French name: Gunnére or Rhubarbe géante
Back in the UK I could only dream of owning a Gunnera manicata. The sheer size that this plant can grow to made it a big no-no for the small garden of our terraced house. Therefore our number one priority in our French garden, when digging the flower borders next to the small steam, was to create the perfect spot for a Gunnera manicata.
Large Gunneras can be quite expensive to buy, so when I saw a small plant for sale at Jardiland for less than 20 euros I snapped it up. Small or not, this little plant shot up even in its first year, so never be afraid to buy smaller, more cost effect plants. Once out of their pots they grow at a rate of knots.
Gunnera manicata grow to a spectacular size, and are perfect for using as a specimen plant in either a bog garden or next to a pond. They require deep, permanently moist, rich soil. To ensure that our Gunnera manicata never struggles for water, even in the heat of summer when temperatures can top 40c degrees, we have buried a small pipe which runs from the stream to the root of the plant.
How to overwinter Gunnera Manicata
The crowns of these glorious, architectural plants are prone to frost damage, and need nursing over winter to make sure they come back with a vengeance the following spring.
Once the first frosts arrive, cut all the leaves off the Gunnera down to its crown.
Then use these leaves to cover the crown
Finally top the whole lot off with a snug layer of protective fleece.
Here at Le Jardin Perdu we can have very cold winters, with temperatures of -10c not unusual along with weeks of thick snow. Protected in this way, our Gunnera manicata has survived the winters, and grown ever bigger each springtime.
Once the threat of the last frosts have passed, usually in April or May, you can uncover your Gunnera manicata, and allow him to grow to his full glory once more
If you have a Gunnera in your garden or have any more suggestions for protecting the plant over winter, I’d love to hear about them so please feel free to leave your comments in the box below.