Plant Encyclopedia

'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera

Brunnera macrophylla

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'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera

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The 'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera, or Brunnera macrophylla, is a striking perennial that boasts a unique charm and versatility in shade gardens. This variety stands out with its massive, heart-shaped leaves that can reach 9-10 inches in width, featuring a dramatic overlap at the base that gives them a nearly circular appearance from afar. The foliage presents a stunning visual with a heavy silver overlay and a distinctive pattern of vivid, wide, dark green veining, making it a focal point in any garden setting.

In addition to its eye-catching foliage, the 'Jack of Diamonds' produces delicate, baby blue, forget-me-not type blossoms that add a splash of color in mid to late spring. These charming flowers not only enhance the plant's aesthetic appeal but also attract beneficial pollinators like bees, while the plant itself is known to resist deer, making it an excellent choice for a wildlife-friendly garden.

Thriving in part shade to full shade, this Brunnera variety is suited for a range of garden applications, from borders and mass plantings to containers and specimen or focal points. It requires average to fertile soil with a neutral to alkaline pH and benefits from consistent moisture and winter mulch in colder regions. With easy maintenance and a robust demeanor, the 'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera is hardy in zones 3 through 8, ensuring it can be a perennial favorite in many gardens across a wide swath of climates. Its low, mounded habit, reaching heights of 14-16 inches and spreading 28-32 inches, makes it an ideal choice for gardeners looking for a ground cover or an accent plant that brings texture and color to shaded areas.

Plant Attributes

The 'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera, with its impressive attributes, is an enchanting addition to any shade garden. This perennial plant is celebrated for its substantial, heart-shaped leaves that create a lush, textured backdrop in garden designs. Each leaf showcases a stunning silver overlay on a dark green canvas, marked by distinct veining that adds depth and interest. The leaves overlap at their bases, appearing almost circular from a distance, which adds to the plant's visual appeal and makes it a standout feature in the garden.

Spring brings a further layer of beauty to the 'Jack of Diamonds' with its bloom of baby blue flowers. These blossoms resemble those of the forget-me-not, offering a delicate contrast to the bold foliage beneath. Flowering in mid to late spring, these blooms not only enrich the garden's color palette but also attract bees, adding a dynamic element of wildlife interaction to the space.

Landscape Use

The 'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla) is highly valued for its versatility and stunning appearance, making it a splendid choice for various landscaping uses. Its unique attributes allow it to serve multiple roles in the garden, from creating lush underplantings to acting as a standout specimen in shaded areas. Here are some of the key landscaping uses for this plant:

  • Shade Gardens: Ideal for shaded areas where few plants can thrive, its large, silver-veined leaves brighten up dark corners and bring life to under-canopy spaces.
  • Woodland Settings: Perfect for woodland gardens, it complements naturalistic plantings and adds texture and color beneath tree canopies.
  • Border Plantings: The 'Jack of Diamonds' can be used to edge garden paths or define garden beds, where its foliage and flowers will create a soft, yet striking boundary.
  • Container Gardening: Suitable for containers, where its dramatic foliage can be appreciated up close. It works well in mixed containers as a foliage backdrop or as a solo specimen for a simple, elegant look.
  • Mass Planting: When planted in mass, it creates a visually impactful ground cover that highlights its beautiful foliage and springtime blooms across larger areas.
  • Specimen or Focal Point: Thanks to its unique foliage and flowers, it serves as an excellent focal point in garden designs, drawing the eye and adding interest to the landscape.
  • Underplanting for Trees and Shrubs: Its tolerance for shade makes it an excellent underplanting companion for trees and shrubs, filling in the space beneath them with lush, textured foliage.
  • Cut Flower Gardens: The delicate baby blue flowers are lovely in spring bouquets, adding a touch of whimsy and color to fresh floral arrangements.
  • Pollinator Gardens: Attracts bees and other pollinators, making it a valuable addition to gardens designed to support wildlife.
  • Deer-Resistant Plantings: An excellent choice for areas prone to deer browsing, as it is known to resist deer, ensuring your garden remains beautiful and untouched.

