Acanthus mollis 'Wofford Rhubarb'
Wofford Rhubarb Bear's Breech
Item #: 10006
Zones: 7a to 10b, at least
Height: 24" tall
Origin: Northern Africa, Southern Europe
Acanthus 'Wofford Rhubarb' is a 2017 Plant Delights/JLBG introduction of an exceptional bear's breech, that has grown at South Carolina's Wofford College since the Civil War, when it was reportedly planted by the college's founder, Benjamin Wofford. Not only does it have incredible cinnamon red, rhubarb-like stems, but it's also exceptionally good in our hot, humid summers. In our garden, Acanthus mollis 'Wofford Rhubarb' has formed a 2' tall x 3' wide clump of scalloped, glossy green leaves. Thanks to Wofford descendant, Charlie Wofford for sharing.
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, they can be left alone to get better with each passing year.
Part day sun to very bright shade is best for Acanthus 'Wofford Rhubarb', Acanthus spinossus, and similar Acanthus species 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. Bear's breech 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. The bright red leaf stalks of Acanthus mollis 'Wofford Rhubarb' are an additional ornamental asset, adding color to the shade garden.
Leaf Color: Green
Bloom Time: Spring
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