Growing Guide
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Red barrenwort

Herbaceous Perennial Flower, Ground Cover

Epimedium x rubrum
Berberidaceae Family
Synonym: E. alpinum x E. grandiflorum, Epimedium alpinum var. rubrum

An excellent, long-lived groundcover for moist, shady sites. Once established, it can tolerate dry shade under trees. The heart-shaped leaves on the foot-tall plants are red when immature and in the fall. The flowers are red and yellow and resemble columbine.

Site Characteristics
  • part shade
  • full shade

Soil conditions:

  • tolerates droughty soil
  • requires well-drained soil
  • tolerates damp soil
  • requires high fertility
Once established, tolerates dry soils (for example, under trees where moisture competition is high), but prefers moist soil.

Hardiness zones:

  • 4 to 8

Special locations:

  • xeriscapes - Tolerates dry sites under trees once established, but prefers moist areas.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: perennial

Ease-of-care: easy

Height: 0.5 to 1 feet

Spread: 0.75 to 1.5 feet

Keeps spreading by rhizomes.

Bloom time:

  • mid-spring
  • late spring

Flower color:

  • red
  • yellow

All red, or a mixture of red and yellow on the same flower.

Foliage color:

  • light green
  • red

New leaves are red and turn red again in fall. Semi-evergreen foliage is usually bronze in winter.

Foliage texture: medium


  • cushion, mound or clump
  • spreading mass

Shape in flower: flower stalks with flowers hanging downward

Pendulous blooms borne on erect, branched flower stems.

Special Considerations
Special characteristics:
  • deer resistant
  • non-aggressive
  • non-invasive
  • not native to North America - Hybrid with European and Japanese parents.
  • evergreen - Semi-evergreen
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by division or separation - Divide in the spring before plants flower or in late summer or early fall after leaves are mature.

Maintenance and care:
You can leave semi-evergreen foliage overwinter and clean up early in spring. Or you can shear plants in fall. Use a lawn mower on large plantings. Spring shearing makes flowers more visible.

Seldom needs division.

More growing information: How to Grow Perennials

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