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Acanthus Genus

Bear's breeches

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General Needs

  • LightFull sun or Part shade
  • HardinessFrost hardy (min -5°C)
  • SoilWell drained, Loamy
  • Soil pH6.0 to 8.0
  • WaterDry

Description

Acanthus genus (Bear's breeches). This genus includes about 30 species of perennials, some of which are semi-evergreen. The leaves are deeply lobed and toothed, and produce sturdy upright spikes of flowers in the spring.

Characteristics

Perennials, Shrubs

Origin

Mediterranean, Africa.

The name Acanthus from the Greek word 'akanthos' for 'thorn'. Several of the species are prickly.

Interest and use

Grown for their large, deeply cut leaves and their architectural spikes of flowers which persist beyond the summer to give structure to the autumn/winter garden.

The Acanthus plant is thought to have inspired the Corinthian order, the most ornate of the three principal Greek and Roman architectural orders. Developed by the Corinthians, leaves of the plant are shown in combination with scrolls on capitals and friezes - a design motif that was enthusiastically re-adopted in the Renaissance and is still used today. One of the most influential examples was the enormous Temple of Olympian Zeus in Athens.

Cultivation

Protect crowns in first winter after planting. Long, thong-like roots make plants difficult to eradicate if wrongly placed. Keep watered in dry periods.

Propagation

By seed or division in early autumn or spring, or by root cuttings in winter.

Pests, diseases or disorders

Powdery mildew may be a problem. Also, snails and caterpillars may damage new growth.

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