Deer resistant: yes 🦌
Moisture: needs consistently moist soil
Size: 48” H x 48” W
Bloom: Panicles of pinkish flowers in July
Hardiness zone: 4-5
Rodgersia is a stately plant grown more for its foliage than its flowers. Rodgersia pinnata have very large leaves a foot or more in diameter with 6-9 leaflets. Leaflets are rough and toothed. 'Hercules' is a variety with large leaves that emerge deep bronze-colored in the spring, fading to greenish-bronze. 'Chocolate Wing' sports dark chocolate-colored leaves in the spring that fade to greenish-bronze later in the season. Our 'Chocolate Wing' plants are still very small, and have not fully established yet. 'Hercules' has become a large stand in only 3 seasons. All Rodgersias are very sensitive to frost. Even the lightest spring frost will cause emerging leaves to curl and brown. However, not to worry: established Rodgersia will send up fresh leaves if it gets frost-nipped in early spring. New plants should be protected, if possible for the first few seasons from late spring frosts. These are spectacular specimen plants, and well worth siting in your garden. Ours is placed in a partly sunny location with eastern exposure but shade most of the day, where it thrives. Rodgersia will take several years to fully establish, but are otherwise low maintenance. Deer don’t like the hairy, rough leaves and have never bothered them. Panicles of pinkish flowers emerge above the basal foliage on sturdy stalks in July, but the foliage is the main show.
Rodgersia aesculifolia (fingerleaf Rodgersia) is a related form. It has up to 2-foot wide leaves with 7 segments, and can also become quite large. Its flowers are white instead of pink. We used to have a large, handsome stand of Rodgersia aesculifolia under a tree in deep shade where it thrived. Unfortunately we had to give up that stand when the garden had to be rearranged to install a fence, but have replanted it in 2020 in a shady northern exposure. It has rapidly established from two tiny plants in only 3 years.
Rodgersia are variously listed as hardy to Zone 4 or 5. We have never had issues with winter damage to any of our Rodgersias over many years. They always return each spring in Central New York.