How to Grow Sanguisorba Plants

Guide to Growing Burnet, Salad Burnet, and Toper’s Plant

Sanguisorba plant species are hardy perennials that reach from 1.2 to 1.8 m (4 to 6 feet) in height.

Sanguisorba bloom in the middle of summer, and carry brushes of very small red, white or pink flowers atop long stems.

The foliage is usually a light green with the leaves being lance shaped.

Some common names for members of the Sanguisorba genus include Burnet, Salad burnet, and Toper's Plant.

The leaves can be used in cooking. Latin names include Sanguisorba officinalis, Sanguisorba obtusa, and Sanguisorba menziesii.

Sanguisorba obtusa
Sanguisorba obtusa by Carl E Lewis.

Sanguisorba Growing and Care Guide

  • Common Names: Burnet, Toper’s plant.
  • Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
  • Height: 16 to 78 inches (40—200 cm). Small shrubs.
  • Native: Northern Hemisphere (temperate areas).
  • Growing Region: Zones 4 to 9.

  • Flowers: Middle of summer.
  • Flower Details: White, red, pink. Tiny. Dense bottle-brush-like multi-flowered clusters.
  • Foliage: Herbaceous. Light green. Lanceolate. Comprised of pinnate oval leaflets.

  • Sow Outside: Surface. In pots under a cold-frame. Start of spring or towards the end of autumn.
  • Sow Inside: Germination time: one to two months. Temperature: 50°F (10°C). Late autumn/three months in advance. Transplant outdoors to their final the following spring. Space at 16 to 48 inches (40—120 cm) depending on species size.

  • Requirements and care: Full sunlight with light shade in the afternoon if grown in hot areas. Average to moderately fertile, moist soil. Good drainage. Soil pH 6 to 8. Provide spring mulch. Provide support. Harvesting leaves stimulates further leaf growth. Propagate: by dividing rots in the spring in cooler areas or the autumn in warmer areas.
  • Family: Rosaceae
  • Closely Related Species: Roses, Pears, Almomds, Peaches.
  • Miscellaneous: Can spread invasively from its rhizomes, so consider growing in a contained area. Salad/Garden burnet attracts butterflies and moths such as Grizzled Skipper and the Mouse moth to the garden. Plants grown indoors will require at least five hours sunlight to produce leaves suitable for culinary purposes.

How to Grow Burnet and Other Sanguisorba

When growing Sanguisorba members such as Burnet outdoors from seed, then sow on the surface either in late autumn or at the start of spring.

They like to grow in a sunny part of the garden, though in hot areas it may be better to grow in a part of the garden that receives a light shade in the afternoon. Ideally the soil that plants grow in will be moist, pH 6 to 8, and of an ordinary nature.

If starting off indoors, it should take the seeds about two months to germinate at 10 to 12 degrees Centigrade (50 to 54°F).

The seedlings should be allowed to grow for a year, then put outdoors in the following springtime.

Caring for Sanguisorba

Once growing it is fairly easy to care for Sanguisorba. They like moist soil so keep well watered. Supply a stake in windy areas, and cut back leaves frequently (this will encourage further growth). In the spring time, the plants should be supplied with a mulch. If you require more plants then they can be propagated by division in spring or autumn.

Common Questions

How many members does the Sanguisorba genus have?

The Sanguisorba genus includes around 30 species, commonly known as burnets, admired for their unique, bottlebrush-like flowers.

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

Yes, Sanguisorba plants are excellent for gardens, with their unique flowers adding structure and interest, particularly in wild or cottage garden styles.

Which Sanguisorba species are most frequently grown by gardeners?

Among the most popular Sanguisorba species is Sanguisorba officinalis (Great Burnet) due to its striking, long-lasting blooms.

Are members of the Sanguisorba plant genus fragrant?

While interesting visually, the flowers of Sanguisorba species are not typically fragrant.

What is the perfect location to grow Sanguisorba?

Sanguisorba thrives in full sun or partial shade with moist, well-drained soil. They're also tolerant of a variety of soil types.

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

Currently, Sanguisorba is not listed as invasive in the USA. Always check local regulations for the most accurate information.

How do I remove Sanguisorba plants from my garden?

For removing Sanguisorba, simply pull out the entire plant, including the root system, to prevent regrowth.


The Sanguisorba plant genus contains perennial plants native to temperate regions worldwide. They are admired for their unique, bottlebrush-like flowers and their feathery foliage.

Sanguisorba can be grown from seeds or divisions, typically in spring or autumn. They thrive in full sun to partial shade and prefer well-drained soil. Regular watering is required, particularly during dry periods, and plants may need staking to support their tall flower stems.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Sanguisorba. You may also enjoy the following Rosaceae growing guides: How to grow Waldsteinia ternata and Polyantha Roses.