Prunella incisa ‘Rubra’
MAGENTA HEAL ALL
Prunella incisa ‘Rubra’ is a hardy, robust yet non-invasive ground-cover, with pretty flowers as a bonus.
So it has always been a firm favourite with practical, down to earth gardeners.
Colourful & long blooming
It makes a procession of deep rich magenta flower spikes, with plump heads of hooded flowers clustered on 15cm. stems.
So there is always a splash of colour, because they bloom from mid spring through summer and autumn, .
Fortunately the flowers are really quite large and eye-catching, despite it being a low growing ground-cover.
Weed suppressing ground-cover
The tight, closely knit growth is useful for suppressing weeds, so Prunella’s popularity is guaranteed with low maintenance gardeners.
Easy care gardeners also love it because it is always so willing to thrive, even in less than ideal conditions.
Self Heal for roses
Prunella is valued as a companion plant for roses, to help cut down the incidence of “Black Spot” disease.
Especially for organically managed rose gardens, or where you wish to avoid the use of chemicals.
You may have noticed that “Black Spot” always starts on the bottom leaves and works its way up the rose.
This is because “Black Spot” are soil borne spores which transfer to the rose by particles of soil splashing up with rain or watering.
So by planting dense Prunella around and under the roses, you are cutting the chain of infection, and cutting the need for chemical use.
Some traditional rosarians also swear by Prunella’s ancient use as a disinfectant, to help cleanse the surface of the soil.
An ancient disinfectant
Prunella has always been valued in herbal medicine, primarily as a disinfectant.
So two thousand years ago, Dioscorides the ancient physician, was using Prunella to cure inflammation of the throat and tonsils.
Then one thousand years ago it became a popular salad ingredient to help combat diabetes.
Brunella became Prunella
By five hundred years ago in Germany, Prunella was the sovereign remedy for horrible necrotic gum ulcers.
The ulcers were called “die Breuen” or “Brunella”, and this is probably how the name Prunella evolved, as “Brunella” became Prunella.
Chinese medicine still uses Prunella frequently today; and modern western chemical research is showing promise in treatments against diabetic, heart and cancer diseases.
So maybe those old rose gardeners are right, that “Self Heal for Roses” does help disinfect the soil.
Growing; Prunella incisa ‘Rubra’
– Height with flowers: 15cm. approx.
– Width: Rhizomes spread to make a dense carpet to approx. 50cm. diameter. It is not invasive.
– Position: Grows enthusiastically in Full Sun to Half Shade / Dappled Sunlight positions. Suits a wide range of conditions including seaside gardens.
– Soil: Prunella is tough and willing. It will make make a go of it in a wide range of soils, from sandy, through ordinary average garden loam, to clay soils. A willing grower in clay. Easily tolerates soils that have a high lime content, but will also grow easily in acid conditions. Drought tolerant when established, and will thrive on normal, average watering. Enjoys being well drained.
– Frost: Toughly, totally frost hardy down to well below -10C. Suitable for severe frost areas.
Easy care Perennial
– Growth: Evergreen ground cover perennial. The stems grow thickly but flat on the ground, and so help to prevent both weed growth, and “black spot splash” from infecting rose leaves.
– Care: Very easy to grow and low maintenance. You could remove spent flower stems if you wish to tidy, but it is not necessary. You can even mow over it if you wish. This is such an un-fussy plant.
– Beneficial for wildlife: The flowers are rich in both pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies. And the procession of flowers give them a reliable food source.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: Prunella is not top of their menu chart, though not completely immune to nibbling if the pests are really hungry.
– Origin: Native to meadows and woodlands in Europe where it successfully competes with the grasses.
– History & traditional uses: Prunella has a long history as both a medicinal herb and a culinary herb. It was highly prized in the past for anti-inflammatory qualities.
In traditional village medicine it was used to treat anything from throat inflammations to packing infected wounds. It was a culinary herb used either raw or cooked. Dried leaves were added to soups, salads or stews.