- Position: full sun or partial shade
- Soil: deep, fertile, well-drained soil
- Rate of growth: fast growing
- Flowering period: May to August
- Hardiness: fully hardy
A fantastic, architectural plant that’s justifiably popular. It is deciduous, and produces enormous, jagged, deep green glossy leaves up to 90cm long in early spring. In mid-summer, spectacular spikes of white flowers with purple hoods shoot up from the foliage and last for several weeks. It thrives best in dappled shade and although it will take full sun, the leaves may scorch. Plant it as a specimen plant in a mixed border, and give it plenty of room to spread itself out. Slugs and snails love this plant, so pick them off regularly.
- Garden care: To minimise the risk of powdery mildew taking hold ensure that the plant is watered well during hot, dry spells. To rejuvenate and minimise congestion, lift and divide large clumps in autumn or spring.
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7 Questions | 7 Answers
Displaying questions 1-7
Q:Please can you tell me the difference between acanthus mollis and spinosus. Thanks.Asked on 9/4/2013 by Looy from Petersfield
Acanthus mollis is more vigorous, growing to about the same height as Acanthus spinosa, but can spread to 1-1.5m wide, with tall racemes of white flowers with dusky purple bracts in late summer. Acanthus spinosa has large, deeply lobed and spine-tipped leaves, growing to approx 90cm wide and has spikes of white flowers with purple hoods earlier in the spring and summer.
Hope this hellpsAnswered on 9/5/2013 by Georgina from Crocus
Q:Can this plant be grown in a pot?Asked on 7/25/2013 by Fliss
As it likes a deep soil, it is happiest when planted in the ground, but it is possible to grow it in a large pot provided it is kept well fed and watered.Answered on 7/25/2013 by Helen from Crocus
Q:Acanthus - 'Bears Breeches'
I bought this plant from you last year and although it is still alive it doesn't grow very big and has never really formed any breeches. What am I doing wrong? Thank youAsked on 4/15/2010 by Lis Wallace
A:Hello There, I am not really sure why your Acanthus is not thriving, although it is worth keeping in mind that they die right back in autumn and wont really have started growing much (if at all) just yet this year. If you planted yours later in the year last year, then this would explain while there has been little growth, but if it was planted in the earlier part of the year then perhaps the plant was concentrating on putting on root growth rather than top growth. They like a spot in full sun or partial shade with deep, fertile, well-drained soil and given time they are quite boisterous, so I would try to improve the growing conditions if you can and hopefully you will see some action soon. I'm sorry not to be more help. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 4/15/2010 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:'Bears Breeches' plant
Hi We bought from you in May or July last year 'Bears Breeches' (Acanthus spinosa) plant, but it has never flowered. The foliage is quite lush and in fact has more leaves starting to grow from the base. We always mulch our perennials in autumn to protect the roots from frost. Why has it not flowered? Hope that you can advise us what to do next!Asked on 8/18/2009 by geri and denis
A:Hello There, There are a number of reasons why plants don't flower including too much shade, not enough water or nutrients, or pruning at the wrong time of the year. It can also be caused by the plant putting on new root growth instead of focusing its energies on producing flowers. I am not really sure why yours has not produced buds, but you can often give them a bit of a push by feeding with a high potash fertiliser. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 8/19/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Good Morning to you, I was wondering if you could give me some advice on how to take cuttings/root division of my Acanthus spinosus. I have a well established plant, and I'm hoping to move within the next year and wanted to take it with me, how would I go about this or taking a root division I look forward to hearing from you GaynorAsked on 7/21/2009 by Gaynor Killick
A:Hello There, These plants can be propagated by either division in spring or autumn or take root cuttings in winter. Division is probably the fastest and easiest. It is best carried out on frost free, dry days when the plant is dormant, normally between late autumn and early spring. Simply lift the parent plant and shake off the excess soil. Separate the plant into sections using two forks or a spade, making sure that each section has a good root system and replant immediately keeping the soil level the same as before. Root cuttings are generally done in winter when the plants are completely dormant. You should select healthy, young roots, preferably at least 5mm in diameter that have been taken close to the crown of the plant. Trim the roots to 5-10cm for the thicker pieces and 7-12cm for the thinner ones, making a straight cut on the end which has come from the near the crown and a slated cut at the furthest end. Remove any fibrous roots and dust with a fungicidal powder. Pop them vertically into pots of compost, with the straight cut end flush with the surface of the compost. The thinner roots you can lay flat in trays and cover with a little compost. They should then have a topdressing of grit or sand. Keep them in a cold frame or propagator and don't water them until they have formed roots. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 7/22/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Acanthus spinosus not flowering?
My Acanthus spinosus sent up 2 spikes last year. This year there have been none.Any suggestions? Many thanks MelanieAsked on 7/7/2009 by mel buchan
A:Hello Melanie, There are a number of reasons why plants don't flower including too much shade or not enough water or nutrients. I am not really sure why yours has not produced buds, but you can often give them a bit of a push by feeding with a high potash fertiliser such as Tomorite.Answered on 7/8/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Q:Why won't my Bear's breeches flower?
It's in a half sunny/half shaded spot and it's leaves seem healthy enough - altough some of them have brown edges - and I've been feeding it. Yet it just won't flower. Any ideas. Thanks, AndreeAsked on 6/22/2009 by Andree Frieze
A:Hello Andree, The most likely cause is either too much shade, or not enough of the right nutrients. To encourage flowering, you can feed it with a high potash fertiliser, which should give it a bit of a push. I hope this helps. Helen Plant DoctorAnswered on 6/22/2009 by Crocus Helpdesk
Displaying questions 1-7