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Pseudopanax arboreus (Five Finger)

Another plant for the metropolitan horticultural arriviste. i.e. if you live in a big city (where it’s always warmer) and you feel a need to have a plant in your garden that you can be pretty sure no-one else in your street has one. Very rare and does magnificently in London. Evergreen, growing to 20ft after 15 years, with clusters of purpley-white flowers in summer. Its common name, ‘Five Finger’, is self explanatory but confusingly and occasionallly it should be ‘Seven Finger’.

In common with all Pseudopanax, it will survive happily in a pot for longer than most. This is probably associated with the fact that many of these can be found as epiphytes in their native New Zealand – or ‘Perching Plants’ as they call them there. These are plants growing in large trees merely surviving from whatever food and moisture they can gather from the mother plant.

It likes reasonably well drained and rich soil, but its tolerant of many different positions. Well known in its native New Zealand. We know it likes growing in London.

James Fraser (King , Emperor and Prince of all things horticultural and New Zealandish) is a massive exponent of this little tree as a part of an exotic urban garden as it fits so perfectly. He reluctantly admits that it actually grows much better in his garden in South-East London than in his garden in Wellington.

‘By seed’.

N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.

As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.

Hardiness traffic light green

Hardiness level Red

Find out more

Hardy in Atlantic Seaboard gardens, The Channel Islands, gardens in Central London (and other large cities) and conservatories.

This is only meant as a guide; there are some plants with red labels that would only survive in extremely favoured spots such as The Isles of Scilly or coastal south-west Ireland.

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.