Saturday, April 04, 2009

Early aliens

Gardeners are often warned to avoid Petasites. I've even had a nursery refuse to sell it to me, and I agree I've seen it growing with such vigor I want to either cheer or run. In my garden - so far - it's been willing to spread slowly but seems easily controllable.

I have two kinds. One, sold as Petasites japonicus 'Giganteus' (above), with great round leaves, and another, sold as Petasites hybridus x Dutch (below), with roughly triangular leaves. The flowers of both are in bloom now. They're small, no more than three inches high and less wide, for the Giganteus.

The inflorescence of the 'x Dutch' hybrid is much smaller and strikingly different in appearance. Long blossoming stems will rise from the cone-like flowering body in the next few weeks, then wither as the foliage grows. I have no idea what the Petasites x Dutch was hybridized with, but its flowering behavior is dramatically different from its cousin. The flowering stems are similar in appearance to those of Darmera peltata, so I do wonder if the cross was made with some form of Darmera.

Maybe you know the answer.


  1. Afraid I don't know the answer to the question, but I have long wanted to grow this but I have a very small - tiny in comparison to yours- garden (10'x30')and have been afraid of it devouring everything in it's path..... perhaps I will just admire it here!

  2. I havent come across this plant here in the UK - why do nurseries refuse to sell it?

  3. What an extraordinary plant the last photo is of! Is that the Darmera?

    Hasven't come across either before.

    P.S. - New blog - Esther's Boring Garden Blog

  4. Teza, my heavy earth seems to retard its growth. If it ever starts to get out of control, I'll have to resort to something like Roundup.

    Patientgardener, I don't understand why it isn't available in the UK but perhaps your mild climate (compared to ours) makes it such a rampant grower it's illegal.

    Ester Montgomery, the last photo is the early flower of Petasites hybridus x Dutch (sold to me under that suspect name). I'm speculating it's been hybridized with Darmera, but I don't know.

  5. Amazing plants - Patientgardener - I think the Beth Chatto Nursery sells them in the UK, they have very invasive roots apparently.



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