About to kill another Gunnera

Propaganda Garden DesignApril 22, 2002

Just received a Gunnera tinctoria from Heronswood. The plant was surprisinly big for what they were calling 2" size. It had 4 leaves and looked very good but of course as soon as I planted it near my pond it started to look a bit droopy. I mulched and watered well and the weather will be cool all week so I have high hopes. I killed 2 Gunnera manicata in the past so I'm hoping I'll have better success this time.

I love plants with BIG leaves.

Have Astilboides tabularis

Petasites japonica

Darmera peltata

Have Rheum palmata 'Tagutica' and Tetrapanax papyrifera on the way to round out my collection. Any other cool large leaved plants. Is their any hope for my Gunnera?

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apcohrs(z5 IL)

Zone 6? Probably not.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2002 at 12:38PM
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bob_r(z6 Ontario)

I planted a manicata in a ravine area with year-round seepage. It did fine this winter; I also had some success in the past with tinctoria. Check the post 'Gunnera Support Group?' posted by akebono, further down this forum. My followup dated April 15th has a link to 3 images of protective layers that I used this winter, and one of the surviving plant. If you're up to the effort, it can be done! Cheers, Bob

    Bookmark   April 23, 2002 at 9:44PM
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There is another form of Tetrapanax from Japan - so far no one has identified its species name to me - it has much larger leaves with deep serrations more like a giant castor bean. I've seen the leaves about 3 feet across. I've seen the plants in zone 7b. Should grow anywhere that the regular tetrapanax grows. Contact me for more details.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2002 at 4:14PM
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mrsgottln(Z8, Graham WA)

I am located up near Seattle, WA. My Gunnera has survived 2 winters so far. I am now looking for Petasites Japonicus var. giganteus. Does anyone know where I can purchase this plant in my area? Or, does anyone have some they would like to sell or trade? Thanks

    Bookmark   April 28, 2002 at 10:12AM
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I got all 4 different gunnera, and have them outside, in full sun, in a glass aquarium, where I can examine and hopefully learn what they want. The first leaf on the large one is already almost a foot wide and the small ones are multiplying, two with many flowers. I have been watering with pond, not tap water, and kept damp, not wet, which is instant to examine through glass.
Has anyone tried growing with added h2o beads?

    Bookmark   April 28, 2002 at 4:45PM
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eric_in_west_seattle(8 Seattle)

When you're a plant freak, sometimes you just need to move to a place where you can grow the plants you really want. Seattle is fine but southern coastal Oregon is even better. And then there's Hawaii.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2002 at 1:03AM
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City People's Plants

    Bookmark   May 4, 2002 at 8:02PM
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Propaganda Garden Design

Hey it is now 2 weeks later and my Gunnera is still alive! Of course this may not seem like a big deal but in the past they usually didn't last a week. I think so far the key was the early mid spring planting as I got it mail order. In the past they were only available to me in Late June at local nurseries so the heat and sun did them in. It lost one big leaf but is growing new ones. I still don't expect it to live too long but so far I am happy with it's progress. Does anyone have any experience with these that can tell me how big it can get (4 inch pot size) in one season if it makes it? Do they grow quickly or will it not do much.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2002 at 9:14PM
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On Sept 11, I planted a gunnera manicata..modest little beast , with 4 leaves about 1-2' high and babied it with compost and water..despite a non-resplendent winter I now have a 3 leaved-soon-to-be-monster about 3 1/2' high with 2-3' wide leaves..give it some attention and pretend you have a prodigal child that doesn't grow fat...but STARTS GETTIN BIG! They like sun, but not heat...feed the beast and incorporate mulch around it's drip line..mine is sitting in a raised mound of it and seems to be doing great!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2002 at 4:54AM
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bigred(z8 Ark.)

Ya'll are scaring me! I got 4 starts for gunnera(variety unknown,still small yet but the leaves are round about the size of a dinner plate)last year in a trade. Potted them up in 1 gal. pots and kept them in unheated greenhouse all winter. I just planted out 3 about 2 weeks ago, behind my little woodland pond under huge pinetrees w/ mid to late morning sun and pm.shade, where they immediately started growing like crazy.They share the bed w/ hydrangeas,columbines,hostas,ferns,heuchera,sibs.,callas and other shade/moisture loving plants. I'm hot and humid zone 8. What are my chances of getting them to survive.I've got #4 still in the greenhouse in case of emergency.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2002 at 7:30AM
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Propaganda Garden Design

Woohoo! Three weeks! It is still alive and this week it is supposed to be in the 60's and rainy or overcast all week so for sure it will survive a month! A new record! hehe. Hopefully by the time it gets hot it will be somewhat established and survive.
Fortunatley Plant Delights was out of Tetrapanax. I since learned that it can send down runners 30 feet away and can be a nuisance. I have enough to deal with.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2002 at 11:24PM
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The_Lavender_Lady(NW Oregon)

I have been growing Gunneras for 2 years now, and have learned by trial and error, that they like it hot and moist. They can tolerate a lot of heat as long as you keep them moist and mist their leaves. Sometimes if they are planted out in direct sun, they won't make it. If you give them a bit of portable shade (a lattice screen works great) while they are adjusting to the strong sun, they will do well. During the winter I fold the dying leaves over the crowns to insulate them. I also mulch with other leaves.
They sometimes seem like a lot of extra work, but they are well worth it.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2002 at 3:45AM
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Propaganda Garden Design

Well it is almost a month now. The Gunnera is alive and well. The weather was cool and rainy and it has new leaves. I baited for slugs as all my large leaved plants were being eaten. Tomorrow I'll try to get a pic of it. Do you think it is rooted in now and might make it when the heat comes?

