Epilobium Plant Growing & Care Guide for Gardeners

In this Gardener's HQ guide, we'll explore cultivating Epilobium plants in your garden, indoor spaces, and other settings.

Willoherb, California fuchsia, Fireweed: Cultivation & Garden Use

Epilobium are hardy and half hardy perennials that usually flower in the middle of summer.

Due to being a very large genus of plants, Epilobium plant sizes are very variable, though gardener's tend to have a preference for the smaller (10 to 20 cm / 4 to 8 inches) and larger (120 to 150 cm / 4 to 5 feet) varieties.

The smaller species usually grow in clumps, and have funnel shaped flowers of red. The larger varieties of Epilobium have small flowers of white or pink.

Epilobium angustifolium
Epilobium angustifolium - Fireweed / Rosebay Willowherb by wallygrom.

Some of the common names for Epilobium members include French Willow, Rosebay, Fireweed, and Willow herb.

Epilobium Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Willoherb, Spike-primrose, Fireweed, French Willow, Rosebay, Willow Herb.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial. Half hardy perennial. Annual.
Height: 4 to 96 inches (10 to 240 cm). Check this
Native: Temperate, subarctic and subantarctic regions.
Family: Onagraceae.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 9.
Flowers: Middle of summer.
Flower Details: Pink, red, orange, yellow, white, purple. Cone-shaped. Many species have tiny flowers.
Foliage: Ovate. Lanceolate. Opposite. Alternate.
Sow Outside: 1/8 inch (3 mm). Autumn using fresh seed. Germination time: two to four weeks. Seeds should first be sown into flats. Sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade, preferably close to a wall that faces north. Provide a glass/plastic covering. Keep an eye on the flats to ensure that the soil remains moist and to check if seedlings have emerged. Transplant Epilobium in the spring with a spacing of 12 to 24 inches (30 to 60 cm).
Sow Inside: No.
Requirements and care: Full sunlight or partial shade. Good drainage. Stony soil; dry soil for best results. Soil pH 6.0 to 7.0. Spreads rapidly so deadhead before they have chance to set seed. Propagate: Self-seeds readily. Softwood cuttings and division can be performed in the spring.
Miscellaneous: Many members of the Epilobium by many species of moth caterpillars.

How to grow French Willow and other Epilobium Plants in the Garden

It is best to grow French willow and other Epilobium plants outdoors in flats. The seeds should be planted at a depth of about 3 mm (1/8th inch) in the autumn using fresh seeds.

The flats should then be covered with glass and be placed against a north facing shed or wall in the garden.

Once seedlings emerge in the spring, they should be allowed to grow for 6 or 7 weeks and then transplanted at a spacing of 30 cm / 1 foot (small) to 60 cm / 2 feet (large). Locate in a sunny or lightly shaded area of the garden.

Members of Epilobium such as the French willow, prefer to grow in a soil that is of a stony and dry nature. Ideally with a slightly acidic soil of pH 6 to 7.

Caring for Epilobium

Once established French Willow and other Epilobium plants will pretty much look after themselves. Perhaps a little too well, so dead-head Epilobium after flowering to prevent them from self-seeding, and taking over the garden.

Common Questions

How many members does the Epilobium genus have?

The Epilobium genus is made up of around 165 species.

Do members of Epilobium make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, certain Epilobium species, like the Fireweed, add color to the garden and are great for attracting pollinators.

Which Epilobium species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Epilobium angustifolium (Fireweed) is often grown by gardeners.

Are members of the Epilobium plant genus fragrant?

No, Epilobium species are not known for their fragrance.

What is the perfect location to grow Epilobium?

Epilobium plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil.

Is Epilobium invasive in the USA, if so in which states?

Some species of Epilobium can be invasive, like Epilobium ciliatum, particularly in the western states.

How do I remove Epilobium plants from my garden?

To remove Epilobium, uproot the plant making sure to get all the roots to prevent regrowth.


The Epilobium genus, also known as Willowherbs, includes plant species native to temperate and subarctic regions worldwide. These annuals or perennials produce spikes of small, typically pink or white flowers from summer to early fall.

Epilobium plants prefer full sun to partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. They can be grown from seeds or division. While they make attractive additions to borders, wetland gardens, or pond edges, some species can be quite aggressive and may need to be controlled to prevent them from overtaking other plants.

I hope that you found this guide on how to grow Epilobium plants in your garden. You may also enjoy my gardening guides on how to grow California Fuchsia, Gaura plant, and Oenothera plants.