Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tetrapanax papyrifer, my favorite plant in the garden…this week.

Coming home from a dog walk I realized that finally it had happened. This was always what I’d envisioned when I’d planted a Tetrapanax in this corner...

They were going great a few years ago but then were knocked back by a tough winter. That resulted in what was two trunks becoming five, so although I had to wait for them to achieve the desired height it wasn’t all bad.

I fondly remember a conversation I had with a nursery person a couple of years ago. I can’t remember how we got on the subject of Tetrapanx but she said “well, really they aren’t what I think of as plants appropriate for front yard”…I couldn’t disagree more, why would you want to hide these plants in the back garden? (well actually you should plant some there too) I love watching people walk by an look at them like they aren’t quite sure what the heck they are.

The stats:
  • Hardy in zones 8 – 11
  • Can reach an eventual size of 20ft tall and 15ft wide (I imagine they’re including every possible runner in that width)
  • Likes part sun to part shade, although these are in what I consider to be full sun
  • Likes well drained rich soil with even moisture, although I find them to be fairly drought tolerant

A couple of drawbacks:
The stems and bottom of the leaves is covered with an indumentum which can be a lung irritant to some people. While I have never had a problem when working near them I can say you should never look up while cutting off a leaf above you. The indumentum will fall into your eyes, nose, throat and create quite the painful situation.

Also this plant can send out runners that show up several feet away. This scares many people but I must say they are very easily removed (or moved)...this is no nasty Bishops Weed! I’ve currently got three babies I’m letting grow on to a respectable size before transplanting and gifting to a couple of friends. Plants you like which make more (free!) plants you like is not a bad thing!

As for the blooms they tend to get too late of a start in my climate to do anything before a hard frost cuts them back. Here’s the closest I’ve come to seeing blooms on a different plant (in the back garden) last winter…

By the way few people have mentioned my weekly favorite plant feature could easily become an internet meme for us garden bloggers (like the popular Garden Bloggers Bloomday). I would love it if you were inspired to post about a favorite plant in your garden weekly or monthly. This feature began because I’d notice how good a certain plant was looking and I wanted an excuse to talk about it, to introduce others to it. Isn’t that the best part of visiting a garden, discovering “new to you” plants? So if you’ve at all been tempted to do a similar post then please do it! I’m excited to learn what you're excited about in your garden!

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

34 comments:

  1. That is looking so good! Mine has taken off this year too, planted in a steel feed trough in the gravel garden. I hope it eventually has runners too. And I love the idea of turning this into an Internet meme.

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    1. You might try disturbing the roots of your Tetrapanx Alison, to get it to send up babies. It's worked for me in the past. As has a bad winter but I'm hoping we don't experience one of those anytime soon.

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  2. Love it, can't wait until mine grows that much!

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  3. So happy to see you featuring this tropical beauty this week! I took your advice and shoveled around mine to try to stimulate more trunks, but so far nothing. And I'll happily lift your "favorite plant in the garden this week" meme and run with it!

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    1. I did too Jane (around the one next to the patio), I glanced over there yesterday but should go look closer.

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  4. So exciting. And yes, absolutment on the meme idea.

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    1. One of those babies has your name on it...when it gets older (and assuming you still want it).

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  5. I'd love a baby if you ever have any to give away :-).

    Great idea starting a meme. I can definitely come up with a favorite place each week.

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    1. Okay you're on the list Gerhard. This round is spoken for but then next one will be yours!

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  6. Beautiful! Love this plant and the leaves make beautiful concrete casts! The idea of a favorite plant meme is, as our friend Louis might say, epic!

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    1. I wish I didn't hate working with concrete and I'd give it a go...

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  7. Gorgeous! Your Tetrapanax inspired the addition of two in my garden. I love the meme idea but I'll need to increase my plant budget. ;-)

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  8. I love big plants, but... the fuzz scares me a bit. Don't look up while cutting a leaf? Yikes.

    As for the meme... nice idea! It's easier to remember "once a week" than "on this specific date of each month". :)

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    1. My friend Lauren removed all of hers because of the fuzz. I stood up yesterday after cutting back a branch on a manzanita not realizing I was right under a tetrapanax leaf. Oh the stuff rained down! Thankfully I was wearing a baseball cap so it stayed off my face.

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  9. I could so find a plant a week! I have so darn many! LOL And love the texture that your Tetrapanax gives to your garden. Cool plant but I have no shade so it would crisp up very quickly!

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    1. Ya, your "full sun" is certainly different than our full sun. Last year when we shot to 102 degrees a few of my leaves were scorched pretty bad.

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  10. Tetrapanax papyrifer would look good anywhere you have space for it, front or back garden! Glad to see that your specimen is now a towering one and even more of a sight to behold.

    We've always thought since you started it that your 'plant of the week' is a great idea that yes, could easily turn into a meme.

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    1. Yes I suppose space is an issue when including this one in the garden, especially when it's shorter and its huge leaves are closer to the ground.

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  11. I'm willing to bet that is not the only plant that has passers-by scratching their heads and wondering "what will she think of next?"

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    1. Oh gosh, you're probably right.

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  12. sounds like a wonderful idea, although I spend so much time reading everyone else's I never get around to doing my own posts!

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    1. Oh the dangers of garden blogging...

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  13. Great plant, great meme! I can't believe someone would declare that unworthy of the front yard.

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    1. Gardeners are full of opinions aren't we? Breaking the "rules" is half the fun right?

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  14. AnonymousJune 19, 2013

    I love this plant. I have been growing T.p.'Steroidal Giant' since 2005. I have never been able to overwinter Tetrapanax papyrifer, even in mild winters. But with Steroidal Giant it over winters just fine, even when froze to the roots. It just spreads after such events. It has gotten so bad that people turn their lights off and wouldn't answer their door, like some do with zucchini squash, when I come knocking with potted steroidal giants to give them.

    John (Aberdeen, WA)

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    1. Interesting, I'd never heard there was a difference in the cold or wet tolerance of the two, good to know! I can't imagine anyone with the space saying no to your gift of a baby "T"...of course I also like zucchini so maybe I'm just odd.

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  15. I love seeing your tetrapanax. They seem to be a somewhat rare plant up here as you really don't see them planted anywhere. And I've never seen one in a nursery! But there are a few folks on Vancouver Island that have them so I bet the island has a source. I've been planning a trip out there for a woodlanders hardy red callistemon so I'll have to add this to me plant hunting on the island list.

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  16. Well, I guess that's settled then. Now along with GBBD, I'll be doing a Favourite Plant in the Garden... or a FPITG... :D

    I've never seen or heard of a Terapanax before I started reading your blog. Your gardeners over there in Portland are an amazing bunch. It seems to me like the holy grail of gardening places, you have a seemingly perfect climate, heaps of cool plants, and an amazing bunch of knowledgeable people... sadly there's just a bit of a pond between there and here... some refer to it as the Pacific Ocean ;)

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  17. I have just moved in to a house which has a Tetrapanax papyriferus in the back garden 3m tall,and now I know what it is am unsure how and when to prune it. It is a stunning plant and has gigantic leaves!! so I am afraid of killing it by pruning, any advice would be fantastic. It has one trunk with lots of branches on the top but is leaning over so needs tlc.The base trunk is about 5" thick so it looks a fair age. Please help thanks :)

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    1. Hi Beth...I have never heard of anyone pruning a tetrapanax. I suppose if you needed to reduce its height you could cut it back in the early spring, but I'd guess there would be no guarantee it would sprout new growth. Why do you think you need to prune it? Perhaps staking would help with the leaning?

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  18. Why have the leaves on my plant discoloured and fallen off

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