Meadow rue spreads its summery magic wherever delicate panicles of flowers tower towards the sky. Equipped with a wide range of locations, the magnificent perennial thrives wonderfully in borders and along mighty trees. Since the species-rich genus comes up with everything from dainty ground cover to majestic structure-forming plants, there is a suitable flower beauty for every design wish. In order for Thalictrum to master the hoped-for flowering period from June to autumn, it does not set up any horticultural hurdles in cultivation. The following care information conveys in detail what is actually important for vigorous growth and lush flowering.


  • Plant family: Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae)
  • Genus: Meadow Rue (Thalictrum)
  • More than 100 species within the genus, including 15 in Europe
  • Herbaceous perennial plant with woody rhizomes
  • Growth heights from 15 cm to 250 cm
  • Dense panicles of flowers in white, yellowish, violet, pink or purple
  • Flowering time from June to August or July to October, depending on the species
  • Stalked, sessile and pinnate leaves
  • Hardy and deciduous
  • Slightly toxic in all parts

The meadow rue is a real cosmopolitan and serves as a decorative garden perennial for hobby gardeners all over the world. In addition, the flowering stalks of the most beautiful species and varieties are used as cut flowers.

location and soil conditions

Meadow rue is an excellent choice when it is a question of occupying a box seat in the garden in the light shade. If the soil offers sufficient moisture, it may also be in a sunny location. It should not be too windy in the bed so that the high-growing species can maintain their upright posture. The most important location factors at a glance:

  • Sunny to partially shaded position
  • Preferably cool, humid and sheltered from the wind
  • Nutrient-rich, fresh-moist and well-drained soil

Against the dark backdrop of an evergreen hedge, the flowering meadow rue creates breathtaking effects and at the same time finds the ideal location. The perennial is no less impressive along the banks of the pond, where it maintains a harmonious dialogue with ornamental grasses. In creatively designed borders, Thalictrum likes to act as the main perennial, surrounded by smaller perennial species. The plant also fulfills this task perfectly in natural gardens, swarmed by bees, bumblebees and butterflies.

Tip: Some of the most magnificent meadow rue grow to a height of more than 200 cm. In order to settle them in an airy location, a support post provides the necessary stability and reliably prevents windthrow.

watering and fertilizing

The meadow rue requires an adequate supply of water and nutrients. Therefore, water the perennial as soon as the soil has dried. Ideally, it is collected rainwater or decalcified tap water to meet the desire for a slightly acidic soil acidity. Under the lush foliage, this can even be necessary after a summer downpour, as the drops do not reach the roots. With a start fertilization in April in the form of long-term fertilizer, which is refreshed in June, the nutrient requirement is covered. Alternatively, give a portion of leaf compost with horn shavings every 2-3 weeks from April to August if you prefer organic fertilization. The use of liquid fertilizer in the planter is recommended, as this is easy to dose and apply.

To cut

Properly cared for Thalictrum has the potential for repeated flowering, provided space is created with the targeted pruning. How to cut the summer perennial correctly:

  • Cut off wilted flower spikes down to the first pair of leaves to encourage reblooming
  • Cut freshly blossomed stems in the morning to decorate vases
  • Cut back close to the ground in autumn or late winter

With all pruning work, remember that you are dealing with a buttercup plant with a slight poisonous content. Therefore, wear gloves and long-sleeved clothing to avoid unpleasant skin irritations.

Tip: Pinching the shoots once or twice after planting promotes further branching.


All meadow rue species that are suitable for ornamental gardens have tubers or rhizomes as outlasting organs. Although the above-ground parts of the plant are completely retracted in winter, the perennial survives frosty temperatures down to – 28 degrees Celsius in the soil without damage. After the first frost, cut the withered shoots to the ground and cover the planting site with a layer of leaves or needle brushwood. If the temperatures exceed zero degrees in spring, the light winter protection is removed so that no mold forms underneath. If the plant is in the bucket, the following precautions are advisable so that the root ball does not freeze through:

  • Before the first frost, place meadow rue in a pot on a block of wood in front of the south wall of the house
  • Cover the planter with bubble wrap or garden fleece
  • Cut the shoots down to the ground to cover the substrate with leaves or wood shavings

If perennials perish in winter, the dilemma rarely results from frostbite. Instead, drought stress is the most common cause when a meadow rue does not sprout again in spring. If Grim Reaper misses the snow, water the beds and tubs on mild days.


For the offspring of further specimens of a meadow rue, the division of the root ball is primarily recommended, followed by the cuttings method; both explicitly suitable for species and varieties native to Europe. The popular Chinese meadow rue (Thalictrum delavayi) or the yellow meadow rue (Thalictrum flavum), which also comes from Asia, can be propagated more successfully by sowing. The three methods are explained in more detail below:


In early spring, when the soil has thawed well, the window for propagation by division opens. Loosen the root ball all around with the digging fork and lift it out of the ground with the spade. Laid out on a firm surface, such as a wooden board, divide the plant into two or more segments. As long as a section has at least two buds, there are good chances that the campaign will be successful. At the new location, dig a small pit and enrich the soil with leaf compost and horn shavings. While maintaining the previous planting depth, plant the meadow rue and water generously.

