Can Brunnera be grown indoors in planters?


 Can Brunnera be grown indoors in planters? Winter’s dormant phase? Any particular cultivars that are better indoors?


Liz Stanley, Horticulture Community Education Assistant

Brunnera is a spring and early summer blooming perennial native to Siberia and the eastern Mediterranean. Plants that grow in northern climates require a dormant cold period in their life cycle. You’ve probably noticed that by the time mid-summer rolls around in Maine (especially in these hot summers), brunnera has slowly gone into rest mode – already having stored plenty of energy in the roots for next season. More detail about growing brunnera (and varieties) in the Cornell Perennial Growing Guides.

If you’d like to try growing brunnera indoors, you can pot one up in a high quality soilless mix (without fertilizer). Set the plant in a cool, shady, moist (but not wet) location. When late fall comes, place the pot in an unheated area like a garage or shed and surround the pot with bark mulch to protect the roots from freeze and thaw cycles. Cover with a few balsam fir boughs to protect the crown. After mid-February, bring your pot into a cool room with adequate humidity and indirect light and watch it daily to see if it awakens. When leaves have emerged and are an inch high, apply a very diluted fertilizer-like fish emulsion with kelp. Further watering should be done from the base via a dish to encourage the roots to reach down into the pot. Avoid placing the plant near windows with full sun or in dry rooms with direct sources of heat like a wood stove or forced hot air vents. Since the plant has thin, papery leaves and likes dappled shade and moist soil, a heated room in your home may not be the ideal place for it to grow. Brunnera is a very pretty plant and gardening is all about experimenting, so it may be worth a try.