Meadow Rue Guide: Types of Meadow Rue Flowers, How To Grow, Care Tips

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | March 28, 2024

Woman examines a meadow rue flower after learning how to plant meadow rue, how to identify types of meadow rue flowers, and their growing zones, as well as care tips.

Growing Meadow Rue in your backyard garden is an excellent way to increase the health of your other plants. Although the delicately long clustered flowerheads sway in the wind, catching the eye and creating a calming effect, they are also very attractive to pollinators.

Get ready to have swarms of various types of bees and stunning types of butterflies frequenting all your plants.

You would think that you would spend a lot of time maintaining and caring for this delicate plant, but far from it, the Meadow Rue is one of the least demanding.

This Meadow Rue guide explains everything you need to know about cultivating this beautiful flower in your garden, as well as how to identify various types and ensure they thrive.

Meadow Rue

(Thalictrum spp)

Meadow Rue image in an oval frame on a green background.
  • Family: Ranunculaceae
  • Genus: Thalictrum
  • Leaf: Blue-green in color, bipinnately compound, arranged in an alternate pattern
  • Seed: Several tiny, lightweight, black seeds
  • Blossoms: Tiny, apetalous (lacking petals), several elongated stamens, in colors pink, white, yellow, or purple
  • Native habitat: Northern temperate regions
  • Height: 1-8 feet tall
  • Canopy: 1-5 feet wide
  • Type: Perennial
  • Native growing zone: USDA zones 3-7

Image Credit: Annette Meyer (Nennieinszweidrei)10

5 Common Types of Meadow Rue

Gardeners tend to picture the Meadow Rue flowers when selecting the type to plant because the options can be too overwhelming.

If you are looking for more inspiration before choosing, here are a few most popular ones and their features.

Top shot of a Meadow Rue plant showcasing green foliage and tiny star-shaped white and yellow flowers, with fallen dried leaves on the ground.

(Image: Craig Martin11)

1. Early Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dioicum)

Although this Meadow Rue doesn’t grow extremely tall, at only 8-30 inches, it certainly makes up for it with its beautiful white-green flowers.3 It is hardy when growing in planting zones 3-7.

2. Lavender Mist (Thalictrum rochebrunianum)

This cultivar, which is native to Japan, is famous for how it reaches astonishing heights of 6-8 feet. Expect so many lavender flowers with yellow stamens with this one.

3. Yellow Meadow Rue (Thalictrum flavum)

This is a popular cultivar native to the Mediterranean and Europe, reaching around 3 feet high. From its original home, you can tell that it loves the sun, growing in hardiness zones 5-8.

A tall Meadow Rue plant with a cluster of pale yellow flowers at the tip of a stem, situated near a body of water surrounded by blades of green grass.

(Image: Юрий Носков12)

4. Chinese Meadow Rue (Thalictrum delavayi)

This one is for you if you love lilac flowers. It is delicate with smooth leaves and reaches around 5 feet high, with the ‘Hewitt’s double’ being the most popular cultivar.

Top shot of White Meadow Rue flowers surrounded by green leaves in the woods.

(Image: Gabriel Mayrhofer13)

5. Black Stockings Meadow Rue/Columbine Leaves (Thalictrum aquilegiafolium)

The Columbine Meadow Rue obtains its name from the fact that its leaves look just like that of the columbine or genus Aquilegia.6 It reaches 2-3 feet high and is one of the types of white flowers perennial, although there is a ‘Black stocking’ cultivar with bluish flowers.

Growing a Meadow Rue From a Seed, Cutting, or Seedling

You will soon realize that the Meadow Rue doesn’t really like being moved, so you would rather plant from a seed or, if not, take cuttings when the plant is already established.

Here is how to reproduce a new Meadow Rue.

From Meadow Rue Seeds

Although seed planting is pretty easy with the Meadow Rue, the problem is that they take quite some time to germinate. But if you are patient and have a green thumb, just collect the dark seeds from the flower heads and sow in shallow holes.

Note that they will likely take as much as a year to germinate and 2–3 more to start producing flowers.

From Meadow Rue Cutting

The ideal way to go when it comes to planting the Meadow Rue is by division or by taking root cuttings. After five years, when you are certain that the plant is well-established, you can dig up the root clump, clean it up, and divide it into sections of healthy clumps with crowns peeking out.

Next, find a suitable outdoor spot and plant each cutting,7 caring for them until they start regrowing.

From Meadow Rue Seedlings

The Meadow Rue perennial is not really a potted plant, no thanks to its unpredictable shape and huge size. So, you may have to start with seeds first; if you are lucky, you may find seedlings being sold.

It will be more convenient than starting from seeds, and you can simply dig a hole that accommodates twice the size of the root ball, place the seedling, and backfill the hole, watering and caring for it until it matures.

