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Allan designs and plants flowering gardens in Montreal, Zone 5 [USDA Zone 4] .

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More on Thalictrum, a Romantic Looking Perennial

Here is family of romantic looking plants that are almost ethereal. They exist in a class of their own.

Thalictrum are tall plants with lacy-looking buds that open into clusters of soft flowers; I stumbled into them by chance at a nursery 17 years ago. When I picked up the first variety that I saw, the plant tag indicated that it was tall. That is all I needed to know. Since I first placed it in my own garden, I have been rewarded with unusually delicate flower buds, on tall strong spikes, that appear to almost sing from a distance before they open up. In all the years that I have been growing this plant, the foliage has remained neat and compact at its mound-like base. It prefers dappled sunlight and is quite happy to grow in part shade. However, in direct sun, it will require extra moisture and it will bow towards the path of moving light. Staking the plant will correct that penchant. I use garden twine to secure the stalk right underneath the neck of the flower head while some gardeners are happy to let this perennial lean into neighboring plants for the unusual effect it creates.

The flower heads of this tall majestic perennial are both delicate and enchanting. However, showier plants in the garden will easily overpower them. Like other perennials in the soft pink-lilac family, the visuals of Thalictrum need to be enhanced. Its intrinsic beauty and unusual florets warrant the extra effort to make it appear impressive by planting it in multiples of three.

Since, my first experience with this plant, many newer cultivars have appeared on the market. The list below, while not all encompassing, reflects my favorites


T. Elin. 72 to 96 inches tall , blooms June to August, in Zones 3 to 7. Flowers are a combination of lavender and pale yellow with smoky purple foliage that fades to blue-green. Tall stems are purple. Plant is hard to find.






T. delavayi Splendide. 48 to 72 inches tall, blooms June to September in Zones 3 to 8. Flowers are lavender-mauve with cream stamens. Stems are black. Plant is hard to find.






T. Rochebrunianum. 60 inches tall, blooms August to September in Zones 5 to 8. Flowers are purple with dark lavender stems.




T. Black Stocking. 40 inches tall, blooms June to September in Zones 5a to 9b.  Flowers are deep purple with netted black stems. 







T. aquilegifolium. 40 inches tall, blooms June to July in Zone 5a to 8b. Flowers are mauve with dark purple stems.








T, delavayi Hewitt’s Double. 40 inches tall, blooms July to August in Zones 3 to 9. Flowers are lilac on purple stems.






T. actaeifolium Perfume Star. 36 inches tall, blooms from June to September in Zones 5 to 9. Flowers are lavender with white tips.



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Reader Comments (8)

It is a beautiful plant. I had it at my previous home where I had a lot more room.


May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEileen

I just recently became a fan of Thalictrum after hiking in the Shenandoah and seeing it in mass there. It was much more vigorous than I've seen it in gardens. You're absolutely right . . . it's ethereal. I'm crazy about any plant that exudes an expansive feeling, and I think this is one.

May 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Rainer

Hi Allan,
One of my favourites as well - although I think they're much better in person than in their photographs. Always commented on when someone visits my garden. I'm going to keep my eyes open for 'Black Stocking' - adore the way the flowers are held & those racy black stems. Gorgeous.

May 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarbarapc

These are beautiful, although as mentioned, the pictures don't do them justice.

May 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGarden Tip

I bought 4 "Hewitt;s Double" a little over a month ago, 3 are doing great and in bloom, the 4th has weak blooms but the leaves have turned yellow. What is the problem?

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary E Roberts

I bought 4 "Hewitt;s Double" a little over a month ago, 3 are doing great and in bloom, the 4th has weak blooms but the leaves have turned yellow. What is the problem?

July 2, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMary E Roberts

does they grow in INDIA ALSO

April 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterZEESHAN

In order to answer your question accurately, I need to know the USDA growing Zone in which you are located.

April 30, 2013 | Registered CommenterAllan

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