Mukdenia rossii (Mukdenia), is a perennial plant (hardy to USDA zones 4-8) well suited to Ohio gardens, yet it remains known only by a few gardeners. This native of China forms a low-growing rhizomatous clump 8-12” tall and 1-2 feet wide (though it will take years to form a clump that large!). In China it can be found on rocky slopes and ravines, which tells us something about growing it in our own gardens.
Provide Mukdenia with soil that is moist, but well drained, because it cannot tolerate wet or dry soils. In the heat of summer it can go dormant if the soil is too dry. To prevent the plant from burning in late summer provide additional moisture. Mukdenia grows best in part shade, provided the shade is in the afternoon.
The fan-shaped foliage emerges bronze before turning dark green. In the fall Mukdenia puts on a show by changing color to deep crimson. The selection ‘Karasuba’ develops crimson leaf tips in late summer, adding to the ornamental qualities of the plant.
The coral flower stalks emerge before the foliage around 45 growing degree days. Flowers once mature, are white and appear against a backdrop of dark green foliage.
Mukdenia is a member of the Saxifragaceae, or Saxifrage family. You know other members of the Saxifragaceae including, Astilbe, Bergenia, Darmera, Huechera, Rodgersia, Tiarella, and Saxifrages.
Plant breeders are always working to create interesting and new plants. Mukdenia and Bergenia, two members of the Saxifragaceae, were crossed to create an intergeneric hybrid called x Mukgenia. The Selection ‘Nova Flame’ combines foliage characteristics of both parents, the long-lasting leathery leaves of Bergenia and the red tips and cut-leaf nature of Mukdenia. This interesting new plant has been planted at Secrest Arboretum, though it is too early to tell how it will perform in Ohio.
Look for Mukdenia this spring at a garden center near you!