Sunday, November 24, 2013

Word For The Day Was......

Over the past few months I have been working several events with my fellow Master Gardeners. At many of them we were selling books and plants to raise money for the association. At each event the word of the day was....Farfugium!
Pronounced just like it looks.....Far-Fu-Gee-Um
No, this is not some kind of foreign curse word or a kind of exotic food dish.
Botanically it is known as Farfugium japonicum. It also goes by the common names of "Leopard Plant", "Green Leopard Plant",and "Ligularia". The running joke among ourselves was "It looks like Dollar Weed on STEROIDS"!! See for yourself:

Here in the South, we tend to be jealous of our northern counterparts that can grow Hostas. Between hot humid Summers and our mild Winters, hostas in the South are sad at best and downright miserable in general.
This could very well be our answer.
They will survive in Zones 7-10 and may go as far north as Zone 6 if grown in a protected area. Temperatures below 30 may kill them back, they are quick to recover once the Spring time temperatures return. Places farther north can very easily grow these in a container and protect them inside during the Winter.
Containers should be placed in part shade to almost full shade locations with protection from strong winds. 
Which corresponds with their outside growing preferences. This plant prefers partial shade. Protect from midday sun or it will tend to wilt every day in Summer.
Being that this is a shade plant, you can probably guess that it likes a moist, woodsy, type of environment. You would be correct! It does not tolerate wet, soggy situations however. Drainage is a must. If need be it can be grown in a drier area as long as there is a good layer of mulch.

The leaves can be anywhere from 4-10 inches across. They come in rounded or kidney shaped with wavy or toothed margins. Average mature height and width is around 2 feet. They spread by shallow rhizomes.
There are a number of different cultivars available and not just green either!
The cultivar 'Argenteum' (a.k.a. 'Albovariegatum') has leaves mottled with irregular creamy white margins.

Then there is the "True Leopard Plant"  'Aureomaculata', has random yellow spots all over the leaves.

'Crispula' or 'Crispata', sometimes called "Parsley Ligularia", has ruffled leaves.

Now I know that there are not near as many varieties, colors, styles and such as the Hoastas, but these are pretty cool huh?
Well there is one more interesting aspect to these shade lovers....They Flower!!
 Daisy-like, yellow flowers that are 1-2 inches across,  bloom on top of thick, mostly leafless, stalks that rise  up to two and a half feet above the foliage in late Summer to Fall. 

When it comes to problems, there are very few. Deer do not seem to bother them, however,  Slugs and Snails can significantly damage the foliage. A little beer or slug bait can handle this. Occasionally you will get some Whitefly or Mealybugs, again some insecticidal soap will deal with these. There are no serious disease problems.
 Propagation is usually done by dividing the clumps in the Spring or by planting the seed.
In the Spring you can also give them a shot of your favorite slow release fertilizer, then forget about feeding them until next year.
So, how is that for a relatively carefree plant?
I urge you try growing some Farfugium, especially if you have a tough, shaded area that just does not seem hospitable to anything else.
We had a heck of a time keeping these plants in stock at all the events. Despite numerous deliveries, we just could not get enough of the Word For The Day......FARFUGIUM!!
Happy Growing!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Here is a GREAT thing going on in the Charleston, SC area February 22, 2014. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. Fruitmania Garden School 2/22/14 on Square Market Happy Growing! Darren