Acanthus mollis - (Big Spinach)
Bright green, leafy perennial, fully hardy and evergreen in mild areas. Will grow to about 3-4ft tall and across. Easy plant to cultivate. Acanthus will grow in sun or shade. It'll flower more in the sun but the leaves will look bigger and darker and shinier in the shade. The tall spikes (6ft ish) of purple-hooded white flowers appear in high summer. The carved leafy bits so characteristic of the capitals on Corinthian columns are they. Not surprising really as Acanthus grows everywhere around Corinth and evidently did 2500 years ago too.
Removal of old flowers and leaves (anything unsightly) is a great help - especially in winter. Severe frost (-4°c or below) will give the leaves a look that could be described as both glazed and floppy. It can look terminal but it's not. They recover wonderfully well as soon as the temperature rises.
PLEASE NOTE : this plant is occasionally susceptible to powdery mildew, an endemic air-born fungus. It's easy to treat and we suggest the following action can be taken if you see the white powdery residue on the leaves. Remove as much of the affected parts as possible; clean up thoroughly and remove all rubbish from the area; spray with a general purpose ready to use systemic fungicide - one that contains myclobutanil - such as Fungus Fighter. Easy to cure. Alternatively, just remove ALL affected leaves and burn them.
IF IT HAS A GREEN TRAFFIC LIGHT
Hardy anywhere in Britain below approximately 1000ft (300m)
This is only meant as a guide. Please remember we're always on hand to give advice about plants and their frost hardiness.
Please remember that these coloured labels are only a rough guide.
General Point about Plant Hardiness: The commonly held belief that it's better to 'plant small' is perfectly true with herbaceous plants, but not necessarily true with woody plants. They need some 'wood' on them to survive severe cold - so plants of marginal hardiness in very cold areas should really be planted LARGER, rather than smaller, wherever possible.
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