Acanthus mollis Reut, Israel
Kosher Bear's Breech
Item #: 9811
Zones: 7a to 10b, at least
Height: 24" tall
Origin: Mediterranean Europe
In 2011, while Israeli nurseryman Moti Kopilovitch was visiting and discussing our acanthus selections, we explained that most of the Acanthus mollis we tried did not survive our hot, humid summers. Moti was kind enough to share seed of a form of bear's breech that thrives in Israel's hot climate (Zone 10-11), and it became a 2012 Plant Delights/JLBG introduction. Acanthus mollis makes a 2' tall x 3' wide clump of broad, glossy-green, deeply indented leaves which go into a midsummer lull but kick back into high gear with the return of cooler nights. The clumps are topped with 4' tall spikes of spiny purple and white flowers. Bear's breech is propagated from root cuttings, so if you dig around a mature acanthus, you will create cuttings. Acanthus mollis was named as one of the top 200 plants of the last 200 years by the Royal Horticultural Society...quite an honor.
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. The foliage is attractive most of the year especially if there is adequate moisture in summer. It 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, it can be left alone to get better with each passing year.
Part day sun to very bright shade is best for 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.
The floral display of bear's breech is very dramatic. Flower spikes can be 5 to 6' tall depending on the particular species 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. It 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.
Leaf Color: Green
Bloom Time: Spring
Other: Cut Flower Plants , Deer Resistant Plants , Drought Tolerant Plants , Dry Shade Plants , Pollinator Plants , Plant Delights Introductions , Plants Named After Animals , Rabbit Resistant Plants , Tropical Looking Plants