Pulmonaria

Martha Stewart Living Television

We probably don't think much about the origins of the name "pulmonaria," focusing instead on its vibrant colors and spotted foliage, but it's derived from a Latin word meaning "suffering from lung disease." 

The contradiction between the beauty of the plant and its unpleasant name couldn't be more heightened. Usually growing to heights of well over a foot, cultivars such as 'Northern Lights,' 'Raspberry Splash,' or 'Trevi Fountain' are known for flowers that bloom in vivid shades of pink, raspberry, or cobalt blue and silvery leaves.

Pulmonarias are hardy in Zones 4 through 8, and prefer shade, although they'll tolerate sun if kept properly watered. Plant them in a good, well-draining garden loam, and tease out the roots. After pulmonarias flower, deadhead the spent blooms, and cut the foliage to the ground after the fall frost or before new growth resumes in spring. Divide in spring or fall every 3 to 5 years.

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