Plant Profile: Arundo donax 'Peppermint Stick'

Plant Profile: Arundo donax 'Peppermint Stick'

with Tony Avent

By Published November 21, 2022

Shop for Arundo at Plant Delights Nursery

What an amazing statement plant! Unlike the Arundo donax 'Versicolor,' 'Peppermint Stick' does not loose it's variegation in summer. It is also not invasive, despite what the internet might say. The plant is sterile (does not produce viable seed), and it does not run. It does get big - 12 feet tall and 20 feet across in 10 years. Arundo donax is deciduous in our zone 7b, meaning it dies back to the ground in winter. It grows to it's amazing height during summer and in the fall the giant clump is topped with 18" tall bronze plumes. Arundo donax is deer resistant and tolerant of both average and semi aquatic soil conditions. Choose a full sun spot for best results.

Video Transcript

One of the most spectacular ornamental grasses that we grow is looking really great today. This is Arundo donax 'Peppermint Stick'. It’s an amazing, amazing. It's a European grass that is just ... it looks pretty incredible. Now you need a big space for this because this is easily 12 feet tall and that's probably 20 feet wide now. So, you don't want to put this in a small area but if you've got a neighbor that's got some junky cars or a tool shed that looks like crap, this is your plant. Now, it is deciduous. It drops it's leaves in the fall. Think of this as a variegated corn on steroids, except it's perennial. But really an amazing plant, this is not even in flower yet. It'll be flowering in another month, and it has beautiful, purple-pink plumes atop the foliage, which is quite incredible. The species itself has been used for years to make something that many of us know. This is used to make the reeds for wind instruments. So, if you've ever played the clarinet, your reed probably came from an Arundo donax. It's an amazing grass.

Now sadly, I see this grass on a few invasive species lists, made by people who don't know what invasive species actually are. For a species to be invasive, number one, it has to seed all around and invade functioning naturally occurring ecosystems. Number 1, this plant is sterile! It couldn't produce a viable seed if it needed to. Number 2, it cannot run. That is one plant. This is probably over a decade old. It makes a big clump, but it does not run. So, forget what you read. But you've got to be very careful with these lists. This is not invasive; it is big in the garden. Now, the most common clones are a variegated one that turns green in the summer, called Versicolor. And up until about 15 years ago, that was all we had. And this one was brought in from the UK, Peppermint Stick is absolutely amazing. If you've got enough room, and again you really want to screen off something, pretty darn amazing plant and I hope you'll give this a try. Moisture, and it really likes full sun to shine. It will grow in... it's a marginal aquatic. Here we have it growing in bone dry gravely soil at the edge of our parking lot. So, it has a wide range as long as you don't put in shade, you're going to be very happy with it. I hope you'll give this wonderful plant a try.

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