||ordinary garden soil
||Give 2-3 months cold, then germinate at room temperature
detailed seed-starting info below
|Glossy, interestingly cut foliage is quite attractive, and forms a tight cluster. Upright flowering stalks in summer carry rows of two-toned flowers to a striking effect. In ideal conditions, acanthus is reputed to spread rapidly by roots, but in our garden (in the Northern range of its hardiness zone) it hasn't posed a problem in the least. The plant keeps adding interest over a long season, with its flowers progressing upwards along the stalk, and fading to a tan color as they go. The pictures below were taken at the beginning (left) and end (right) of August.
|For years I tried unsuccessfully to retrieve seed from the smallish pods that form near the flower stalks; this year I found out why: true seed pods are much larger, ballooning to the size of a medium grape and containing several glossy fat lumpy seeds. I still got only a few. ||
We left this plant behind in our Pennsylvania garden (and wish it well); we don't grow it in Houston.
About my plant portraits
PlantLinks to other web pages about Acanthus mollis
Some particularly helpful links to other websites
Visitors to this page have left the following comments
|wanda shelmidine||Feb 21, 2006||I wish you had hardiness zones stated on your web site. I live in zone 4b so I am always looking for hardy plants.
Thank you for your time,
But I do! (that's the Z6-9, above)
|Beverly||Mar 27, 2006||I read somewhere that this would grow under a camphor tree...Do you know anything about that?|
I've no idea, Beverly. I suspect I'm in the wrong zone.
|Kirsty, South Australia||Apr 24, 2006||I have hacked & removed this plant from my newly purhcased house as it was left to go unruly. I have since dug up the roots system and found that in any rain the plant will re-grow from as little as 3mm of left over roots system. At present I have about fifty in pots ready to sell. Is there a specialty market I should approach as the nurseries in my area will not take them as no-one wants to buy a plant that (left to go it alone) will become unruly again.
I love it, it looks great and is certainly hardy but it definitly needs to be manicured. In huge pots it looks a treat. |
Likewise, it spreads agressively in my parents' garden in the Netherlands. It's very mild-mannered in my garden - either because of slightly harsher weather, or because I don't provide quite as nice a soil.
|Lynda Posey||Jun 14, 2006||I have a beautiful acantus mollis in a huge pot which has bloomed 3 years running. However, the foilage keeps turning yellow and dying back. Someone told me it needed a steady moisture and not be allowed to dry out. I live in Zone 8, south Georgia. Do you know?|
|Beckie, Houston Texas||Aug 09, 2006||I purchased a beautiful flowering acanthus two months ago and planted it in a partial sun location with 1/2 gal per day water system. Older leaves are now turning yellow and a couple new leaves started to develop, but then quit growing. We dug up the plant and found the roots healthy. The plant has been transplanted to a flower pot for about 3 weeks, still in partial sun and 1/2 gal water per day, but doesn't look any better. What should we do?|
|Sandy||Sep 27, 2008||I have 2 beautiful acantus mollis and I learned that they are hard to move! I only had one and had it in a bed that i decided it didn't belong, so i dug it up and moved it. Well, I learned that you just can't get it all, so I still have one in the original place! Going to move it again and maybe I will have 3 of them next Spring!!|
|Leslie Moore||Jun 01, 2009||Here in Greece the English common name is "wild rhubarb". I surfed to confirm this finding only oyster plant (Australia) and of course "bears britches" (US). One site also notes "Grecian plant". Regards|
|Donna||Jun 04, 2010||We have tried to get rid of the roots from the garden without success they just keep appearing, can anyone help?|
|Laura||Jun 05, 2010||I have had my bears breeches for 3 years...grows fine, it has NEVER bloomed! Any thoughts as to why?|
|Henry||Jul 29, 2010||We too have the yellowing, dying back and regenerating, usually all at the same time, from fist sized root stock taken from San Francisco to upstate NY zone 5. (we grow it indoors, but it is spending the summer outdoors). Even indoors it never sports more than 3 leaves growing new ones as the old ones die back. It needs to be re-potted periodically as the roots go crazy, but the plant never does. Any suggestions? Thanks for identifying this plant. It grows plentifully outdoors in Golden Gate Park. (we didn't take it from there)|
|Seema||Jul 20, 2011||I live in Toronto and am trying to find this plant. I saw it in a private gardens tour (annual event)Niagara Falls, Canada and fell in love with its very interesting and unusual flowers. Any idea as to where can it be bought and will it survive in Toronto?|
Toronto would be borderline, but it's worth a try – mine have never failed to come through the Pennsylvania winters. It's not an uncommon perennial - many online sources should be able to offer it.