Incorporating 'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera into your garden not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also supports biodiversity, creating a garden space that is both beautiful and beneficial to the environment.

Planting & Care

Planting and caring for the 'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera (Brunnera macrophylla) is straightforward, making it a rewarding plant for gardeners of all skill levels. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your Brunnera thrives and brings beauty to your garden for years to come.

Planting Instructions:

  • Timing: Plant in early spring or fall when the weather is cool. This timing helps the plant establish without the stress of high heat.
  • Location: Choose a location that receives part shade to full shade. Morning sun is acceptable, especially in cooler climates, but avoid intense afternoon sun to prevent leaf scorch.
  • Soil: Plant in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Brunnera prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil pH but is quite adaptable.
  • Spacing: Space plants approximately 28-32 inches apart to allow for their mature spread.
  • Planting: Dig a hole as deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Gently remove the plant from its pot, loosen the roots slightly, and place it in the hole so that the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Backfill with soil, pressing down gently to eliminate air pockets, and water thoroughly.

Care Instructions:

  • Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system. Once established, Brunnera can tolerate occasional dry spells, but consistent moisture is ideal, especially in hotter regions.
  • Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant to help retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and reduce weed competition.
  • Fertilizing: Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring to support healthy growth. Alternatively, enriching the soil with compost annually can provide sufficient nutrients.
  • Pruning: Deadhead spent flowers to encourage a tidy appearance, though Brunnera is not known for reblooming. Trim back any damaged or dead foliage as needed.
  • Winter Care: In colder zones, apply a protective layer of mulch in late fall to protect the roots through the winter. Brunnera is hardy and will typically die back to the ground in winter, returning in spring.
  • Pests/Diseases: Brunnera is relatively pest-free but watch for slugs and snails, especially in moist, shady areas. Fungal diseases can be avoided by ensuring good air circulation around the plants and avoiding overhead watering.

Additional Tips:

  • Division: Mature plants can be divided in early spring or fall every few years to maintain vigor and to propagate new plants.
  • Location Change: If your Brunnera is not thriving, consider its location. Too much sun can lead to leaf burn, while overly wet conditions can cause root rot. Adjusting its placement may improve its health.

By providing the right environment and a little care, your 'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera will be a stunning addition to the shaded parts of your garden, offering lush foliage and charming blooms with minimal effort.

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'Jack of Diamonds' Heartleaf Brunnera


Plant Features

  • Plant Type: Perennial
  • Watering Needs: Average water; consistent moisture is beneficial, with more required in extreme heat or containers.
  • Botanical Pronunciation: BRU-nair-uh mak-roh-FIL-uh
  • Deciduous/evergreen: Herbaceous
  • Growth rate: Moderate
  • Average landscape size: Grows to 14-16” tall and 28-32” wide at maturity.
  • Special features: Border Plant, Container, Cut Flower, Mass Planting, Specimen or Focal Point, Attracts Bees, Deer Resistant
  • Dramatic Foliage: Large, heart-shaped leaves with silver overlay and dark green veining
  • Foliage color: Silver and Dark Green
  • Blooms: Mid to Late Spring
  • Flower color: Baby Blue
  • Flower attributes: Forget-me-not type blossoms, Attracts Pollinators
  • Garden style: Cottage, Woodland, Shade Garden
  • Design Ideas: Ideal for underplanting in woodland gardens, adding texture and color to shaded borders, or as a focal point in container arrangements. Its large, dramatic leaves can be used to contrast with finer-textured plants in mixed borders. Perfect for creating a serene, shaded retreat or for adding interest to moist, shady areas where other plants might struggle.
  • Companion Plants: Hostas, Ferns, Hellebores, Astilbes, and shade-tolerant bulbs such as Daffodils and Snowdrops.

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