Best Growing Conditions for Meadow Rue

You are about to find out how the Meadow Rue is effortless to plant, how low maintenance it is, and how it takes very little of your effort to grow.


Although it is one of the most crucial requirements for plants, the watering needs for Meadow Rue plants are not that strict.

An inch of watering per week will do just fine as long as the soil never gets too soggy; sitting in a pool of water for a long time could lead to pests and diseases.


Each species has its own specifications when it comes to how much sunlight does Meadow Rue need each day.

A close up of a Meadow Rue plant showcasing cluster of tiny white flowers.

(Image: Mohan Nannapaneni (MOHANN)14)

But in most cases, yours will need full or partial sunlight, so it is best to check its needs before planting, lest the parts wither or the plant becomes too leggy.


Most, if not all, Meadow Rue love it when the soil is rich and has a pH of between 5-8.2 It all depends on the cultivar in question, but make sure that you add a slow-release fertilizer if the soil is poor.

Meadow Rue Plant Planting and Care Tips

One of the most captivating aspects about being a Meadow Rue gardener, apart from owning stunning plants, is that they need very little care.

Here are additional planting tips for Meadow Rue to help you get the most out of them.

How and When To Plant Meadow Rue

Are you not sure how far apart to plant Meadow Rue? You can leave a 12-inch space if dealing with one of the tiny cultivars, and as for the massive ones, you will need at least 4-6 feet of space between each planting.

Again, it is best to learn the type you are planting, its size, height, and other needs before you get started. As for when to plant Meadow Rue for the best yield,8 you will never go wrong with planting in spring, which will give the roots the entire growing season to grow.

Meadow Rue Growing Zone

What are the ideal growing zones for Meadow Rue (where to grow it most comfortably)? Considering there are so many members of the Thalictrum genus, it may be tasking to pinpoint the exact planting zone.

But in general, most prefer USDA zones 3-7, so again, it depends on the cultivar that you go for.

Meadow Rue Growth Rate

If you check how long it takes to grow Meadow Rue, you notice that it loves to take its time. Based on the species in question, you will likely have to wait for as long as three years, that is until your plant reaches maturity.

Pruning Meadow Rue

If you notice that the leaves are yellowing due to excessive summer heat, you can always cut them back; sure enough, there will be newer and more vibrant leaves in the next season.

Companion Plants For Growing Meadow Rue

If you want to pair up your Meadow Rue with others for your home garden, you should pay attention to the color and height.4 The green of ferns and grasses does wonders for your landscaping needs, but don’t shy away from colorful bouquets like those of iris, alliums, primrose, hellebore, clematis, delphinium, phlomis, and Dutchman’s breeches.

It is good that the Thalictrum plants pride themselves in matters of versatility, so you will rarely run out of options. For the best effect, grow flowering plants of different heights for a tiered look.

The short plants will add some stability to the towering peaks of the Meadow Rue, so you won’t have to worry a lot about staking.

How To Stop Meadow Rue Disease and Pests

As long as you are strategic when planting your Meadow Rue, you won’t have to deal with incessant pests and diseases, and it helps that the plant is quite hardy, not like other perennials. Don’t judge it by its delicate-looking leaves and blossoms, it is quite resilient.

However, you still have to pay close attention to sap-sucking insects that love feasting on the juicy leaves.

A close up of a yellow-green Meadow Rue flowers surrounded by green foliage.

(Image: Annette Meyer (Nennieinszweidrei)15)

The common pests of the Meadow Rue that attack the leaves include aphids, leaf beetles, snails, and slugs. The pests are pretty easy to get rid of using integrated methods,9 even before you start thinking about applying insecticides and other chemicals to kill them.

The natural pest control for Meadow Rue for the mollusks simply involves hand-picking them and dropping them in a bucket of soap water. On the other hand, you may need a mixture of neem oil, water, and dish soap to deal with the insects or even simply hose them off the plant.

Now, onto the diseases that affect the Meadow Rue. Although they are not that common, be on the lookout for brown spots, powdery mildew, and yellow spots.

These manifest on the foliage, so you will likely see weird spots and discolorations on the leaves, and that should be your go-to to start treatment. Since fungal diseases can be a pain to fully treat, you would rather chop off the affected parts to protect the others.

Remove the infected areas and burn them before they get the chance to spread out, but before that, it is important to know the Meadow Rue disease prevention tips. Avoid overwatering and clean your gardening tools to keep these diseases at bay.

Are you on the lookout for a perennial plant with the most breathtaking leaves that will fulfill all your landscaping needs? Look no further than the renowned Meadow Rue, unique in so many ways.

It is ideal if you want bright leaves, and given there are so many members of the Thalictrum genus, you can get white, yellow, pink, or purple flowers; all you have to do is pick your favorite cultivar.

