Acanthus

Acanthus

A robust and reliable perennial that provides an impact in any part of the garden with its tall sculptural flower spikes.

Family: Acanthaceae
Botanical Name: Acanthus
Common Names: Bear's breeches

Foliage: Large glossy green, deeply cut leaves, up to 1ft across (deciduous).

Flowers: Bears tall pinky-white spikes of hooded flowers in summer, up to 4ft in height.

Flowering Period: All summer (July to September).

Soil: Any moist but well-drained, fertile soil. Best in chalk, sand or loam. Any pH.

Conditions: Likes full sun but will tollerate some shade.

Habit: Upright, clump forming.

Type: Herbaceous perennial.

Origin: tropical and warm temperate regions.

Hardiness: Most varieties are hardy in the UK once established.

Planting and Growing Acanthus

Needs very little care and attention once established. An ideal specimen plant for the middle of a flower bed or back of the border. Position in full sun or light shade.

Plant pot grown specimens between autumn and spring. Can be sited in a north, east, west or south facing aspect, either in an exposed or sheltered possition. Does not normally require staking except on very exposed sites.

Good as cut flowers and loved by flower arrangers.

Taking Care of Acanthus

Protect crowns for the first couple of winters in colder districts.

Pruning Acanthus

Cut down stems after flowering.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest free but young plants can be affected by slugs. Can be affected by powdery mildew.

Propagating Acanthus

Propagate by division in spring or take 3in (8cm) root cuttings in winter. Alternatively sow seed under cover in spring.

Popular Varieties of Acanthus Grown in the UK

There are a number of cultivars of Acanthus available from medium to tall height:

A. mollis has bold glossy green leaves and tall flower spikes of white, purple and green. Height to 3ft (90cm).

A. longifolius has dark green, deeply cut foliage and tall spikes of lilac flowers from early to mid-summer. Height to 2.5ft (75cm).

A. spinosus has prickly, deeply cut glossy green leaves topped by very tall flower spikes of white, purple and green in mid-summer. Height to 4ft (1.2m).