Gunnera is quite popular among plant collectors because it’s gigantic, easy to care for, and distinctly attractive!
This post will discuss this genus’ requirements, origin, and growth behavior to help you take care of yours! Ready to bring a Gunnera home? Check out the purchasing options we’ve listed below.
Table of Contents
- 1 What Is Gunnera?
- 2 Where To Buy
- 3 Gunnera Plant Size
- 4 Gunnera Care Needs
- 5 Similar Plants
- 6 Conclusion
What Is Gunnera?
The Gunnera is the only genus of herbaceous flowering plants from the Gunneraceae family. There are about 63 species in this family that vary in size. Each species has beautiful rich green large leaves that are puckered, palmately lobed, and veined.
The Gunnera plants are known as Dinosaur Food, Giant Rhubarb, and Chilean Rhubarb (Chile Rhubarb). They are typically known for their gigantic and prehistoric-looking foliage.
Here are some of the most admired varieties in the Gunnera genus:
- Gunnera Manicata – the largest and most famous of all Gunneras. The Royal Horticultural Society gave the G. Manicata the prestigious Garden Merit Award. This plant can reach up to 4.5 meters when planted outdoors.
- Gunnera Tinctoria – this plant has more rounded and deeply-lobed leaves than Manicata. It can reach up to 2 meters high.
- Gunnera Magellanica – also known as the Devil’s Strawberry- is a dwarf Gunnera that looks like a miniature version of the giant varieties.
The Gunnera would grow and flourish well in certain climates, preferably in hardiness zones 9-11.
Although called a rhubarb, the leaves and crown of Gunneras are not edible. While some species are not toxic, they are still dangerous to eat. Their stems and leaf blades have sharp bristles and spikes that can scratch your skin.
Origin And Family
Gunneras come from the swampy regions of Central and South America, New Zealand, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Madagascar. It has done well in most households with much water access and soil moisture as an indoor plant.
This genus was named after the Norwegian botanist Johan Ernst Gunnerus. Some species yield large red or green flowers in early summer.
Where To Buy
The Gunnera can be affordable, costing between $15 for seeds and $50+ for larger or more mature plants.
Gunnera Plant Size
On average, the Gunnera grows up to 1.5-4 meters tall outdoors. It usually grows moderately, especially in a sheltered spot.
Gunnera Care Needs
Your Gunnera, with its massive foliage, will blossom if you take good care of it. This plant loves water and permanently moist soil throughout the year.
Gunneras, as mentioned above, are massive plants that require huge space to reach their full growth. However, these plants can be grown indoors as long as you provide their needs.
Take the following into consideration if you want an indoor Gunnera:
- Select a big enough pot – planting Gunneras in a pot prevents them from growing to their full size.
- Plant it in highly fertile soil – the soil must be rich and moist at all times; dried-out soil can kill these plants.
- Keep its roots moist – Gunneras love boggy soil; however, they cannot be left in soggy soil for a long time, or they may succumb to root rot.
- Give it plenty of sunlight – these plants can develop in full sun or partial shade, but they cannot tolerate hot or dry environments.
Take a look at the more detailed growing recommendations we’ve provided below to keep your Gunnera healthy and happy!
Like many plants from the Gunnera genus, the Gunnera is easy to care for in most situations, given the proper amount of water and moisture-rich soil. With this Gunnera plants guide, you can quickly grow these gigantic plants.
A Gunnera reaches a height of 1.5-4 meters when grown inside a home. This plant will usually grow more actively during the early spring and summer. Outside, it prefers to be planted at a pond’s edge or in a bog garden.
Most Gunnera species are known to grow at a moderate pace.
Gunner plants can be potted so ensure you select a big enough pot, as they can get huge when planted. They prefer having their extensive root system free as it contributes to their overall size.
When potting, select a pot with good drainage. A large-sized terracotta pot works fine. Drainage holes are essential to keep excess water from drowning the roots of your Gunnera plant.
A peat-free multipurpose compost is a suitable choice for this moisture-loving genus. Add components such as loam or loam-based compost to make your humus-rich soil. Keep in mind that these plants prefer a permanently moist growing medium.
