The Hepatica is a genus that belongs to the Ranunculaceae family. It is an herbaceous perennial that is native to the Northern Hemisphere. Other common names for this plant include liverleaf and liverwort. The reason behind its name is that the leaves of the plant look like the human liver and have three lobes. Traditionally, this plant was thought to have medicinal properties that could help treat liver problems, but research conducted on the properties of this plant proves that the opposite is true. This plant can irritate the skin if it comes into direct contact with it, and can also prove to be poisonous if eaten.
Table of Contents
Features of the Hepatica Plant
The Hepatica plant can grow up to a height of 3 to 6 inches. It has dark green leaves that are glossy and leathery with some hair growing underneath them. The leaves are approximately 2 inches wide and have 3 lobes. They change to a slight purplish color in fall, and old leaves die once the new leaves start to arrive.
The flowers of this plant are star-shaped and appear somewhere between the months of April and May. They are around 1 inch wide and do not have any petals. They come in various colors like white, pink, purple, and blue, and the central stamens have a slightly yellowish color. This plant attracts pollinators like bees and other flies.
In addition to having leaves with slight tufts of hair on them, the Hepatica plant also bears fruit that is hairy and short tipped.
Cultivation of the Hepatica Plant
This plant grows well in partial shade to full shade, which makes it an ideal plant for the woodlands. It needs well-drained soil in order to grow; however, it can also grow in damp soil in some areas. The soil can be acidic, neutral, or alkaline, but the most suited type is alkaline in order for the plant to grow and thrive. The Hepatica plant is grown from seeds that are available online and at stores in many colors and varieties. It is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8. Special care should be taken that this ornamental plant does not have any disturbances at the root. This is why it should be planted at a location that has been decided very thoughtfully.
It can also inhibit the growth of nearby plants due to its inhibiting nature, especially legumes. Adding to that, these plants also need regular fertilization in order to get all the nutrients that they need to grow well. Liquid fertilizer should be used right at the beginning, and special care should be taken as this plant is quite likely to get infected by fungus.
Types of Hepatica Flowers
There are many varieties of the Hepatica plant. The most popular ones are given below with their details.
Hepatica Nobilis (Blue Shades)
This variety is very easy to grow. It grows to a height of 9 to 15 centimeters and has single blue flowers that show up at the start of spring, mostly in February. The foliage is attractively marbled and is a deep green color. This variety is very easy to grow, and it can grow in acidic or alkaline soil. It can best be put to use in rock gardens and alpine houses.
In the initial stages after planting, this plant must receive an ample amount of sunlight. But right after that, it should be kept in the shade to protect it from the scorching heat of the sun. If left in the sun for too long, the heat can cause the flowers to die. This variant of the Hepatica plant needs high humidity in order to ensure maximum growth. Before flowering happens, old leaves should be removed so that this plant remains fresh and healthy for longer. The USDA hardiness zone for this variety is 7.
Hepatica Nobilis (Pink Shades)
This variety is characterized by its pink flowers that blossom during the months of February and March. The foliage is evergreen and has a marble-like texture. This plant grows to a height of 9 to 15 centimeters. It has also received the Award of Garden Merit (AGM). Under ideal conditions, this plant should be given shade in order to grow healthily.
This variant of the Hepatica Nobilis does well in any soil that is acidic or alkaline. It can best be put to use in rock gardens and containers. The USDA hardiness zones for this plant are 5 to 7. It takes around 5 to 10 years for this plant to grow fully, and it looks best when planted with other spring-flowering woodlanders. The growth rate of this variety is slower than that of the others, as demonstrated by its almost decade-long growing period.
Hepatica Americana ‘Ashwood Marbles’
This variety is characterized by marbled leaves that are silver in color, and flowers that are lavender-blue. Sometimes, the flowers can even have a slight pink tinge to them. They bloom in the months of February and March. In order to promote the healthy growth of these plants, it’s best to grow them in a sheltered area. They typically grow up to a height of 10 to 15 centimeters.
Any soil is ideal for the growth of this plant as long as it is acidic or alkaline. Regular fertilizing is also needed to ensure that Hepatica Americana gets all the nutrients it needs to grow into a healthy plant. It is hardy in USDA zone 7.
This variety is characterized by small flowers that bloom very early. The flower mainly comes in white but can also be in other colors like pink and purple. The flowers are 1 inch wide and typically have 5 to 12 petals. Another common name for this variety is Sharp Lobed Hepatica. Full sun and partial shade are both ideals for the growth of this plant alongside any soil that is acidic or alkaline. For optimal growth, the soil should have some rocky pieces, including limestone pieces and decaying leaves. The semi-evergreen foliage has leaves that are 3 inches long, which are lobed in 3 parts. Each lobe is the shape of an egg and has a pointed tip.
The plant grows to a height of 10 centimeters and spreads to a width of 10 centimeters, too. It takes approximately 5 to 10 years for this plant to grow to its maximum. The blooming period for this plant is mid-spring and lasts around 3 weeks. The flowers of this plant are short-lived and often fall off. The propagation of this plant is done via reseeding, and the plant reseeds itself. This particular variety of Hepatica also attracts a lot of bees, so care should be taken when planting them in your garden. The leaves of this plant are poisonous and should be kept away from the reach of humans and animals.
Hepatica acutiloba x H. Nobilis Multipetala
This variety is hardy in USDA zone 7 and is a combination of two species. This hybrid has upward-facing flowers, which it takes from the Hepatica acutiloba, and bluish-colored flowers, which it takes from the Hepatica Nobilis Multipetala. It is a vigorous plant that blooms in the months of February and March. It grows to a height of 15 centimeters and needs partial shade to grow to its best.
It also needs soil that is alkaline or acidic in order to ensure that it grows properly. Regular fertilizing might be needed to ensure that this plant gets all the desired nutrients it needs in order to grow into a healthy plant.
Hepatica Nobilis Var. Japonica
This variety is hardy in USDA zone 6. Purple flowers emerge from this variant of the Hepatica plant, which blooms in the months of February and March. As the name suggests, this variety originates from Japan. It needs shade to grow well, and the soil should have an average amount of moisture. This plant can grow to a height of 6 inches and has a clumping growth habit.
The Hepatica plant is a rather colorful one and can light up any garden with its beauty!