Gillenia plants are a genus of hardy perennial shrubs that reach a height of about 1.2 meters.
They bloom in the summer when they carry white stellar flowers.
A commonly grown Gillenia plant in the garden is Bowman's Root. Latin names include Gillenia trifoliate and Gillenia stipulata.
Gillenia trifoliata by Campobello Island.
Common Names: Bowman’s root, American Ipecac, Indian Physic.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
Height: 30 to 50 inches (75 to 125 cm).
Native: Northern America.
Growing Region: Zones 4 to 8.
Flowers: Late spring and Summer.
Flower Details: White. Star-shaped.
Foliage: Serrated leaves. Palmate.
Sow Outside: 1/4 inch (6 mm). Autumn using fresh seed. Spacing 18 to 24 inches (45 to 60 cm). Seeds should first be sown into flats. Next 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 when they are strong.
Sow Inside: Germination time: two to three weeks. Autumn using fresh seed. Stratify by refrigeration for three months. Transplant outdoors in autumn.
Requirements and care: Full sunlight or shade. Good drainage. Soil pH 5.0 to 6.0.
Woody soil, rich soil. Mulch. Regular watering during periods of growth. Provide support. Cut back stems once flowering has completed. Propagate: by dividing in the spring in cooler areas or the autumn in warmer areas.
Miscellaneous: Synonymous with Porteranthus. There are two species in this genus and they are distinguished by their stipules; these being rounded and toothed in Gillenia stipulate and slender in Gillenia trifoliata.
It is best to first sow Bowman's roots in flats. Sow the seed at the beginning of autumn at a depth of 7mm; cover the flat with glass and sink into a shady part of the garden; keep moist. Once Bowman's roots germinate (about three weeks) and sprout transplant them (late autumn) into their final location.
Gillenia species such should be spaced at about 45 to 60 cm apart. They can grow in sunny and partially shaded parts of the garden. Ideally they prefer to have a rich, acidic (pH 5 to 6) woodland soil in which to grow.
Gillenia plants likes to grow in a moist soil so keep well watered; supply a permanent mulch; stake taller species. Once flowering has finished cut back plant stems. If you require more plants then propagate in the spring or autumn by division.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Gillenia plants. Updated September 2020.