Acanthus 'Holland Days'

Holland Days Bear's Breech

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Item #: 110

Zones: 6a to 10b

Dormancy: Winter

Height: 24" tall

Culture: Part Sun to Light Shade

Origin: Hybrid

Pot Size: 3.5" pot (24 fl. oz/0.7 L)

This delightfully saucy acanthus has paraded in the trade for years as Acanthus spinosus, but is nothing like that species...i.e., it's missing the spines. It appears perfectly intermediate between Acanthus hungaricus and Acanthus spinosus and is probably a hybrid, hence we have assigned a cultivar name commemorating its widespread culture in Holland under the wrong name. The 1' tall x 2' wide mass of deeply incised, black-green, deer-resistant leaves makes a wonderful clump topped in late spring with 2' tall spikes of white flowers hidden by spiny purple hoods. Sunny, slightly acid to alkaline conditions are best and be aware that unlike vasectomies, cutting the translocation system (roots) causes more babies.


Acanthus require little in the way of maintenance. Remove spent flower stalks when they are no longer attractive, cutting them to the ground. Remove unattractive foliage as necessary. They foliage is attractive most of the year especially if there is adequate moisture in summer. Bear's Breach is very drought tolerant but will deal with drought in summer by going dormant, returning in fall as soil moisture increases. So, irrigation in summer time dry spells will keep it in growth. Some species will continue to grow into late fall or winter if the weather remains mild, eventually being cut back by cold. The plants are not harmed by this enforced rest. They will return in spring unfazed.

It is best to choose a permanent location when planting. They tolerate transplanting but every piece of root left behind will grow a new plant. Indeed root-cuttings is a standard means of propagating. Once planted, they can be left alone to get better with each passing year.

Growing Conditions:

Part day sun to very bright shade is best for Acanthus 'Holland Days', Acanthus mollis, Acanthus spinossus, and similar Acanthus with lush soft leaves. Though drought tolerant, they will remain attractive all summer if not drought stressed, so avoid excessively dry sites, and irrigate if possible during dry spells. Remember that shade gardens are often dry due to the trees that provide the shade if the trees are ones that are very competitive in their water use.

Natural Impact:

The floral display of bear's breech is very dramatic. Flower spikes can be 5 to 6' tall depending on the particular variety and are strongly vertical and persist for a couple of months. The effect is much like strictly upright spikes of the common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea. Bear's breach would be worth growing even without its floral display because its handsome foliage is big, bold and lush and a glossy mid green and is an attractive addition to a garden.