    Bookmark   May 18, 2002 at 9:35PM
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The_Lavender_Lady(NW Oregon)

If it is leafing out then it is getting the nourishment it needs. Your roots must be doing fine. It sounds like you are the proud parent of a healthy Gunnera!!

    Bookmark   May 18, 2002 at 10:58PM
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once the heat of summer really turns on you will find your gunnera dying a slow death. They just can't stand the 90's for more than a couple of days. What the pacific northwest considers 'hot' we here in the deep south and midwest just laugh at....THAT IS NOT HOT!

    Bookmark   May 20, 2002 at 11:52AM
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The_Lavender_Lady(NW Oregon)

My Gunneras have all endured temps of 95-106 for a month solid last summer and are growing like weeds. So far the heat only hurts them if I fail to water them well. Misting their leaves during 100 degree weather seems to have helped...I have not lost one yet. I have lost one or two leaves when I forgot to water them but we have had two really hot (yes really! :-)) summers in a row, and it has not damaged them...

    Bookmark   May 23, 2002 at 12:43AM
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martina7(Vienna Austria)

i killed 3 or 4 gunneras myself and now i guess i know what i did wrong. they had shade, water and food enough, but for winter i did not wrap them up properly, they froze to death. one was killed in my livingroom watching the fireplace. now i have on for 2 winters and it's doing ok. In fall i cover it with leaves and i try to protect the whole heap of dampness. she (it's a she i decided) stays with rhododendron, woodruff and hydrangea, not to forget the 2 different rodgersias, she likes low ph, shade and moisture. i feed her on cowshit or horseshit and she munches. i'm not sure, but vienna (austria) should be about zone 6. i did not visit gunnera's sisters in our botanical garden this year. i guess they are at least 20 years old, living in almost a swamp and trees around. They're not really in shade, but might be shade at noon. they're enormous, at least 10 feet. during fall the cut them so the could pack a cask over them, fill that with leaves and put a heavy lid on top of the whole. in spring i once saw them lifing the lids with their new leaves.

so how is your gunnera doing today? by the way, i always got my gunneras around july or august, the were not available before.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2003 at 2:19PM
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jim_z7(zone7 Alabama)

In your original post you asked about any othe cool, large leaved plants. Do you grow any elephant ears (Alocasia, Colocasia, Xanthosoma)? My A.portadora had leaves 4 feet long last year and the X.violecens had leaves almost as large. There are a huge number of species of these genera and many have huge leaves besides the ones I mention. With a wide variety of colors and variagations they are just great. My favorite (right now) is C.gigantea. The leaves are about 3 feet across and the whole plant is a sort of pastel green. Just beautiful. I saw a mature Gunnera a couple of years ago on a trip to N.Calif. and loved it but I've heard many times it just won't surive in our southern heat (Alabama zone7 where 90 degrees is a cool summer day).

    Bookmark   May 29, 2003 at 1:50PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Add S.Florida to the list of bad sites for Gunnera.Did fine during winter and early spring but since warm nights have set in it's really declined. Decided to let it go as we still have 6 months or more of warm weather.
I figured this would happen just had to try.
Well now I have a site for the Madagascan elephant fern.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2003 at 3:10PM
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indymom(5- Indy)

Mine made it through the winter here in zone 5. I brought it inside, potted and placed it in a pot of water in a cool room(55-65 degrees). It is outside now. Not much bigger than I received it last spring, but w/ 2 crowns instead of 1. It got hit by the late frost we had (28 degrees) in mid May, but is recovering fine. I just gave it some of Milwalkee's best (milorganite) tucked just under the soil surface near the outside of the pot, away from the crown, so I'll wait and see what that does to it.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2003 at 10:56PM
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tracy_42(z5 MO)

Indymom: I am in zone 5 in MO and just received a baby gunnera. Very interested in your post. When you put the gunnera back out this spring is it still potted or planted in the garden? Where is it placed: east? Any other advice or tricks to keep this baby would be greatly appreciated. Thank You Tracy

    Bookmark   June 3, 2003 at 4:35PM
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dirtylady(7 NW WA)

I just came home with a gallon size gunnera too! I've read all the posts trying figure out what it likes so I can plant it in the right place! I've only seen one at a water garden about 10 feet from a pond in dark rich organic looking soil. I was hoping to do the same next to my Koi pond. It was sitting in 6 inches of water where I bought it (a hardware store that didn't know what it was)Is it a bog plant..water plant or moist land plant? cool or tropical?I'm in the pacific Northwest about 20 miles north of seattle closer to the mountains where it's a little colder. Is this a good zone for it? where does it originally come from? It's very cool...I'd hate to lose it!

