How to Grow Podophyllum Plants

Guide to Growing Mayapple and Mandrake

Members of the Podophyllum genus are hardy perennials.

They have flat lobed leaves and bloom in the springtime carrying flowers below their leaves.

Podophyllum peltatum
Podophyllum peltatum by enviro runner

The flowers are usually white and cup shaped.

Some common names for Podophyllum include Mayapple, Mandrake, and Himalayan Mayapple.

Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Mayapple (Himalayan, Chinese), May apple (Indian), Mandrake.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 12 to 16 inches (30—40 cm).
  • Native: East Asia. North America.
  • Growing Region: Zones 3 to 9.

  • Flowers: Spring.
  • Flower Details: White. Cup-shaped.
  • Foliage: Herbaceous. Flat. Palmate. Lobed. Umbrella-like. 8 to 12 inches (20—30 cm).

  • Sow Outside: Seeds: Cover seed. Sow from the middle to late summer using fresh seed. Germination time: one to six months. 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. After one year transfer into pots. After two years of growth, transplant the seedlings to their final location in autumn.
    Plant rhizomes one inch deep (2.5 cm). Spacing 12 to 15 inches (30—38 cm).
  • Sow Inside: No.

  • Requirements and care: Light to full shade. Acidic to neutral soil pH 4 to 7. Rich, moist soil. Provide wood chip mulch in the spring, and a leaf mold mulch in the autumn. Regular watering to maintain a moist soil. Propagate: by dividing once blooming has finished. Self-seeds.
  • Family: Berberidaceae.
  • Closely Related Species: Barberries, Heavenly bamboo, and Mayapple.
  • Miscellaneous: Traditional medical uses include the induction of vomiting and as a laxative.

How to Grow Mayapple and other Podophyllum

Mayapples can either be grown from Rhizomes or from seeds. If growing from Rhizomes, bury them about 3 cm )~1 inch) deep.

The seeds should be fresh and sown into flats, under glass, in a shaded part of the garden in august or September.

Seeds can take from one to six months to germinate. Once you see seedlings, let them grow for a year. Then transplant to individual pots, and allow the Mayapple to grow for a further year. Finally, transplant into the garden in spring or autumn.

If you purchase Podophyllum from a garden center, then plant them outdoors in the spring or autumn. Use a spacing of about 30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 inches) apart.

Plants prefer to grow in a moist soil that is rich and acidic (pH 4 to 7).

They are able to thrive in both sunny and lightly shaded locations of the garden.

Caring for Podophyllum plants

The ground that Podophyllum plants grow in should be mulched in spring (wood chips) and autumn (leaf mild) to protect the plant.

As they like a moist soil, they should be watered frequently.

If you require further plants then they can be propagated by division once the plant has finished flowering.

Common Questions

How many members does the Podophyllum genus contain?

The Podophyllum genus, commonly known as Mayapples, currently contains seven species.

Do Podophyllum members make a good garden or landscaping plant?

Yes, Podophyllum can make great shade garden plants. They are appreciated for their attractive foliage and small but charming flowers.

Which Podophyllum species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

The most commonly grown species is Podophyllum peltatum (American Mayapple). It's adored for its umbrella-like leaves and small white flowers.

Are Podophyllum plants fragrant?

The flowers of the Podophyllum genus are not typically fragrant. They're more appreciated for their unique visual appeal.

What is the perfect location to grow Podophyllum?

Podophyllum prefers to grow in shady locations with rich, moist, well-draining soil. They do well under trees or in other shaded areas of the garden.

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

Podophyllum is not considered invasive in the USA. In fact, some species are native to North America.

How do I remove Podophyllum plants from my garden?

If necessary, Podophyllum can be removed by digging up the plant, making sure to remove all the roots to prevent regrowth.


The Podophyllum genus, part of the Berberidaceae family, includes perennials known as Mayapples. These woodland plants are known for their umbrella-like leaves and small, apple-like fruits.

Podophyllum plants prefer shaded areas and rich, moist soil. Planting is usually done in spring or fall. Their unique foliage makes them an interesting addition to woodland gardens, shade gardens, or underplantings for larger trees and shrubs.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Podophyllum plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Berberis thunbergii, Zamia pumila, Acantholimon plant, and Nandina domestica plants.