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Complete guide to Hardy Tropical Plants

Growing Gunnera Manicata in the UK

by Plants for all Seasons 24 Mar 2023 0 Comments

Gunnera manicata, also known as the giant rhubarb or dinosaur food, is a dramatic, large-leaved perennial plant native to South America. It can be grown in the UK, adding a tropical touch to your garden. To grow Gunnera manicata successfully in the UK, follow these steps:

    1. Choose the right location: Gunnera manicata thrives in damp, boggy soil and prefers a sheltered position in partial shade. The plant can tolerate full sun, but it needs consistently moist soil. Avoid planting it in areas with strong winds, as this may damage the leaves.

    2. Prepare the soil: Amend the planting area with organic matter such as compost, well-rotted manure, or leaf mold to improve soil fertility and water retention. This will help create the moist conditions that Gunnera manicata prefers.

    3. Planting: Purchase a small Gunnera manicata plant or root division from a nursery or online supplier. Plant it in the prepared soil, ensuring that the crown of the plant is just above the soil level. Space the plants about 6-8 feet (1.8-2.4 meters) apart, as they can grow quite large and need room to spread. Water thoroughly after planting.

    4. Watering and feeding: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the first growing season as the plant establishes itself. Avoid over-watering, as this can cause root rot. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to promote strong growth.

    5. Mulching: Apply a thick layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant, such as bark chips or compost, to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. This will also provide additional nutrients as the mulch decomposes.

    6. Pruning: Gunnera manicata requires minimal pruning. Remove any dead or damaged leaves during the growing season. In autumn, cut back the entire plant to ground level to prepare it for winter.

    7. Winter protection: Gunnera manicata is not fully hardy in the UK, so it requires protection during the winter months. After cutting back the leaves in autumn, cover the plant's crown with a thick layer of straw or fallen leaves to insulate it from freezing temperatures. Alternatively, you can use the trimmed leaves to cover the crown as added protection. Remove the protective layer in early spring as the weather warms up and new growth begins.

By following these steps, you can successfully grow Gunnera manicata in the UK, adding a striking and exotic element to your garden.

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