    Bookmark   June 12, 2003 at 11:53AM
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kikikalena(CA z9 Sunset14)

I was up in Northern CA (near Lake Shasta) in July and found some Gunnera growing in filtered shade in a fast flowing creek next to a waterfall. It was growing quite well and the roots were attached to a mossy rock and went into the water. It was a very cool, mossy, wet, environment, for that area, which can get very hot in summer. So, maybe that information can be helpful.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2003 at 4:28AM
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harleydeby(z9 Florida)

Ok, zone 10 was a no go. What do you think about my zone? I just purchased seed for this plant and sure want to make it work. I have a canal at the end of my back yard, so it'll get plenty of moisture where I had planned to put it, and the filtered shade back there is what I was hoping would help it thrive. Was I wrong? Last winter I had the nice surprise in finding that apparently the added heat emitted from the canal water kept frost from my plants back there. Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2004 at 2:00AM
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Propaganda Garden Design

Give it a try Harleydeby but I wouldn't count on it. One of the things that Gunnera really don't care for it heat and humidity. These are plants for England, California and the Pacific Northwest. EVERY English garden has at least one Gunnera and all summer long I kept seeing bigger and better ones as I toured English gardens. I think the one at Wisley gets the prize for most impressive specimen with leaves at least 3 feet across.

But chin up. In Florida you can grow all sorts of tropicals with giant leaves. You could grow really impressive philodendrons. There are some more exotic ones if you don't want to be like everyone else. Or how about Tetrapanax?

    Bookmark   August 26, 2004 at 10:21AM
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autumnmoon(6a/se ks)

I have to put my 2 cents in here. I live in SE kansas, HOT and 85% humidity MOST of the summer, I have a gunnera i've neglected ALL summer long and its flourishing! It's in a pot, in semi sun, in very dry place,I dont even water it that often! I'm not sure where its going to winter over at, at this point, but as for the heat and humidity; its doing fine here, and has tripled in size, from about a gallon pot to a three gallon pot. No tray underneath or anything. I only water when the dries out a bit. I dont keep it WET, I dont fertilize or anything. The only thing I CAN say is that, the dirt is nice and loose in the pot. Its potting soil mixed with peat and sand.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 12:59AM
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Propaganda Garden Design

Hey Paula did you start it really early? I had luck with mine when I got it mail order April of 2002 (when I first did this post! Wow I can't believe how long ago that was and this post is still kicking around). I planted it out right away when it was still cool and wet out and by the time the heat came around it was settled in nicely and needed no special care. However we had a really cold winter that year and it did not survive.

I am curious as to how yours would do long term though come to think of it I do believe that I remember hearing of one in Virginia. What do I know though? I'm certainly not growing one now. I know they were very easy in coastal California (the garden I was at was digging up seedlings all the time and selling them in the nursery) and in England they were incredible. I will look for my pic from Wisley and post it.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2004 at 2:03AM
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harleydeby(z9 Florida)

Thanks all for the advice. Beings as I already purchased the seed via the internet, it has been shipped. I have no choice but to at least try them out. But I know now that I won't put them all out. I'd hate to see them all die because of my poor research. I'll share some with a good friend who lives in a different zone. She should do well with them.

BUT, I just thought of something here....... Perhaps I can put them out now. With our cooler winter climate coming they may fare well? I doubt seriously if they'll get frost where I had planned on letting them live. Maybe by the time the killer heat comes around again next summer, and after they've settled in, they will have established enough to make it? Hmmmmmm..... Maybe where there's a will, there's a way.......

    Bookmark   August 28, 2004 at 10:16AM
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autumnmoon(6a/se ks)

I did get mine early. Early enough that after I had planted it out in its pot, I had to go out one day and mulch it to hades and back because of another string of cold snaps we had. I think I might have gotten it late feb/early march. It hasnt seen the brunt of our winters yet. But I am not too keen on bringing things in for the winter because my house is so small. SO it will be left outside, but mulched back to hades again! I also plan on putting it on the south side of the house when I "winter it up". We'll see how it fared the winter next spring, I guess!


    Bookmark   August 29, 2004 at 10:38PM
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I know a gentleman who is/was a head propagator for a world reknown mail order nursery. In a plant collecting trip to Chile, he found gunnera growing where "the books" say they shouldn't grow; hot, dry, scree..........
Don't give up on them just because "the books" say they won't work in your climate. Remember, plants don't read books.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2004 at 11:41AM
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dxstuber(z9 NE FL)

Just returned from Victoria, BC where I saw a MASSIVE stand of this plant at the edge of pond at the world famous Butchart Gardens---very impressive. Though it sounds like it may be tough to grow in my heat, based on previous comments, I've got to give it a try.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2004 at 6:01PM
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Yes, do give it a try. I had super good luck when I planted in the fall. At first I thought it was a goner but covered the center crown with the dead leaves and realized that in the spring it had established a pretty good root system and took off. By summer it was hardy enough in my zone 9 to take the heat.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2007 at 2:21PM
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