Epimedium ‘Black Sea’

hybrid epimedium

Outstanding Qualities

This iron-clad perennial is handsome and easy to grow. From late winter to early spring Epimedium 'Black Sea' produces a profusion of small, delicate-looking flowers dancing on the tips of thread-thin red stalks. The inner petals are primrose yellow and shaped onto nectar-producing sacs, the outer, paler sepals are washed with orange-red. New leaves soon follow the dainty blooms and mature to attractive blue-green. The most remarkable feature of the foliage is the inky purple-black coloring that 'bleeds' into each leaf with the onset of cooler temperatures and frost. This deep coloring lasts until the new leaves emerge next spring. Plant it with pale-colored hellebores to accentuate the unusual winter foliage. This cultivar was once called Epimedium pinnatum subsp. colchicum 'Black Sea' but recent evidence indicates that it is a hybrid.

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: black, silver, gold

Great Color Partners: dark green, variegated, chartreuse

Culture Notes

This tough groundcover tolerates a wide range of soil conditions from sand to clay and moist to well-drained. It thrives and produces its best flowers in light to dappled shade. It will tolerate drought well, but if the soil conditions are poor it is best to provide some occasional water during the driest periods of summer. Cut the leaves to the ground in late January or early February to allow the new flowers to take center stage.

© Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Quick Facts

Plant Type: perennial

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 1 ft. 4 in. (0.40 m.)

Plant Width/Spread: 6 ft. 0 in. (1.83 m.)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Flower Color: pink

Sun/Light Exposure: light to dappled shade

Water Requirements: occasional watering during the driest periods of summer