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Plant to know: Lady’s mantle

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This is the start of regular feature I’ve been planning to start for about two years now. Plants to Know a quick growing guide for plants that you should, well, know about (clever, right?).

In each Plants to Know feature, I’ll share a plant with you, a bit about growing it and the basic facts, including the TIG classfication, my personal plant categorization system.

ladys mantle fact sheet

I can’t think of a better plant to start with than one I’ve mentioned several times on this blog and is always on the top of my must-have plant list: Alchemilla mollis aka lady’s mantle.

Lady’s mantle is primarily grown for its foliage, which is instantly recognizable. Thick round leaves with scalloped edges are a bright emerald green and have the charming quality of collecting raindrops and dew. 

lady's mantle has frothy chartreuse flowers

But I grow lady’s mantle just as much for its chartreuse flowers which are about the most perfect bouquet filler ever. It blooms in big tufts in late spring or early summer and the flowers last for several weeks before turning brown. Any that are left at this point get cut back in big handfuls.

Later in summer, the leaves can get a little tired looking and any particularly offensive foliage can be cut back. In fact, the entire plant can be cut back and fresh growth will quickly follow.

dwarf lady's mantle
I also grow a dwarf lady’s mantle—Alchemilla erythropoda—which sadly does not grow as quickly as A. mollis, but it’s perfectly charming right on the edge of the garden.

Cut it back at the end of the season or in spring. It grows relatively quickly, so you can allow large clumps to form or divide at will. In fact, I’ve divided it at all times of the growing season and this hardy bugger doesn’t seem to mind a bit. It will also reseed, but not aggressively, so small plants can be moved around wherever needed or shared with friends.

And that is one this plant’s big charms. It’s unlikely you’ll have to buy this plant, although you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it if you want to. Most gardeners will be happy to share this gem.

lady's mantle with nepeta

I think of lady’s mantle as an excellent border plant, but it’s also lovely in big clumps and as an underplanting for many trees. It provides a much-needed resting point in the garden without lacking interest. And the chartreuse flowers go well with literally every other color in the garden. It’s happy to play the best friend role to any number of plant starlets.

It’ll be happy in full sun down to quite a bit of shade, but it won’t thrive in very dry spots. 

Any plant with so many wonderful attributes surely deserves one of my favorite plant classifications: Workhouse.

Do you grow lady’s mantle?

37 Responses

  1. I am *obsessed* with the lady’s mantle and purple combination with the staircase in the back. What is the purple though- it doesn’t look like salvia?

  2. I like the LM, but it can really spread rapidly, choking out other plantings. And where it borders the lawn, the seeds drop in the grass and there are 100 s of now new seedlings. With tough almost wiry roots, it’s almost impossible to dig out of the lawn, so I’ve had to cut out the sod and replace every 2-3 years. Or mow overtop and accept all the bumpy knotted seedlings. Any solutions?

  3. At my landscape designers suggestion, a few years ago I surrounded the base of my flowering dogwood with Lady’s Mantle. This year I noticed my dogwood isn’t looking as healthy. Is it possible the lady’s mantle is sucking the life out of my beautiful tree?

    1. Rachel, we have the SAME question! We planted a dogwood 3 years ago with Ladies Mantle at the base. The Dogwood seems to always struggle, never flower, and losing its leaves early, turning read and dropping. Wondering if the LM is taking moisture or nutrients away from the Dogwood. Have you found out anything more about this? I have contacted the landscapers that planted it, but they suggest that “the dogwood looks normal for this time of year”.

  4. I have grown Ladies Mantle it seems forever. I live in Eastern Ontario, Canada & it is thriving here. In fact it has taken over one area of my garden, time to divide it & plant elsewhere. My garden receives enough moisture & the little droplets of water in the leaves is are wonderful. I think I can say it is rampant in my garden. I grow it in semi shade & it is very happy there. I also have a miniature plant & it behaves its self very well. I like the idea that we can divide it anytime of the growing season, yea, but was waiting to do it now. Thanks for the great tips on handling this beautiful plant.

  5. I’m so glad I found this blog! I love my ladies mantle too, but on mine, the chartreuse flowers always flop over and are kind of depressing on my walkway! I’m confident it gets enough water, but maybe it needs even more? Or should I deadhead the flowers when they do this? I’m curious if anyone else has this problem and tips to keep these lovely flowers upright. Thank you!!

    1. No, I don’t have this problem, the flowers stand up very well . I never dead head the flowers until they turn brown which takes a long time in my garden. Check you soil for moisture. Don’t know why they flop over .

    2. Our ladies mantle does the same. Maybe not always, but with rain the flowers become heavy and tip over. No getting back up. Kinda like the first photo Linda used. So you’re definitely not the only one. It’s a mystery to me how you could use the flowers in a bouquet. Hoping for flowers this year like the purple combination picture, I planted mine with salvia and nepeta

  6. Yes, this is one of my favorites! And I also love how the leaves and delicate flowers look in bouquets. Need to plant more Lady’s Mantle.

  7. Ladies Mantle is a staple in my shade garden here in north east Wisconsin. I understand the challenges of dry shade so by ammending the soil with good organic matter Ive had good sucess even in deep shade and under trees.

  8. Yes, it is a beauty but it is too dry here for it. I have tried it in many places in my garden. It takes off then…the drought we always have and I can’t seem to water enough to keep it alive. Sigh~~

  9. I love my Lady’s Mantle. I have grown it for years, beginning with using it as a border plant. I soon learned when it’s happy it gets to a size that needs dividing to move or share. Having moved to a new home fairly recently I was sure to dig up quite a few plants to bring to my new gardens. It is definitely a work horse. I would recommend to the beginner for gratifying success as well as to the new bed developer for the lovely color and leaf shape.

  10. You are so right about this being a workhorse plant. But it does not look like one with those foamy flowers. They are such a terrific color. I ripped out some of mine which had taken over a neglected area. I want to use it in a more prominent spot so I get those great color combos as in your photo.

  11. “Sow”grateful i found your blog. Very inspiring. Lokking forward to learning lots….and having a newly improved garden because of it. Thanks again!!!!!

  12. I love Lady’s Mantle. Part of my yard is very moist so it grows well there. My favorite spring bouquet is Lady’s Mantle with lilacs.

  13. I love the look of Lady’s Mantle but it has never done well/taken off for me. I plan to try again by winter sowing some and putting them in several locations. Especially love the chartreuse flowers with anything purple!

  14. I try repeatedly, but think it just gets too dry in KC in the summer. I have had a plant last for the past two years, so I have my fingers crossed. But it is small, and I have never had flowers. I love Lady’s Mantle, and my mother-in-law in Wisconsin has oodles of it. I wish it would grow better here.

  15. I have always loved Ladys Mantle and have found it always draws attention on garden tours I have hosted. Did you know the story that if you wash your face with the drops of water from the leaves you will stay forever young! A favorite with the garden visitors. Also where our garden fairies bath.

    Will try my next planting in a moister place because I had lost my last planting in dry shade. Our Summer’s here in N.C. can be very hot with extended periods of no rain.
    Thanks for the growing tips.

  16. Yes, I love my lady’s mantle! She does have a tendency to move herself around the garden, always in search of more moisture, i think. One of the things that I love is how droplets of water will sit in her leaves, looking like little beads of jewels. This is such a pretty plant that I enjoy on my path exiting my garden!

  17. I love this idea of a post concerning Plants to Know. It was the best I had ever read on a particular plant. This is the first time I have commented on your blog, but I truly enjoy reading it. Lis

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