How to Grow Pulmonaria
From the Latin pulmo, lung; derivation uncertain; either because the spotted leaves bore a resemblance to diseased lungs, or because one species was regarded as providing a remedy for diseased lungs (Boraginaceae). Lungwort. This is a genus of 10 species of hardy herbaceous perennials, natives of Europe. P. angustifolia, a rare native, is an excellent garden plant. The charm of these early-flowering lungworts is, in their flowers, which change from red to blue—they also have the name soldiers-and sailors on this account—and in their hairy leaves which, in some species, are spotted with a much paler green or with white. The spotted leaves suggested to some herbalists the human lung, and it was thus in accordance with the ‘doctrine of signatures’ that the plant was used to dose unfortunate sufferers from lung complaints.
Species cultivated P. angustifolia, blue cowslip, to 1 foot, leaves lacking spots, flowers pink, changing to blue, spring, Europe including Britain; vars. alba, white; `Mawson’s Variety’ is a selected garden form. P. officinalis, Jerusalem cowslip, spotted dog, to 1 foot, leaves spotted white, flowers pink then violet, spring, Europe. P. rubra, 1 foot, leaves usually lacking spots, flowers brick red, Transylvania. P. saccharata, to 1 foot, leaves blotched white, flowers pink, April to July, Europe.
Cultivation Any soil is suitable and the plants will grow in sun or shade. Quite the best companions for lungworts are other early spring flowering plants including bulbs, primroses and so on, interspersed with native ferns. Plant in autumn or spring and lift and divide the plants every four to five years. Propagation is by seed sown in a shady border out of doors in March or April or by division of the roots in spring or autumn.