Make sure the soil type you choose for your garden has adequate drainage and aeration so that the roots may breathe more easily.
We suggest these potting mixes:
As for the soil, you’ll need one with a pH of around 6.1-6.5, which is neutral to acidic. To check your soil’s pH, if you’re concerned, you may get a simple pH meter tool online. We’ve also written an extensive article about ensuring the quality of your soil here:.
You may reduce acidity in your soil by adding aluminum sulfate or sulfur if the pH is too high.
On the other side, you may replenish your soil with baking soda, calcitic or dolomitic lime, or wood ash if the pH is too low.
Proper watering is essential for Gunnera plants. Too much watering may cause diseases such as root rot. Inadequate watering may cause your plant’s roots to dry out, especially during warm days. In general, Gunneras should have a growing medium that is permanently moist.
Provide a wide water collection dish under your plant’s pot so that water is always available.
Water your plant regularly but ensure the roots do not get flooded.
Gunneras can grow in full sun or partial shade. They prefer brighter conditions during hot days and wet summers. In winter, they prefer shade.
If you’re worried that your Gunnera isn’t getting enough light, you may have to place it closer to a window, or using artificial lights is another option. Here are a few basic options for you to consider:
Avoid clustering Gunnera.
A balanced or slow-release fertilizer is ideal for Gunneras. Covington Plant Food & Fertilizer Liquid Concentrate, for example, would work. Learn more about slow-release fertilizers here.
When you first plant a Gunnera, give it a heavy feeding to boost its growth. It’s ideal to feed these plants twice more during their growing season.
It is possible to propagate a Gunnera with the proper methods. Here are various techniques for propagating this gigantic houseplant.
Gunneras can be propagated through a process called division. While this method is used for vegetables with typical bulbs, tubers, stolons, rhizomes, and suckers, it can also be used for houseplants with stems that grow in clumps.
1. Dig up. Take the plant out of its pot. Remember to wear gardening gloves when handling plants and soil.
2. Separate. It should be visible where the roots and stems spontaneously separate. Gently pull them apart with your fingers. Cut the roots where the sections connect.
3. Repot. Put each section in new pots filled with the same soil they’re used to.
Humidity And Aeration
High humidity is best for your Gunnera.
Crispy leaves and browning edges often characterize the lack of humidity in houseplants. Think about purchasing a humidifier or putting your plant in areas with natural higher humidity levels that are well-lit (such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms).
Warm temperatures are preferable for Gunnera plants. That said, if grown outside, it is recommended to insulate them to protect them from cold. Some of their leaves would wilt and turn dry when the first frost set in. You can cut those dead leaves and pile them at the top of the crown of the plant as a makeshift canopy as a form of winter protection.
In spring, move the cuttings and old leaves to allow new growth to develop.
Although a rare occurrence in an indoor environment, you might be able to witness your Gunnera producing flowers. Some species from the genus develop spikes with tiny red-green flowers that appear in the early summer. Sometimes, the flowers are followed by the growth of small fruits that are not edible.
The Gunnera genus is made up of plants that are either toxic or non-toxic to humans and pets. Handle this plant responsibly if you have tiny children or pets in your home. If one of the poisonous species is ingested, you can expect the following symptoms: diarrhea, light vomiting, and other intestinal discomforts. This plant is considered non-life-threatening in most cases.
|Toxic To Pets?||Care Specifics|
|Common Name||Dinosaur Food, Giant Rhubarb, Chile Rhubarb|
|Origin||Central and South America, New Zealand, Africa, Southeast Asia, Australia, and Madagascar|
|Leaf Color||rich green|
|Recommended Home Placement||in any spot sheltered from winds|
|Soil||peat-free multipurpose compost|
|When To Water||Water ?MISSING?.|
|When To Fertilize||?MISSING? during growing season|
|Toxic To Pets?||Yes – symptoms include diarrhea, light vomiting, and other intestinal discomfort|
|Common Pests & Diseases||spider mites, brown tips, scale insects, yellow leabes, root rot, mealy bugs, drooping leaves|
Pests, Diseases, And Other Problems
In most situations, the Gunnera is a disease-resistant and pest-resistant plant. However, a few frequent problems might have an impact on it. Below, we talk about a few typical issues and solutions to protect your Gunnera.
