Brighten up a shady area in the garden with the colorful flowers and silvery foliage of lungwort (Pulmonaria spp.). It pairs well with hellebores, hostas, ferns, bleeding hearts, and other shade perennials. The patterned leaves have a silvery hue that contrasts well with the green foliage of other perennials. Plant it under deciduous trees or along woodland pathways for edging.
The common name, lungwort, comes from the 16th and 17th centuries beliefs that the spots on the leaves indicated it could be used as treatment for lung diseases. Lungwort is native to Europe and parts of Russia and is often referred to as Bethlehem Sage.
The color-changing flowers of lungwort are unusual. They open pink, change to violet, and finally blue as they mature. Flowers open at different times, so often, all three colors are on the plant at one time. The flowers of lungwort provide an early nectar source for bees. They bloom alongside hellebores in late winter and continue blooming through early spring. The rest of the year, the foliage takes center stage. The leaves can be green spotted with silver to almost all silver.
Lungwort is cold hardy in USDA planting zones 5 to 9. Some varieties are even more cold hardy, up to zone 3. In South Carolina, lungwort is semi-evergreen, as the leaves do not go fully dormant in winter. It grows best in part shade (only morning sun) and prefers soil enriched with organic matter. Lungwort should be watered weekly during periods of no rainfall. Fertilize it with a slow-release all-purpose fertilizer. Lungwort is deer and rabbit resistant. Occasionally, slugs will eat the leaves.
Lungwort has a clumping habit, and plants grow 24 inches wide by 10 inches tall. It spreads slowly by rhizomes and benefits fromRead more on hgic.clemson.edu