Plant Profile: Acanthus mollis

Scott, I see your ‘Autumn Joy’ and I raise you an Acanthus mollis! I have a love hate relationship with this plant but I’m including it here because we are debating whether to use it in a design today.

When it’s on, it looks great, but it is summer dormant in Sydney so that can mean anytime from Christmas through to March you can have bare patches in your garden. I have mature clumps in a garden that behave differently each year depending on rainfall and temperature so it’s important how much and where you use it in a plant mix. Clipped shrubs can act as a foil and Liriope will withstand its winter-spring rampage to a point. Or if your garden is big enough to take a walk through it looks incredible en masse under a big tree.

Acanthus_mollis_Prague_2013_3Too much shade and it will grow limp and look pathetic. Filtered light under trees is ideal and it will take some full sun in the morning, even if it droops under the pressure for a couple of hours it will perk up when the sun moves on.