In our hot Houston climate, it’s important to plant shade trees to cool our homes and landscapes. But once those shade trees develop, we may find ourselves struggling to maintain sun-loving plants in a now-shady garden. It can sometimes feel like there aren’t as many options available to us for the shade garden, but here at Buchanan’s we try to make sure you have lots of beautiful options for both sunny and shady gardens. One of our favorite powerhouse perennials for the shade garden is Leopard plant, or Farfugium japonicum (previously named Ligularia sp.)
There are a number of different Farfugium species and cultivars available to home gardeners. We grow them for their beautiful foliage, which can range from small to very large, smooth or glossy and even variegated with splotches of color. Farfugium japonicum ‘Aureo-maculata’ sports bright yellow spots on the leaves, making it easy to see why this plant earned its common name of “Leopard plant’.
The beautiful leaves provide a focal point in the shade garden and add contrast to plants with smaller foliage. If you’ve struggled with Hostas in your garden, Leopard Plant makes for a great substitute and is much easier to grow and maintain. Plants are evergreen in our Houston climate; unless we happen to have a rare drop to below 20 F in winter, and then plants will lose their leaves and re-emerge in spring. As a bonus, plants put on tall spikes of yellow daisy-like blooms in late summer and fall.
Large varieties can make an impressive specimen planted on their own, but we like to clump them in clusters of three to five plants. Generally, Leopard Plant grows to two feet tall and wide; three feet tall when in bloom. While they can tolerate some direct morning sun or dappled sun through the day, you’ll want to make sure to provide a spot that is shaded in the afternoon. Leopard Plants prefer a moist but well-draining soil; no soggy soil or irrigation leaks!
Be sure to stop by soon to pick up your Leopard plants this week; while you’re here, be sure to also pick up natural Mosquito control products to keep your July 4th celebrations comfortable and Mosquito free!