lady’s mantle (Alchemilla)
No matter in which garden one looks, in a majority of them one finds a type from the type of the lady’s mantle (Alchemilla). Above all the soft lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis) is a popular ground-cover, since it can form dense continuances fast and blooms very long. The perennial has not only pretty, deciduous foliage, but with its yellow-green flower colour is also a good combination partner for many other perennials in the bed. The genus belongs to the Rosaceae family and comprises about 1000 species, some of which are confusingly similar. They all have round to kidney-shaped leaves with light hairs and small, yellow-green individual flowers that stand in small clusters on the shoots. Therefore, when describing a species, it is often pointed out that it differs from the best known species of lady’s mantle – the soft lady’s mantle.
In nature, perennial species can be found on highland meadows and glades in Asia and Europe. Several species often form dense populations at their natural habitats. Presumably there are so many species today because of bastardization. But only a few of them are used in our gardens. In addition to the popular soft lady’s mantle, these include the delicate lady’s mantle (Alchemilla epipsila), the small lady’s mantle (Alchemilla erythropoda), the felt lady’s mantle (Alchemilla glaucescens) and the silver lady’s mantle (Alchemilla hoppeana). Another popular medicinal plant is the common lady’s mantle (Alchemilla xanthochlora), which has been used since the Middle Ages as an antispasmodic and analgesic agent against typical women’s ailments and also against gastrointestinal complaints due to its digestive properties.
All lady’s mantle species belong to the low-growing herbaceous perennials. The highest is the common lady’s mantle with growth heights between 45 and 60 centimeters, while the silver lady’s coat is only between 10 and 15 centimeters high. Most women’s coats make only minor demands on their location. Depending on the species, they thrive in the sun as well as in semi-shade and some even in shady places. Although they prefer a nutrient-rich, permeable soil, they also tolerate heavy clay soils. The Felt Lady’s Mantle thrives above all in dry, lean locations, the Decorative Lady’s Mantle can also cope in fresh to moist places in the garden, for example in the living area of the edge of a grove. On the other hand, species such as the small, the felt and the silver lady’s mantle feel particularly at home in the areas of rockery and rock steppe.
Frauenmantel is not only a popular groundcover. The yellowish-green flower colour also makes the lady’s mantle a good combination partner for a large number of perennials of all colours and shapes that have the same location requirements. The fresh green looks particularly beautiful, for example, when combined with violet-flowering species such as cranesbill (Geranium) or ornamental garlic (Allium). With their low growth, however, the Frauenmantel species can also be planted very well with bed borders. Silver Lady’s Coat and Small Lady’s Coat are also very suitable for sunny rock gardens. The latter is also suitable for planting pots and tubs.
A pruning close to the ground after flowering prevents self sowing and stimulates fresh sprouting.
The easiest way to multiply lady’s mantle is by division. In this way, aged plants are rejuvenated at the same time, because over time the individual perennials can develop into mighty specimens and become bald from the inside. The best way to divide the plant is with a spade. The best period for this is early spring, before the perennial sprouts again.
Further care tips
The soft lady’s mantle tends to sow itself strongly and can get out of hand over time in the bed. This can be contained by regular plucking of the young plants and pruning close to the ground immediately after flowering.
The best way to multiply a lady’s mantle is by dividing it or sowing it.
Diseases and pests
The species of female mantle are very robust. There are no known particular susceptibilities to plant diseases and pests.