Acanthus 'Summer Beauty'
Summer Beauty Bear's Breech
Item #: 2526
Zones: 6a to 8b, at least
Height: 30" tall
We feel this import by the late Oregon plantsman Chet Tompkins from a gardener in China is the finest acanthus on the market. Where Acanthus mollis fails miserably, Acanthus 'Summer Beauty', a hybrid (probably Acanthus mollis x Acanthus hungaricus), grows well in our hot summers. The 4-6' wide clump of giant, glossy, dark green foliage is much more cutleaf than Acanthus mollis. In summer, the tropical-looking, deer-resistant clumps are topped with 6' tall spikes of white flowers surrounded by wonderful purple calyces...absolutely superb, an industry standard!
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 are 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 'Summer Beauty', 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 Acanthus 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. Acanthus 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