Note: A split for rejuvenation is not beneficial on Thalictrum. Either it is an already short-lived species, like the double meadow rue, or the plant only gains in beauty from year to year if left alone, like the native columbine meadow rue.


In early summer, there is a good chance that propagation with cuttings will succeed. Follow these steps:

  • Cut off non-flowering shoot tips with a length of 10-15 cm
  • Defoliate the bottom half and cut the top leaves in half
  • Fill small pots with peat sand, cactus soil or a mix of peat soil and sand
  • Use two-thirds of each cutting and cover with a transparent hood
  • Pour preferably from below and place your pupils in a semi-shady, sheltered place

While the substrate is constantly kept slightly moist, a new root system develops on the cuttings. A fresh shoot signals the successful course of rooting. The hood has done its job and can be removed. When the seed pot is fully rooted, plant the young meadow rue in the bed or bucket.


Collect the seeds from the nut fruits in autumn to sow them as freshly as possible. For this purpose, a seed box is filled with seed soil or peat sand. Then scatter the seeds and sieve them 2-3 cm thick with substrate, sand or vermiculite. Moisten, cover and water regularly throughout the winter in a cold box or sheltered garden area. After the seeds have received the necessary cold stimulus, you can look forward to numerous seedlings in spring. Alternatively, carry out the stratification in the refrigerator. How to do it:

  • Place the fresh seeds in a plastic bag with damp sand and seal tightly
  • Store in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator for 4-6 weeks
  • Check the moisture level from time to time to mist with soft water if necessary

After the period has expired, sow the seeds in small pots with seed soil so that they germinate in a partially shaded window seat at 15-18 degrees Celsius. If at least 2 more leaves have developed over the two cotyledons, pricking is done. Until mid-May, care for the seedlings with soft water and highly diluted liquid fertilizer until the planting season begins.

Beautiful species and varieties

The Thalictrum genus comes up with a multi-faceted mix of species and varieties. In the following, we briefly present recommended specimens for the private garden:

Columbine Meadow Rue ‘Thundercloud’ (Thalictrum aquilegiifolium)
The charming species captivates with three-pinnate leaves reminiscent of a columbine. The perennial presents its purple-pink panicles from May to July.

  • Growth height 70 to 90 cm
  • Ideally suited for open spaces and the edge of trees

Magnificent meadow rue (Thalictrum rochebruneanum)
It lives up to its name with red-violet flowers from June to August on long panicles that sway as light as a feather in the wind. Despite its size, the magnificent meadow rue is very stable and tolerates sunny positions as long as the soil is not too dry.

  • Growth height 90-120 cm
  • Very nice as a solitaire and main perennial

Large meadow rue (Thalictrum polygamum)
The popular species creates transparent effects in light shade with greenish-white flowers. The grey-blue foliage, which underscores the delicate panicles of flowers, is very decorative.

  • Growth height 150 to 180 cm
  • Magnificent backdrop plant in front of a dark woody edge

Yellow meadow rue (Thalictrum flavum ssp. glaucum)
The sulphur-yellow flowers contrast wonderfully with the silvery-green, slightly blue-tinged foliage. With its magnificent stems, the well-steady perennial also makes a beautiful vase decoration for living spaces. Its popularity is based not least on an extra-long flowering period that lasts well into October.

  • Growth height 120 to 150 cm
  • Ideal for bank planting and in wet meadows

Double meadow rue ‘Hewitt’s Double’ (Thalictrum delavayi)
Its relatively short life span of a few years makes up for this variety with lush, double flowers in bright violet. If it receives support due to the heavy panicles of flowers, the magnificent perennial adorns the garden from July to September. If you cut back to the first pair of leaves after the first flowering, you will be rewarded with an equally dense second flowering.

  • Growth height 80 to 120 cm
  • The ideal ornamental plant for the perennial border

Dwarf meadow rue (Thalictrum kiusianum)
A diverse genus such as Thalictrum cannot do without an opulent groundcover. The dwarf meadow rue flowers in a soft pink and covers the small bed or the tub opaquely thanks to small runners.

  • Growth height 10 to 15 cm
  • Nice ground cover for the small garden

The diverse Thalictrum genus gives us magnificent summer perennials that act as eye-catchers in borders, on the edge of trees or along the bank of the pond. If you fancy cultivating a meadow rue in your garden, extensive previous gardening knowledge is not required. The ornamental plant thrives in a partially shaded location with nutrient-rich, humus-moist and well-drained soil. As this care information explains, cultivation rests on just three pillars. Regular watering during dry periods, organic fertilizers from April to August and pruning after flowering bring out the best in this charming perennial. If you don’t get tired of them, you can simply multiply the beauty of the flowers by dividing them or grow more specimens with the help of cuttings or seeds.

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