Spider mites are an unwelcome but widespread problem on houseplants. Spider mite damage seems like little brown or yellow dots on your plant’s huge leaves. You might notice delicate, sticky webs crawling with red bugs in a severe infestation.
To dislodge the spider mites, begin by thoroughly washing off every nook and cranny of your tropical plant. You will need to do this on a sink, in a tub, or outdoors. If that doesn’t work, you can use insecticidal soap, neem oil, or horticultural oil to suffocate the spider mites.
If you have perennial plants in your home, you might need to quarantine your sick plants while controlling the spider mite population.
Adult scales are covered in a waxy coating and sedentary, but they will give birth to tiny crawling bugs.
You may remove armored scales, but you must do so cautiously using your fingertips or an old ID card. Be careful not to rip your Gunnera’s enormous leaves.
To kill scale insects, use neem oil, horticultural oil, or insecticidal soap. Spray your plant with a broad insecticide when you observe crawlers that are active. After a week, repeat the process with a second application. Below are some goods we suggest:
Here are those blue Skeletonizing Flea Beetles (Macrohaltica) we pulled the car over for.— 🐞 Nancy Miorelli 🐞 (@SciBugs) February 29, 2020
They're eating this toxic plant (Gunnera). Because the plant is toxic, they too are toxic and just hang out in plain sight cuz no one will eat them. pic.twitter.com/PMdAUwLSrI
Mealybugs may infest your Gunnera. If you spot these little parasites with white fluff, act promptly. A cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol will kill mealies on contact, turning them brown or orange in color. A spray of diluted Neem oil also works well as a preventive measure.
Brown Leaf Tips
Occasionally, you might find brown leaf tips on your plant. Typically, this indicates that your plant is underwatered or is quickly losing moisture from its massive leaves through transpiration.
Enhance the humidity levels in your indoor growing space, or you can water your plant when the topsoil dries out.
Ensure that your plant has a breathable, well-draining growth medium because brown leaf tips might potentially indicate a problem with the plant’s roots.
Drooping leaves on the Gunnera can be brought by incorrect lighting, inconsistent watering, and lack of humidity. It might also help to clean your plant’s leaves with plain water and a microfiber cloth to remove the dust layers that can interfere with photosynthesis.
If you notice the leaves of your indoor plants turning yellow, you will need to trace any recent adjustments in your usual care practices or the weather.
Causes of yellowing leaves can be due to too much light, lack of light, overwatering, under-watering, over-fertilizing, under-fertilizing, root damage, temperature swings, and pests.
A typical cause of death for a Gunnera plant is root rot, which occurs when you overwater your plant.
Inadequate drainage is another source of root rot, and the different species from the genus Gunnera need a peat-free multipurpose compost that drains well.
When choosing a pot for your giant Gunnera, ensure there are drainage holes to let excess water flow through. Planters made of clay or unglazed ceramic can also assist the soil in retaining moisture while gradually releasing it into the atmosphere.
New plants in the garden: 3 Gunnera tinctoria pic.twitter.com/ZpqqDh48Gm— Peter Timmermans (@TimmermansPeter) June 6, 2020
Love Gunneras? Here are other related plant options you should try:
Rubber Tree: – These are fast-growing houseplants that are easy to maintain and grow. Their big, glossy leaves are a beautiful addition to any home and make great air purifiers.
Ponytail Palm: – This is a perfect houseplant for beginners – it’s robust, long-living, and requires very easy care.
Lucky Bamboo: – This is another easy-to-care-for plant that can be used as filler in wide open spaces of indoor gardens. It is believed to bring prosperity and can counter bad luck.
Parlor Palm: – Easy-to-care-for and well-loved by plant enthusiasts, this plant is sure to spruce up your indoor garden of indoor plants.
The Gunnera is a stunning plant and is indeed a delight to care for. Your efforts for this plant will be paid for when you witness its showy and massive foliage unfold.
Can’t get enough of Gunnera plant guides? Check out these other helpful articles from Two Peas In A Condo!
Help us grow! This post contains affiliate links, which means we receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something recommended. All opinions, however, are our own, and we do not accept payments for positive reviews.