia Caerulea.  

Green wheelbarrow easy to grow

Thalictrum is a green wheelbarrow plant, it is very easy to grow, unfussy about conditions and maintenance free.

If Thalictrum is not the plant for you there are lots of other great summer flowering plants which combine well with Thalictrum, and ideas on summer planting combinations.

Last updated 11.12.2019