Doronicum – Leopard’s Bane – A Favorite Early Spring Bloomer
Doronicums are spring surprises for it’s the first daisy-shaped flowers of the season. Like magic, their delightful lemon-yellow, daisy-shapes appear among the blooming red tulips and yellow Daffodils. Doronicums grow about twelve-inches tall and almost as wide. Their dark-green, heart-shaped leaves embrace the upright, unbranched stem at its base. The leaves look leathery with pointy holly leaf like looking edges but are soft and pliable to the touch. The foliage is every bit as delightful as their flowers. Doronicum grows from a thickened underground stem called a rhizome that will creep to form lovely wide patches of flowers. To propagate Leopard’s Bane divide the plant right after it finishes flowering. They pull apart, are sturdy and plant easily.
Grow Doronicums in a shady garden that is moist but well-drained. They are drought sensitive and just like they magically appear in springtime, they can also disappear. If they do not get enough moisture or if mid-summer temperatures get too hot, they will move into dormancy. When planted in gardens that have cooler summers, Doronicums stay green much longer. It’s wise to mark the spot where Doronicums are planted so they won’t accidently get dug up if they do go dormant. Spring wouldn’t be as exciting without the magic appearance of Doronicum.
Plant Doronicums with other low growing spring blooming perennials like sky-blue Mysostis or For-Get-Me-Nots for a blue and yellow display, but tuck some late- breaking ferns into the area also in case it goes dormant because a fern’s unfurling fronds will completely camouflage any bare spots. Hosta is an outstanding companion for Doronicum for it breaks dormancy late, almost mid-May and becomes more splendid as the season passes into fall.
Doronicum has several varieties, ‘Magnificent’ is the taller and ‘Little Leo’ is small. They both have the same pleasing, attractive foliage. ‘Goldcut’ has stronger stems and is frequently used for cut flower arrangements.