Meadow Rue Care: How To Grow Thalictrum Aquilegifolium

Thalictrum aquilegiifolium [tha-LIK-trum, ak-wil-egg-ee-FOH-lee-um] are known for their gorgeous showy flowers and are a part of the buttercup Ranunculus family Ranunculaceae. 

These Eudicots are native to temperate Asia and Europe. T. aquilegifolium also naturalizes in North America with populations limited to New York, the United States, and Ontario, Canada.

Attractive blloms of the Meadow Rue - Thalictrum AquilegifoliumPin

While the most popular common name of the plant species is Meadow-rue, it is also known as:

  • The Siberian columbine meadow-rue
  • Columbine meadow-rue
  • French meadow-rue
  • Greater meadow-rue

The specific epithet refers to the plant’s foliage, which resembles the columbine genus, Aquilegia’s blue-green foliage. 

The scientific name of the genus, on the other hand, comes from the Greek word thaliktron

This name was used by Dioscorides to describe another plant from the same genus.

Meadow Rue Thalictrum Care                                      

Size & Growth

The bluish-green foliage color of the columbine meadow rue looks incredible when set against other perennials.

When given the right growing conditions and proper maintenance, these can grow up to a height of 3.5” feet tall. 

Meadow Rues have a beautiful herbaceous spread of 18” inches wide. 

The leaves consist of lacy, frilled leaflets. The foliage and dainty flowers atop stems create great ornamental interest, similar to maidenhair ferns.

Flowering and Fragrance

Come early summer, the plant produces an abundance of flat-top panicles. 

The fluffy flowers of the meadow rue are borne in clusters. The most common flower color is pink but you’ll find violet and white varieties as well.

Male flowers are purple, which comes from the profusely purple stamen. 

These are the main flowy flowers compared to female flowers. 

The flower heads are flat and appear in clusters atop erect stems.

The blooms are not fragrant and may also be put on a display in late spring. 

The pendulous clusters have wing-like seeds, providing extended bloom interest in the garden.

Light & Temperature

Meadow rues are attractive, low-maintenance, easy-to-care-for plants and a joy to have in gardens where the sun shines. 

Although they can tolerate full sun to part shade, the optimal growing conditions for meadow-rues are rich, humusy soils with light shade or partial shade.

These flowering herbaceous perennials are hardy to USDA Hardiness Zones 5 to 8, with 8b being the maximum recommended USDA zone. 

The meadow Thalictrum aquilegiifolium is best grown in temperate climates and doesn’t tolerate hot and humid summers very well.

Watering and Feeding

  • The plants, similar to other perennials, have medium water needs. 
  • Water the plants regularly making sure the soil doesn’t dry out completely. 
  • Also, make sure you don’t overwater and make the soil soggy. 
  • Mulch in colder climates.
  • If you’re using fertile soil, feeding organic compost during the growing season may help produce better growth.

Soil & Transplanting

The meadow rue responds well to transplanting. 

If you choose the right location and provide a healthy growing medium, they’ll thrive and produce healthy bright flowers once bloom time arrives.

Siberian columbine meadow rues don’t have specific soil requirements. 

Use well-drained and fertile or humus-rich soil for your plants. 

It should have good moisture retention with good drainage to prevent soggy soil from leading to root rot.

Grooming and Maintenance

Perennials are mostly low-maintenance.  Meadow rue plants are no exception. 

You don’t have to extensively prune the foliage. Deadheading the flowers may encourage continued flowering. 

You also don’t need to stake the stems for support.

The only maintenance you need to never skimp on is keeping the soil moist but not soggy and adding mulch in colder months.

How To Propagate Thalictrum Aquilegifolium?

This meadow rue is propagated by seeds and by division/separation.

  • If propagating with seeds, treat them to cold stratification for 4 to 5 weeks at least. 
  • Sow the seeds in the fall. 
  • Start them indoors and move them to their permanent locations outside in the garden.
  • Divide or separate the roots in spring. 
  • Be careful when handling new roots.

Thalictrum Aquilegifolium Pest or Diseases            

French meadow-rue plants are typically free from major pest and disease problems. 

The plant is also non-aggressive and non-invasive. 

Plant it in your gardens without having to worry about them spreading wildly and taking over other plants.


The plant, much like other species in the Thalictrum genus contains an alkaloid called ‘Thalidisine’. 

This alkaloid is benzylisoquinoline, meaning it may have some pharmacological actions. 

Hence, various species of the Thalictrum genus are used in folk medicine in the UK.

Meadow Rue Uses

Spring flowers produced, especially by the ‘Thundercloud’ cultivar, fit beautifully in different garden settings. 

Plant them in flower beds and borders with other perennials or annuals. 

Or add them to cottage and wildflower gardens or even meadows. They make great cut flowers. 

During spring when there is an abundance of these flowers, cut them and bring them inside, adding them to a wildflower bouquet in your dining room.

The flowers also attract pollinators including butterflies and bees, making the plant effective for pollinator gardens.

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