Lungwort is the unattractive common name of a very attractive and useful group of plants that grow best in shaded areas. It is also known as Bethlehem sage.
The main attraction of lungwort is the dark green, silver-spotted leaves. It blooms early in the spring, just as new foliage emerges. Its flower buds are pink but open to bright blue. The flowers grow eight to 12 inches in high before fading, but the foliage remains attractive throughout the summer, providing an attractive accent for other shade-loving plants.
There are many lungwort cultivars to choose from that have leaves with markings of different shapes and sizes. Hardy to USDA zone 3 and an elevation of 8,000 feet, lungwort grows best if the soil is amended with compost for better moisture retention. Once established it will need only moderate watering, making it a good candidate for drier shaded areas or under trees with competitive roots.
Removing the faded flowers is really the only maintenance these durable, pretty plants require.
For more information, see the following Colorado State Extension fact sheet(s).
- Vegetable garden: Soil Management and Fertilization
- Choosing a Soil Amendment
- Ground Cover Plants
- Perennial gardening
- Herbaceous Perennials
- Ground Covers for Mountain Communities
Do you have a question? Try Ask an Expert!
Updated Friday, April 19, 2013