|Sean||Sep 23, 2011||This for the commenter from Toronto. I live just NW of T.O. in Brampton. I planted one three years ago and it has come back each year. Though I only got foliage for the first two seasons, I was rewarded with 6 blooms this year and it now has a spread of 2 ft. The plant receives full sun.|
|odannyoh||May 22, 2012||I have purchased a Acanthus mollis when I got it, it was a deep green glossy leafed specimin, I live in Tucson AZ (I dont know what zone that is) the insturctions stated "needs wet or constantly moist soil" I have it in a huge pot. Partial sun. The leaves are yellowing and look like the color of a light green sweet potato vine. What the heck am I doing to it? How do I keep the leaves from turning light green?
Hmmm, not something I've seen before. Sounds like it may be a nutritional deficit of some kind. I would try giving it some organic fertilizer that covers most of the nutrient spectrum.
|Chrystelle||Dec 07, 2012||I have many of these in my backyard; they just spread like wildfire! My biggest one is 6ft tall and 8ft spread; it just keeps populating. I get the most flowers and leafy growth from the one in full morning sun but is protected from the afternoon sun. These seem to wilt if they get too hot. I have recently transplanted 3 of them to a shady spot near my back door and they have established themselves and are beginning to have new growth and I am a novice gardener so if I can get them to grow, anyone can! Just make sure your soil is well draining and the more you water, the more growth you get. They are very thirsty! Even when it dies off a bit after it flowers, the leaves always come back lush in winter but I'm in Adelaide, Australia and we have no frost here. Lowest temperature would be around 50 degrees Fahrenheit and highest temperature is average over 100 degrees.
|Roy||Apr 30, 2013||I have this growing in a few parts of my garden in the UK. It is a bit of a thug. It flowers best in a very stony well drained soil but also grows in clay with less flowers. The roots are very deep over 2 foot. I would suggest a very large pot well watered would be ideal and if the leaves are yellow it is not getting enough water. If anyone wants some they can come and dig mine out I spent 2 hours removing roots yesterday but there are still plenty left.|
|Susan Stone||Jul 11, 2013||I love this plant and the shiny green leaves. It comes back every year and looks beautiful in my backyard. I am concerned that the leaves are turning yellow and seem to have holes in them..Does it attract snails? What kind of spray do I need to use????
I've seen some damage through the years, but have never investigated enough to figure out what's eating them. Some years they aren't touched at all. Could be snails. I don't use pesticide sprays, so I'm afraid I'm no help there.
|Joan||Apr 07, 2014||Have oyster plant in our back yard, our dog gets horrible red skin and itches when in contact with it, how do we get rid of this plant? thanks.|
That's too bad – it's such a nice plant. I would dig up as much of the roots as you can get to, making sure to get a good ways around the mother plant as well as fairly deep. You probably won't get all of it, but if you treat regrowth with a system herbicide such as Roundup, it will stop coming back soon enough.
|Louise||Sep 08, 2015||I have quite a few of these growing in a sunny hill garden. Some of them I bought at one of your plant sales several years ago and the others have propagated themselves. In prior years there have always been tons of flowers, but this year there are just a few. The plants look fairly lush. Any ideas what I should do for the plants to thrive next year? Thanks.|
Only thing I can think of is that their living space has become more shaded through the years. Also, some plants put out more leafy growth and fewer flowers if fertilized with a high-nitrogen fertilizer. I hope they do their thing as usual for you next year!
|nikki||Jan 13, 2019||hey guys its nice to meet you. right now, its 2019. wow. can you believe that? i came to this website for a science project, but i never expected to find comments from over a decade ago. i hope everyone has a good day, and take care of your plants. God loves you bye bye! :)|
|Marsha ||May 18, 2020||Can you give some more info on an acanthus that has been very robust, now has 3-4 flower spikes, but the leaves are yellowing and new ones are stunted and misshapen. The plant is in the same pot it has been in for 2 or 3 years, and is in a shady spot. |
- Seed from '07 garden. Soaked 1d (discarded a floater), baggy 35F (9w) - 70F (100%G, 3d)
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August 09, 2009