Friday, April 23, 2021

Acanthus syriacus, yes please!

Do you grow acanthus? My first was Acanthus mollis, the plant whose stylized leaves adorn many a cement urn as well as the tops of Corinthian columns. I love those big leaves, and the tall flower spikes. Here's a dark and moody Bloomday photo from my garden back in 2015.

My next acanthus crush was Acanthus sennii, a spiky acanthus—why not!

Unfortunately it's blooms never amounted to much in my garden, so I can't show you a photo of them (go here if you're curious). Interestingly they're red, not the characteristic purple of A. mollis and the subject of this post, A. syriacus. As you might imagine it really was all about the foliage for me though, so I never minded not getting the red flowers.

Acanthus syriacus, though... that's what we're here to talk about today and I adore it's flowers, and they're quite spiky! My first opportunity to purchase an Acanthus syriacus took place during the Portland Garden Blogger's Fling in 2014, during our visit to Joy Creek Nursery. I saw one for sale and snatched it up—I was on the lookout after seeing photos of it on both Panayoti Kelaidis' blog Prairiebreak and and Bob Nold's blog the miserable gardener. It took a couple of years but I got my first flower on that plant in June of 2017.


Turns out that was also my last flower as the plant became shaded out by the huge Ceanothus 'Dark Star' growing above. It reliably came up every year (what a trooper!), but never amounted to much. Here it is emerging this year...as you can see it's multiplied a bit.

Shortly after admiring that emerging foliage I happened to look at the Xera Plants availability and what do you know!? They had Acanthus syriacus listed so I managed to score two more plants! Orange arrows identify the old, and the new.



I am thrilled to add a couple more of this plant to my garden and hope that with the removal of the overbearing ceanothus both the old and the new will thrive...

Because while I do love that foliage, I'd love to see some of those flowers.


 What's your acanthus experience? (if any)

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Weather Diary, April 22: Hi 66, Low 45/ Precip 0 

All material © 2009-2021 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

11 comments:

  1. Maybe a decadeI ago, I scored a few pieces of Acanthus mollis after a friend thinned his garden. I became a little panicky when I realized a happy Acanthus is relentless spreader... and when pulling it up, any tiny bit of root left in the ground will start a new plant. My remaining Acanthus and I came to an understanding: it grows in a dry shade area and behaves well. It doesn't bloom every year, but that's okay.
    Removing your Ceanothus will be a blessing to Acanthus syriacus, maybe you'll even get blooms this year!

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    1. I thought about mentioning my "battle" with the Acanthus mollis when I moved it (and moved it, and moved it, and moved it). It's a determined plant that's for sure!

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  2. Coincidentally, I just received and planted an acanthus mollis "whitewater" yesterday. I have another acanthus whose full name escapes me, but it's doing very well. I love acanthus (says the lady with the rock with the chain hanging off of the side).

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  3. An acanthus with spiky foliage and flowers? It's got DG written all over it!

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    1. Right? Good to see your smiling little face here.

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  4. I had Acanthus mollis in my former garden, where it was very happy. There was already a large specimen in my current garden but when the Eucalyptus tree came down years ago, its shady area became very sunny and it suffered so I removed it - or attempted to, after moving divisions elsewhere. It's never thrived in any of the new locations but comes up annually underneath a Vitex trifolia in its original location. Providing anything in this genus adequate soil moisture has unfortunately become a problem.

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    1. I think you'd find Acanthus syriacus might be the one for you! It really doesn't need the moisture that A. mollis does.

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  5. I got warnings about how mollis spreads, so never planted one, though they are quite beautiful. Syriacus is a beauty.

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  6. I have "Acanthus Envy" I just don't have the room or the tenacity to indulge myself even though every time I see a post (yours is VERY nice !) I have to go through all of those envy pangs yet again ... plus wipe the drool off my keyboard. I still appreciate that want of mine, because what gardener wouldn't aim for something spectacular like this right ? LOL

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  7. We grew A. mollis in our first garden and managed to get it to flower once. We'll never have that much sun to bother to try it again. But what a great plant in its many incarnations.

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