If you judge a plant by its name, then you’ll bypass the interesting shade-loving lungwort. The not-so-prettily-named plant is one of the first to burst on the landscape scene in the spring and for those who give this plant a chance, it’s highly prized for its ability to grow in shade, produce interesting leaves and colorful blooms. As the common name, lungwort, and its botanical name, Pulmonaria, alludes to, the plant has long been used to treat a variety of lung ailments. The white splotches on the leaves are said to resemble diseased lungs and the plant was used in early home remedies to treat pulmonary issue like coughing and wheezing.
Select a planting location that is in full to partial shade. The location must be shielded from the afternoon sun or the plants will wither.
Moist, humus-rich soil like that of a natural woodland floor is the best soil to plant lungwort in. Amend the soil with shredded leaves, compost and humus if needed.
Start With Plants
Lungwort can be grown from seeds, but the resulting plants don’t always stay true to plant type. Start with plants and set them out in the spring or fall for best results. Dig shallow planting hole 12 inches apart and set plants in the center. Back-fill holes, water in well and cover area with two inches of compost. During the first year after planting, keep the soil moist at all times so the plant roots will become established.
Lungwort blooms in early spring, usually before other spring bloomers like tulip and daffodils. Funnel-shaped bell flowers in blue, red, purple, pink or white will be borne on tall stems that rise above the interesting leaf mound. Leaves range in color from all green to almost all white and all splotchy, two-toned patterns in-between. The plant is hardy in zones 4 to 8 and will fill in a shaded area under the proper growing condition within a few seasons. Mature height and width will range between 8 to 24 inches.