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Talkback: Growing gunnera

The Bristol botanic Garden has several species of gunnera, not all big. One is small enough to go in a small garden. They are very prickly to weed under but I like them best in the spring when they just emerge from there winter sleep. There stems are red as rhubarb and the emerging furled umbrellas are a loely light green. I wrote a poem once about a mouse family I found under a gunnera plant. I'll see if I can find it.


  • Found it!

    Under the gunnera sat a wee mouse.
    "Right here," she sighed,"is the place for my house."
    No gardener likes those dreadful, sharp prickles,
    But we thick-skinned mice think they just tickle.

    So she scavenged around in the Garden's wet bog
    For spagnum and twigs from a decaying log.
    She made a fine nest from all of her treen
    And when she gave birth, her brood was thirteen.
  • The Gunnera Umbrella.

    Under the gunnera sat a wee mouse;
    Good, she decided, fine site for her house;
    It would keep her nest quite cosy and dry,
    Hygienic and private for expected small fry.
    No one is willing to weed those huge leaves;
    Those spiky prickles do need thorn-proof sleeves.

    She gathered some leaves and scraps of old labels,
    Also some twiglets to make it more stable,
    Ignoring the gunnera, scuttling around,
    Its prickles avoided, when once they were found.
    Thirteen blind babies arrived the next day.
    Mice seem to thrive and evolve well that way.

    Those babies grew quickly to venturesome teens;
    They soon found the Garden had fine peas and beans;
    They deserted their home for lush pulses and grain;
    But ran back at once when it started to rain.
    A message for folk who are feeling neglected -
    If recession hits hard you will soon be respected.

    This was written when recession hit and young people who had left home began returning to the family nest when their finances took a hit. It's a longer version of the first one.
  • can you tell me is there any gunnera that can withstand frost and does it have to have its feet wet all the time
  • Hi i have noticed on a Fuschia in my greenhouse orange powder residue on the underside of it's leaves, does anyone know what it is or how to treat it?? i am a novice gardener and need advice please? thanks connie
  • I work in a nursery specialising in architectural plants and we sell Gunnera manicata - it is simply stunning when planted and happy and a miracle that from that bristly crown those huge leaves emerge forming a magnificent canopy. I say to anyone who is nervous about planting one - be bold, be brave and go for it and with James' sound advice, your plant should survive the cold and become more magnificent year on year....they are fabulous!
  • It doesn't have to constantly have it's feet wet but lashings of water would be needed in the summer months. If it does not have its feet wet constantly then you will not receive maximum growth from it in the growing season. But you will need plenty of room in the garden, height and width wise. These are HUGE plants. More so if grown in a boggy area.
  • Peat BPeat B Posts: 441

    The BIGGEST gunnera to be found used to be down Cot Valley, St. Just,W. Cornwall. In it's wisdom, the council, or National Trust, has recently dug it up, with JCB's to reclaim the land to as it was before gunnera. A shame in one way, but there we are. They were there as a fixture for more than 50 years ! But then, it is a ginormous plant, thrives in the right conditions, and like the infamous knotweed, can be unstoppably invasive if left to it's own devices.  

  • Jo 6Jo 6 Posts: 3
    I have two Gunnera Tinctoria in the garden one grows right next to the house in a space about 3 feet sq. it's not damp there and I still get large leaves on stalks 4-5 feet long. In the winter I cover the crown with a couple of the leaves and they survive just fine.
  • pansy2pansy2 Posts: 28

    Can they be grown from seed?  If yes when and how please.

  • Jo 6Jo 6 Posts: 3
    Just checked - Chiltern seeds sell Gunnera Tinctoria ( and Gunnera Manicata) seeds in this year's catalogue. I have only bought small plants and grown them on.
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