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.
Hardiness level Green