Acanthus 'Morning Candle'
Morning Candle Bear's Breech
Item #: 8933
Zones: 6a to 8b, at least
Height: 24" tall
Acanthus 'Morning Candle' is a splendid free-flowering selection of bear's breech, from Holland's Dirk de Winter of New Generation Plants that is reportedly a hybrid of Acanthus spinosus and Acanthus mollis. Unfortunately, most growers wouldn't know true Acanthus spinosus if it stuck 'em in the rear. We think this is more likely an Acanthus hungaricus x Acanthus mollis hybrid. For us, the 3' wide clump of deeply-scalloped green leaves has performed extremely well despite several weeks above 100 degrees F. The compact, deer-resistant clumps are topped, starting in early May (NC), with up to a dozen, 4'+ tall flower spikes of purple and white hooded flowers...very nice! We've found Acanthus 'Morning Candle' to still be free-flowering, despite all the recent EU austerity measures.
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. 'Morning Candle' 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 'Morning Candle', 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 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. 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