What’s more, is the fact that the plant is low maintenance, so it won’t be too tasking to look after.

How To Identify Meadow Rue

You cannot possibly miss the Meadow Rue; the delicate elongated flower stalks usually give it away, but to be more specific, here is how to be sure.

Meadow Rue Leaves

The bluish-green leaves of the Meadow Rue easily give it away because of their outstanding shapes. For each 3-5 group of leaves, they have 3-12 rounded portions.

Meadow Rue Flowers

Did you know that the male and female parts of the Meadow Rue appear in different plants, and all the flowers are petal-less, measuring around 1/4 inches wide?1

Graphics showing how to identify meadow rue plant, with images of meadow rue seeds, meadow rue flower, and meadow rue leaves.

The flower colors are probably why you would want to plant one, and there are unlimited options, from blue flowers to white, yellow, and purple flowers; the choice is yours.

Thalictrum Species

Getting to learn the fascinating Meadow Rue facts helps you understand more about the plant. For one, did you know that it is referred to as the ‘Feathered Columbine’ in some parts of the US?

Well, there are 120-200 members of the Thalictrum genus,5 only that they are usually collectively known as the Meadow Rue perennial plants. They come in various sizes with different flower colors, and each has specific blooming times and levels of hardiness.

The flowers are probably the most crucial parts, all thanks to their striking, elegant, and delicate looks. It is no wonder Meadow Rue symbolism throughout history has been that of tranquility.

Gardeners laud the fact that they bring out a sense of peace. Apart from that, you will love how hardy the plants generally are and how they are not picky about where they are planted, easily adapting to various conditions.

You can plant it even if you are a beginner simply by the division method and wait for the blooms to show up.

Even though it requires a little bit of patience for the flowers to show, the Meadow Rue is surely worth the wait.

Frequently Asked Questions About Meadow Rue

Is the Meadow Rue a Perennial Flower?

The good news is the Thalictrum genus are perennials that grow for over two years. It is not like the short-lived plants or annuals, so you get more time to enjoy the beautiful flowers.

How Do You Grow a Blooming and Tall Meadow Rue?

Consider increasing the frequency of feeding and watering your plant if it’s slow to bloom. Adding organic fertilizer and mulch can promote flower growth and height, but be cautious not to overdo it as it could harm the plant.

How Long Does the Meadow Rue Live?

Provided that all the needs are met, and the Meadow Rue is comfortable, it should be able to stand even for decades. You will see it growing every season and forming new colonies.


1Chayka, K. (2023). Thalictrum dioicum (Early Meadow Rue). Minnesota Wildflowers. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

2Hassani, N. (2023, August 23). How to Plant and Grow Meadow Rue. Better Homes & Gardens. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

3Heath, S. (2022, November 10). How to Grow and Care for Meadow Rue. The Spruce. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

4Sweet, J. (2021, March 23). How To Grow Thalictrum ‘Meadow Rue’ Plant | Horticulture. Horticulture Magazine. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

5Wikipedia. (2023, October 25). Thalictrum. Wikipedia. Retrieved December 26, 2023, from <>

6N.C. Cooperative Extension. (2023). Thalictrum aquilegiifolium. NC State Extension. Retrieved December 26, 2023, from <>

7Steil, A. (2023, April). How to Divide and Transplant Perennials. Iowa State University. Retrieved December 26, 2023, from <>

8Smith, B. H. (2023). Meadow Rue. Home and Garden Information Center. Retrieved December 26, 2023, from <>

9Cornell University. (2023). ANNUAL AND PERENNIAL PLANT PEST MANAGEMENT. Cornell University. Retrieved December 26, 2023, from <>

10Meadow rue, Flower wallpaper, Buttercup Photo by Annette Meyer (Nennieinszweidrei). (2019, May 29) / Pixabay Content License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Pixabay. Retrieved January 30, 2024, from <>

11Photo 282289897 (Early Meadow-Rue) Photo by Craig Martin. (2023, May 22) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Resized. iNaturalist. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from <>

12Photo 251136977 (Common Meadow-Rue) Photo by Юрий Носков. (2022, July 16) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Resized. iNaturalist. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from <>

13Photo 71621171 (French Meadow-Rue) Photo by Gabriel Mayrhofer. (2020, May 7) / CC0 1.0 DEED | CC0 1.0 Universal. Resized. iNaturalist. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from <>

14Greater meadow-rue, Flowers, Plant Photo by Mohan Nannapaneni (MOHANN). (2022, September 15) / Pixabay Content License. Resized. Pixabay. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from <>

15Yellow meadow rue, Common meadow rue, Wild herbs Photo by Annette Meyer (Nennieinszweidrei). (2021, July 23) / Pixabay Content License. Resized. Pixabay. Retrieved December 27, 2023, from <>