Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tetrapanax papyrifer, my favorite plant in the garden…this week.

Coming home from a dog walk I realized that finally it had happened. This was always what I’d envisioned when I’d planted a Tetrapanax in this corner...

They were going great a few years ago but then were knocked back by a tough winter. That resulted in what was two trunks becoming five, so although I had to wait for them to achieve the desired height it wasn’t all bad.

I fondly remember a conversation I had with a nursery person a couple of years ago. I can’t remember how we got on the subject of Tetrapanx but she said “well, really they aren’t what I think of as plants appropriate for front yard”…I couldn’t disagree more, why would you want to hide these plants in the back garden? (well actually you should plant some there too) I love watching people walk by an look at them like they aren’t quite sure what the heck they are.

The stats:
  • Hardy in zones 8 – 11
  • Can reach an eventual size of 20ft tall and 15ft wide (I imagine they’re including every possible runner in that width)
  • Likes part sun to part shade, although these are in what I consider to be full sun
  • Likes well drained rich soil with even moisture, although I find them to be fairly drought tolerant

A couple of drawbacks:
The stems and bottom of the leaves is covered with an indumentum which can be a lung irritant to some people. While I have never had a problem when working near them I can say you should never look up while cutting off a leaf above you. The indumentum will fall into your eyes, nose, throat and create quite the painful situation.

Also this plant can send out runners that show up several feet away. This scares many people but I must say they are very easily removed (or moved)...this is no nasty Bishops Weed! I’ve currently got three babies I’m letting grow on to a respectable size before transplanting and gifting to a couple of friends. Plants you like which make more (free!) plants you like is not a bad thing!

As for the blooms they tend to get too late of a start in my climate to do anything before a hard frost cuts them back. Here’s the closest I’ve come to seeing blooms on a different plant (in the back garden) last winter…

By the way few people have mentioned my weekly favorite plant feature could easily become an internet meme for us garden bloggers (like the popular Garden Bloggers Bloomday). I would love it if you were inspired to post about a favorite plant in your garden weekly or monthly. This feature began because I’d notice how good a certain plant was looking and I wanted an excuse to talk about it, to introduce others to it. Isn’t that the best part of visiting a garden, discovering “new to you” plants? So if you’ve at all been tempted to do a similar post then please do it! I’m excited to learn what you're excited about in your garden!

All material © 2009-2013 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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