How to grow hepatica

Common liverwort


from 7.00cm to 15.00cm
Growth width
from 0.00cm to 0.00cm
Growth characteristics
  • flat growing
  • clumping
  • carpeting
Fruit properties
  • nondescript
  • Self-sowing
  • partially shaded to shady
Ornamental or utility value
  • Floral decoration
  • Nectar or pollen plant
  • native wild plant
  • Ground cover
  • Group planting
  • Underplanting
  • Naturalization
Garden style
  • Natural garden
  • Park area
  • Forest garden


The liverwort (Hepatica nobilis) belongs to the buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and is a native forest shrub with sky-blue flowers that is under nature protection in Germany: This means that it may not be picked or dug up at the natural site. The unusual name is derived from the shape of the leaves. In the Middle Ages it was supposedly concluded from the liver-like shape of the leaves that the liverwort had a liver-healing effect - but this is only partially true. Its small, blue flowers sprout from the end of February to April between dried leaves and broken branches from the forest floor. On a spring walk in the beech forest you have surely come across the native liverwort. White and pink specimens are also rarely seen in the forest. In nurseries, on the other hand, there are a large number of unusual varieties.


The low, evergreen perennials form small, compact carpets and reach heights of up to 15 centimeters.


The three to six centimeters long, medium green and glossy leaves are kidney-shaped and lobed. The underside is hairy and colored purple.


From March to April the liverwort shows its most beautiful side. The bowl-shaped and hermaphrodite flowers are two to three centimeters in size and consist of three green sepals and six to nine bracts. The flowers are terminal and arranged radially symmetrically. The flower colors range from the typical blue-violet of the species through pink to white in the varieties.


After flowering, the liverwort forms a fruit cluster in the form of a collective fruit.


If you want to accommodate the dainty plant in the garden, you should note that it requires forest-like light and soil conditions. The liverwort likes relatively shady places under bushes and trees with slightly moist soil in winter and spring, and drought in summer. You can tell pretty easily if your liverwort will accept the location you have chosen. If it is not feeling well, the leaves quickly become blotchy with dry, brown spots, mainly on the leaf edge.


A calcareous, humus-rich, moderately dry to fresh, permeable soil is ideal. The liverwort thrives in neutral to minimally alkaline soils.


So that the small forest dwellers can come into their own, liverworts should be planted so that they can form a larger carpet unhindered. When planting, make sure to loosen heavy soil with a little sand so that waterlogging cannot build up later. If you want to green a larger area with the liverwort, you should plant the perennials relatively densely - 24 to 26 plants per square meter are ideal. When planting, it is important that you put the plants in the ground as quickly as possible after buying them because their roots dry out quickly.


In the right location, liverworts prefer to grow undisturbed, in peace and quiet and hardly need any care. In autumn they should only be covered with a little bark mulch. Falling autumn leaves can easily remain and serve as a protective cover for the perennials in the shade. The old autumn leaves are only removed shortly before the new bloom.


Liverworts are wonderfully suitable for underplanting trees or for particularly shady corners in the garden and can be combined well with other shade plants.


Not only the European liverwort is available in the nurseries, but also the Asian one. The Japanese liverworts (Hepatica nobilis var. Japonica) are particularly sophisticated in their bloom and also very expensive to buy. The 'Yamahibiki' variety, for example, costs around 250 euros per plant! But it can be even more expensive: Real liverwort collectors pay sums of money for special breeds and rarities from Japan, for which you could also buy a small car. It should be noted that some of these Asian treasures only thrive in the cool and temperate winter garden.


Hepatica can be propagated either by division or by sowing. If the perennials are divided, the best time is right after flowering. The divided plants need well-developed roots, so only adult specimens should be divided. However, these also only grow back very slowly.

Diseases and pests

The liverwort is a robust shade perennial and hardly susceptible to plant diseases and pests. However, it reacts sensitively to persistent waterlogging. Then rotten roots and fallen leaves are the result. Therefore, make sure that the soil is well-drained.