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 in the natural location.
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 late 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.
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 soon 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.