Whether it’s perennial or biennial, Lunaria is an ornamental plant for both garden and inside the house! Indeed, its fruit and seed pods make for lovely dry bouquets.
Lunaria key facts:
Latin name: Lunaria sp.
Common name: honesty
Family: Cruciferae, Brassicaceae
Type: biennial or perennial
Height: 1.6 to 3.3 feet (50 cm to 1 m)
Planting density: 29 to 39 plants per 10 sq ft (3 to 4 plants per m2)
Exposure: sunny to semi-shaded
Soil: light, any pH, moist, well-drained
Blooming: spring, summer – Fruiting: fall – foliage: deciduous
Get to know Lunaria
The botanical genus Lunaria includes both biennial and perennial plants. Both types are mainly known and grown for their fruits (or seed pods) which are round, flat, and have a silver, pearly colored lining.
Lunaria flowers present a tufted silhouette that can reach 1½ to 3 feet depending on the species (50 cm to 1 m). Leaves, light to dark green, have a more or less pronounced heart-shaped silhouette with finely toothed contours.
Flowers appear at the end of spring, at the tips of long flower stalks. Their color varies from white to violet depending on the plant.
The most common species in shops and gardens are L. annua and L. rediviva.
Lunaria annua (syn.: L. biennis)
More commonly known as silver dollar, money plant or honesty, this fast-growing biennial species bears dark purple to white flowers in spring and early summer. The plant reaches an average of 2.5 feet in height, and 1 foot in width (75 cm by 30 cm).
Note that there is a cultivar ‘Variegata’ which has a stunning white edging along the rims of its leaves.
In contrast to its cousin, L. rediviva is a perennial that sprouts back every year. It measures about 2 to 2.5 feet tall and 1 foot across (60 to 75 cm by 30 cm).
Leaves are medium green, which can turn brown. Flowers, on the other hand, have a color range between white and lilac.
Lunaria isn’t a fan of heavy soils. So, generally, you should steer clear of clay-based terrain. Other than that, this plant can pretty much adapt to any type of soil, as long as it’s sufficiently drained.
Regarding exposure, even though Lunaria can put up with partial shade, it prefers a sunny spot. Depending on the species you choose, the planting method will vary, as we’ll see below.
Planting biennial honesty (Lunaria annua)
- In mid-spring (May-June), prepare a batch of seedlings in a seed tray. Place it on a windowsill or in a nursery afterwards.
- When the seedlings get a few inches tall, select the more vigorous ones and transplant them into pots. Keep your plants always sheltered from wind and from hot, direct sun.
- In late summer (August-September), you can transplant your Lunaria plants into the open ground. They will bloom in the following spring.
→ Dig into details? Look here!
For perennial species (Lunaria rediviva)
- Dig a hole about 4 to 8 inches deep (10 to 20 cm).
- Work in some sand and a bit of potting soil to improve drainage and soil fertility.
- Take the pot off the root ball and break up the base a bit to make regrowth easier.
- Settle the plant into the hole and fill it in, firming the soil around it.
When it comes to planting density, plan on 3 to 4 plants to cover 10.76 square feet (1 m2). Don’t crowd them; air should be able to circulate between each plant.
A smart tip: To complete the planting, spread a thick layer of natural mulch around your Lunaria. Even though they require well-drained soil, they don’t mind having cool roots.
Caring for your Lunaria
Caring for Lunaria boils down to keeping an eye on watering, particularly during dry spells. Wilting leaves are your cue to step in. For pruning, aim for late fall, cutting back the clump at the base.
Lunaria naturally reseeds with gusto. To spread the plant, you just need to transplant young ones wherever you fancy. Feel like harvesting seeds for your own sowing? Go for it! For perennial species, you can also divide the clump in spring.
Diseases and pests
While insects aren’t big bad wolves here, Lunaria does have a weak spot when it faces powdery mildew. Be proactive during planting by giving plants enough space. In the unfortunate event that disease breaks out, discard infected leaves promptly.
Uses and beautiful flowers to pair it with
Lunaria are dream choices as flower bed fillers and for designing mixed-border layouts. Their unique coin-like fruit pods make them a darling for dry bouquets. To prepare, harvest stalks with yellowing seed pods. Sun-dry them for a few days, then gently rub each one between your thumb and forefinger to remove the outer shell. It’ll reveal the treasured pearl-like interior.
For pairing your Lunaria, play with harmony. Opt for plants with similar leaves or flowers, like Leopard’s Bane or tall garden Phlox. Or create a stunning contrast with Coreopsis (verticillata or grandiflora). Other perennials, like smartweed, santolina, or bellflower, can add variety to your garden.