Growing Darmera (Umbrella Plant)

Latin Name Pronunciation: dar-mer'uh 

Darmera peltata(once known as Peltiphyllum) is native to southwestern Oregon and the mountains of northern California. Its thick rhizomes produce dramatic mounds of broad, round, lobed leaves 10-12in across that resemble umbrellas turned inside. In fall, they turn a spectacular shade of red. The pale pink, star-shaped flowers, borne in clusters on branching stems, emerge before the leaves in early spring. The large leaves are a complement to Hosta, and the lacy foliage of Ferns or Astilbes.

In average garden soil, Darmera requires partial shade; in wet soil, it tolerates full sun. Plants won't tolerate standing water. Darmera needs full shade—no matter the moisture content of the soil—if it is to survive in the South. Plants are not well suited to Zones 8-10 in the deep South or to the desert Southwest.

Slugs and snails may chew holes in leaves, and are about the only problem gardeners seem to find with this handsome plant.

Set out shallow bowls of beer (any inexpensive brand is effective) to catch and drown slugs and snails. Empty the bowls frequently. Thin strips of copper seem to create an effective barrier when wrapped around the bottom of plant pots or formed into a collar on the ground around favorite plants. You might also try using diatomaceous earth (DE) as a barrier. (DE is available at many garden centers; it's important to use pesticide formulations, not the form sold for swimming pool filtration.) In the South, mulching with Zoysia clippings also deters slugs.