Boy variegated plants must be in. My last perennial post, I wrote about the 2013 Perennial Plant of the Year™ winner, the Variegated Solomon’s Seal. This time it’s 2012’s winner Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ P.P.# 13859.
Jack Frost Brunnera or Jack Frost Siberian Bugloss
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ P.P.# 13859
Pronounced BROO-ner-uh mak-roh-FIL-uh
Click below to hear me try to say it
Hardiness zones: 3 – 8
Size: Grows 12” tall with flower stems that reach 18 inches. They will slowly spread to reach a 20” clump.
Soil: They prefer moist well drained soil. They grow fastest in rich soils. If your soil is on the dry side they will need regular watering. The more sun they receive the more water they will need.
Light: They prefer full shade in the south. They can handle some morning sun in cooler northern areas as long as the soil is kept moist. They will not handle afternoon sun well anywhere. Brunnera is a classic shade plant.
Flowers: In later spring, small forget-me-not star like flowers rise 6 inches above the foliage. They bloom for several weeks.
Fruit: No significant. They do set seed and will spread seedlings a bit. They will usually be the good old green leaf type.
Fall Color: It keeps it’s cool leaf color from spring until fall.
Jack Frost Brunnera another variegated plant
Variegated plants are not usually seen in nature. Therefore they can be eye catching. They can also tricky to use in a garden that is trying to recreate the feeling of nature. Therefore, if you liked the idea of creating a nature inspired garden as I discussed in my last post, you may wish to pass on this plant. At the very least, you should limit its use.
On the other hand, if you have a garden that is in deep shade and you are struggling to find plants other than hosta or ferns, Jack Frost Brunnera may be one to add. It is unique and very attractive.
I like it but my yard is overfilled with variegated plants. These include the Solomon’s Seal, Tri-color beech, Japanese painted fern, ghost fern, ‘Ivory Halo’ Red Twig Dogwood, as well as variegated deadnettles, vinca minor, and of course hosta. I don’t even have that much shade either!
Variegated plant uses
Variegated plants are wonderful for the shade garden as the lighter portion of their leaves standout in the dark. They are also good plants for viewing at night. The green portion of the leaf will disappear in low light but the white portion will be seen.
Lots of variegated plants will burn in summer full sun. Brunnera don’t like sun, so variegated ones are really not going to like it. This is a plant for the shade garden. If that does not describe your garden you may want to pass on this one.
Jack Frost Brunnera would be best used as an accent plant in small groupings in the shade garden. You could plant them with larger leaf variegated hosta, purple leaf heuchera and variegated Japanese painted fern to match the color but provide a texture contrast with its smaller leaves. You could perhaps also include some fine textured white corydalis such as Corydalis ochroleuca.
Another option would be to plant a few of them scattered about with regular green Brunnera. Let them seed and slowly fill in the area. The seedlings will be green leaved, the Jack Frost Brunnera you plant will be accent plants. Eventually they will form a deciduous ground cover with the variegated ones providing splashes of interest.
Brunnera do not require a lot of care other than watering. If you get a green leaf from your plant, you should cut it out. If the clump dies out in the center, you should divide them. Free plants!
Deer avoid them by all accounts thanks to their hairy leaves.
My verdict: If you have moist shade, Jack Frost Brunnera is a great accent plant. If you have a shady afternoon spot, it could also work. A mass planting would look great when in flower, but may be a bit unnatural looking the rest of the season. Groupings of three or five may be a nice compromise with a nice flower effect but not overwhelm the scene with variegated leaves during the rest of the season.
Whoberry Thelma says
Thanks for the article! I purchased one in spring and kept in pot all summer. Added a fountain to a shade garden and will plant my Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ beside a large variegated hosta. Plan to mulch and baby this winter and wait to see if it returns in spring
Sheila Sonka says
I bought one of these plants this spring and it was pretty until it went to seed. Should I remove those seedy looking stalks? Will it provide blooms only once in the spring?
Yes one bloom. I would remove them after flowering to tidy the plant up.
Lyn at The Amateur Weeder says
I grew this plant for the first time this winter, in a pot, and I’ve been really pleased with it. The pot was in almost full shade and it didn’t seem to mind drying out a bit. Have to see if it makes it through the summer. If it does, I’ll try one or two in a very shady garden bed. I loved the contrast of the flowers against the leaves, and it flowered for a long time.
I am glad to hear it may tolerate dry soil a bit, that would certainly increase its odds in my yard.
Elma Mercer says
This is the first year for Jack Frost in my garden. It is in a very dark corner under redwood trees, next to ferns, ajuga, etc. It just lights up that corner so your eye is drawn to a beautiful place in the garden that might otherwise be lost. Jack Frost grows in the shadiest part of my garden and it’s color makes it a highlight in the shadows. I grew three to see how they would do and I’m buying more. Here it was only dormant about a month. Highly recommended. This perennial plant was discovered at Walters Gardens in Zeeland, Michigan USA and recently won First Prize at Plantarium in Holland for Best New Perennial of the Year. It was originally spotted in a flat (tray) of Brunnera m. ‘Langtrees’ and has large heart-shaped leaves with the veins highlighted in silver making this sport very distinct. Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ makes a clump 18 inches wide of rounded frosty looking silver leaves and is topped with tiny clusters of clear blue flowers in early spring and prefers moist, rich soils to grow the best plants.