Previously known as Cimicifuga. Common name: Bugbane.
Large, woodland edge plants with palmate leaves and tall wands of often fragrant starry white or pink flowers.
Like just about all members of the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family they are poisonous if eaten.
Lovely architectural plants. The purple and bronze leafed forms are particularly striking. The fragrant flowers fill the garden with scent particularly in the evening. Some types (not those we are offering) do have an unpleasant smell so check first.
Irresistible to bees, butterflies and hoverflies.
Cut Flower Use:
I've never tried, but beware they are toxic.
They are best if given some shade overhead (e.g. deciduous trees or a north facing fence), humus-rich soil and some summer moisture. If growing the bronze or purple leaved forms more sun is needed but the hot midday sun may scorch the leaves.
I grow the variety Pink Spike in a moist bed where it gets the morning and early afternoon sun and then is shaded by a tree.
Our plants are propagated by division in spring.
You can propagate by division in autumn or spring. Plants can be divided into large chunks or even down to individual eyes:- the new buds will be visible at or just below soil level. However they are fairly slow to bulk up so don't divide too often.
Old clumps can be very tough to break up. A pneumatic drill may do the job (joke)!
Some types can be propagated by seed but this can take two years to germinate, so patience is needed! Success may be obtained by sowing the seed as soon as collected and keeping warm (in a greenhouse or on a windowsill) for 3 months and then putting outside in the cold until spring when hopefully they will germinate.
Pests and Diseases:
It is worth the effort to divide clumps regularly as vine weevil grubs can become entrenched under old clumps eating the roots and weakening the plants.
The original name Cimicifuga comes from the Greek "bug" and "drive away"
Actaea simplex Pink Spike
Deep burgundy leaves and spires of fragrant pink and white flowers opening from pink buds. Very good butterfly and bee plant. Part shade but needs reasonable light. Prefers moist soil. Flowering height about 4ft 6in - 5ft.
Price: £6.00 (9cm pot)
Perfect Partners: Pink Spike is great with Heleniums and Lythrums
Read about how Pink Spike adds impact to a border even before it flowers in our Garden Notebook for August 2012.
Have look at our little Sway (animated presentation) on this flower - click here to load