SOON DARMERA PELTATA will send up its big green umbrella-like leaves, but on recent spring days when I needed either an extra sweater or some shade against baking heat (crazy weather!), the so-called umbrella plant had no weather protection of any kind for me. It did have flowers, though–beautiful ones, on tall, naked stems.
Out of the leaf litter they ascend.
When I purchased this native of woodsy streambanks in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon for my New York garden, it was still called Peltiphyllum peltatum. I have a thing for big-leaved plants (like Astilboides, its cousin Rodgersia, and even thuggish Petasites). I had to try Darmera, whose leaves can reach 18 inches or even 24 across, held 3 to 5 feet high.
Darmera can take substantial shade, but don’t let it struggle in too-dry soil. Finding the right light/soil moisture balance is the key; the more sun you give it, the more water it will crave. Missouri Botanical Garden says it can grow in sun if soil conditions are very moist, but I haven’t pushed it beyond half-day exposure here. (I don’t have a sunny, boggy spot for that experiment.) You’ll know if it’s too hot or dry, because the leaves will promptly burn.
Indeed Darmera, hardy to Zones 5-7, can even thrive in a bog. Don’t try to push it too far South, though, where it will be unhappy. Give the plant room, because it’s rhizomatous, and will colonize—in the very best way. What could be bad about a dramatic colony of green umbrellas?