Gunnera manicata (Giant Chile rhubarb) Growing Gunnera in the UK

If you want to grow a plant with the largest leaves possible, then it has to be Gunnera manicata – Giant Chile rhubarb (G. manicata), an absolute essential for the exotic garden that is, if you have enough room! There is a valley with swaths of them growing to perfection at Abbotsbury Gardens in Dorset, a sight to behold. It is easy to divide and split gunnera to cover a greater area.

Gunnera is a very dramatic, clump-forming herbaceous perennial with the biggest leaves that can be grown outside in the UK.  This Goliath of a plant is indigenous to regions from Coloumbia to Brazil, growing from 1.8-3m high and 3-4m wide, with enormous rhubarb-like, rounded, prominently veined, sharply toothed, deep green leaves that are spiny underneath and anything up to 2-2.5m across, on prickly stalks  up to 2.5m long.

BUY: In Stock here from UK Sellers
In early summer tiny red flowers are formed on wide, erect spikes 1-1.8m tall. Hardy to-15° C and probably lower with a good mulch.

Is Gunnera Invasive in the UK, and why remove the flowers?

Is Gunnera Invasive in the UK, and why remove the flowers?

We have an extensive Gunnera grow guide for those interested, and other articles covering topics such as the best time to divide gunnera, whether gunnera is poisonous or toxic to dogs, whether you should be worried about Gunnera being invasive and when to remove the flower spikes, whether gunnera is part of the rhubarb family or how to over winter gunnera. We also cover whether gunnera can be grown in pots and finally the best places to buy gunnera in the UK.

When cut down by frost, place the old leaves over the crowns, to protect them from prolonged freezing periods. It can also be grown in a very large container though it will be smaller in stature. Gunnera is non toxic to dogs. 

Common Name: Giant Chile rhubarb Although nothing to do with rhubarb!
Latin Name: Gunnera manicata
Tenderness Rating: Hardy
Ease of growing: Easy
Position: Full sun to dappled shade
Soil Condition: Moisture retentive fertile soils – It works well as a pond marginal

What is a Gunnera?

It is often referred to as a giant rhubarb, Chilean rhubarb, and sometimes dinosaur food. It has short and stout rhizomes as stems and broad umbrella-shaped leaves up to 6 feet wide. Its leaves are shaped like rhubarbs with 4-6 lobes and hairy bottoms 

It blooms little green flowers in the summer, followed by tiny red fruits that are dispersed by birds to other patches of land close by.

Gunnera is a herbaceous plant that does not co-exist with other plants. It forms large thick patches that other plants cannot grow into, oftentimes overgrowing whatever plant in these surroundings.

What types of Gunnera are there?

Gunnera Manicata

Gunnera manicata

Gunnera manicata

Gunnera manicata is a giant Brazilian rhubarb with large distinctive leaves that are round kidney shaped and is ideal for an architectural plant. Its leaves grow up to 6 feet in diameter while its rhizome stems can extend up to 10 feet. During summer, its leaves gunnera manicata produces conical-shaped pannicles that consist of tiny red-green florets. These extend up to 3-5 meters high. 

Gunnera manicata are easily distinguished by their leaves that sit on top of prickly rhizome stems. The leaves are large, palmately lobed with prominent veins and sharply toothed. This creates a dramatic landscape and that is why it is a popular gardener’s choice for large gardens.

Gunnera Tinctoria

Gunnera Tinctoria also called Chilean rhubarb is a flowering species of the Gunnera plant native to Southern Chile. It is an ornamental plant in its origins but considered an invasive species in some parts of Europe and the US. Its prominently veined leaves are large, deeply lobed, and thorny sit on top of short prickly rhizome stems. At maturity, its leaves are 3 inches wide, and it reaches a height of 6 feet. It thrives well in moist organically rich soil and is a great architectural plant. It blooms in the summer to produce small dull-red flowers followed by tiny round orange fruits. It is an aquatic herbaceous plant and looks best when grown close to a pond or in a bog garden.

Gunnera Magellanica

Gunnera magellanica is a creeping species of the gunnera plant also called Devil’s strawberry. Unlike the large gunnera plants, gunnera magellanica creates a dense ground cover with its round to kidney-shaped glossy leaves. Its leaves are only about 3 inches wide, and they grow to a height of 8 inches tall and spreads quickly creeping over moist soil. The leaves wither during winter but begin springing out from March. By summer it begins to produce unnoticeable tiny green flowers followed by small round orange fruits. 

Gunnera Perpensa

Gunnera perpensa is the only member of the gunnera family that has been recorded to originate from Africa. It grows close to water, at creeks banks, ponds and small lakes because its roots need to be embedded in the moist soil that is found on the banks of water bodies. Its hairy leaves are a shade of dark blue and green, large and kidney shaped. It blooms tiny pink and reddish-brown flowers on a long spike that extends above its leaves between September and February. It is one of the few gunnera plants that have known medical uses.

Where to buy Gunnera for sale in the UK

If you are looking for UK suppliers for Gunnera plants for sale, have a look at our list below of suppliers in the UK that currently have stock of Gunnera plants available to buy right now. Get these guys in the ground ASAP and get them well watered!

Growing and Caring For Gunnera

Gunnera plant growing conditions are not complicated but rather very simple. It is a perennial hardy plant so it can do well on its own. The most important point to note when growing any gunnera plant is to take note of their soil and water requirements. 

The best planting spot for gunnera plants is a low ground with rich organic soil that is close to the water and gets full sunlight. Gunnera plants love moisture so planting it close to a water body where it will be constantly saturated is a great idea.

Gunnera is a heavy feeder so remember to have a steady supply of compost, organic matter, and sometimes fertiliser.

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