Garden

Acanthus


Acanthus


Plant much appreciated for its high ornamental value, it is cultivated for its large decorative leaves and for its wonderful spike inflorescence. The acanthus is present in many gardens both as an isolated plant and in groups, together with other plants with supple foliage, or with flowering plants. It stands out for its majestic beauty, for its vigor and for the great spike-like inflorescence that stands out and stands out on other plants, for example in the borders, on lawns or in rocky gardens. It is also possible to grow it under very large plants, in places where few other plants would grow, for example under a pine, an oak tree, or near a laurel or rosemary plant.
Acanthus is a plant native to the Mediterranean regions, which grows up to altitudes of 300 m, even spontaneously. It prefers places where the soil always retains a certain humidity (near water courses or at the edge of the woods).

General characteristics of the acanthus


The acanthus is an extremely vigorous plant with leaves of a beautiful glossy green color, serrated, with a long stem, which can reach up to one meter in length and almost as wide.
The leaves they form a thick bush on which stand the beautiful spike inflorescences that exceed the leaves by more than a meter: the plant can therefore reach even 2 meters in height. Flowering occurs in the summer period, and the flowers, very numerous, have colors ranging from white to pink, to mauve, with purple edges.
The long inflorescences they are used both fresh and dried for flower bouquets or floral decorations. If you intend to cut off the inflorescences, be careful not to damage the stems: equip yourself with sharp scissors, avoiding tearing or fraying the plant tissues. If you prefer to use dried flowers, you can also let them dry on the plant.
It belongs to the family of the acanthacee, which includes about thirty different species; among the most widespread there are acanthus with soft leaves and spiny acanthus.





















































Acanthus in a nutshell
Family Acanthaceae
Gender Acanthus
Type of plant From flowers, decorative, and cut flowers
Origin Mediterranean basin and Asia Minor
Vegetation Lively
Foliage Persistent in the southern regions, semi-persistent in the others
Habit Clustered
Use Plant isolated or in groups
Height at maturity From 0.30 m to 2 m with inflorescences
Growth rate slow
Diseases and pests Oidium, snails and slugs
Temperature It does not tolerate prolonged periods of cold or frost

Variety of Acanthus



Acanthus with soft leaves (acanthus mollis)
Plant that reaches even 2 m in height, it has large lobed leaves of a bright green that can reach up to 1 m in length. The leaves are persistent in regions with mild climate, instead they fall in areas with a colder climate. It carries large clusters of white flowers with purple streaks that bloom between June and August. It prefers a rich and well-drained soil.
Spiny acanthus (acanthus spinosus)
The plant has a height between 0, 60 m and 1.5 m. With large leaves engraved up to the central rib, and by the thorny tip. Much used together with other plants. The spike inflorescences are large, and the white, mauve and pink flowers bloom between May and August. It also bears very low temperatures, below zero. It grows in all types of soil, but it is advisable to plant it in rich and drained soil.

How to grow acanthus


Cultivation is very easy, since it is an undemanding plant that resists even in particularly sunny and dry places. It prefers drained soils where it forms large bushes over the years, as it is a slow-growing plant.
To ensure that the leaves remain beautiful for longer, it is advisable to water the plant more frequently in the summer, while in winter the frequency and quantity of water must be reduced. In winter, the acanthus can also withstand the cold, as long as it does not last too long. In regions with a harsher climate, it will lose its leaves, which will reappear in the spring. In these regions, it is advisable to protect the roots from frosts by covering them with a dry leaf or straw mulch.









































The cultivation of acanthus
Cultivation Easy
Maintenance Limited
Exposure Sun or partial shade in the southern regions
Ground Drained, rich in humus
Cleaning / Pruning Lively
Water needs poor
Soil moisture light
Composting Spring-summer period once a month
Multiplication Sowing, cutting, division of the heads

How and when to plant the acanthus



It is advisable to plant the acanthus in spring, between April and May, when there is no longer the risk of frost. Be careful not to damage the roots as the acanthus reacts badly to damage. Prepare the soil by placing compost and sand, especially if the soil is quite heavy. Gently take the seedlings from the pots taking care not to damage them in any way because the acanthus is a plant that bears badly the transplant or the repotting.
Dig a hole in the ground slightly larger than the map and place the map. Water it until the first signs of the rooting are evident. Place the plants at least 80 cm-1 m apart from each other so that there is enough space between them; in fact the robust roots of the plant need a lot of space to grow. While, later, it will be sufficient to water the plant only in particularly dry periods.

















The acanthus calendar

Sowing

April May
Planting April May
Flowering June July August

How to grow acanthus



Cultivation is very easy, since it is an undemanding plant that resists even in particularly sunny and dry places. It prefers drained soils where it forms large bushes over the years, as it is a slow-growing plant.
To ensure that the leaves remain beautiful for longer, it is advisable to water the plant more frequently in the summer, while in winter the frequency and quantity of water must be reduced. In winter, the acanthus can also withstand the cold, as long as it does not last too long. In regions with a harsher climate, it will lose its leaves, which will reappear in the spring. In these regions, it is advisable to protect the roots from frosts by covering them with a dry leaf or straw mulch.

Acanthus display


The acanthus prefers sun exposure, but in regions with hot and dry climates it is preferable to place it in partial shade, for example near a large tree. Be careful not to plant it in a too ventilated place.


Temperature



Acanthus is a plant that tolerates periods of heat or drought, but is very sensitive to cold, and especially to frost. Therefore, if it is grown in pots, in winter it is advisable to move it to a place protected from wind and frost. If it is kept in the garden, it is necessary to protect the roots with mulch. In colder areas, the acanthus plant loses its leaves in winter.


Acanthus soil and fertilization


The acanthus adapts to any type of soil as long as it is well drained; but prefers slightly calcareous soils, which remain fresh in the summer. If the soil is heavy, it is advisable to add sand to avoid water stagnation. Furthermore, the soil can be enriched with organic substances, such as manure or compost.
Composting
If the soil is poor in organic matter, in spring it is recommended to add compost or manure. Furthermore, during the vegetative growth period (spring and summer), once a month dilute the liquid fertilizer in the water of the watering.


Acanto pruning



The acanthus plant does not require pruning. It is sufficient to remove the leaves when they turn yellow and the inflorescences after flowering. In winter, it is advisable to leave the withered leaves on the ground so that they protect the roots from the cold.


Propagate the acanthus


The propagation of the acanthus can be carried out by sowing, cutting or dividing the heads.
For sowing
The sowing usually occurs spontaneously, when the seeds fall on the ground from spike inflorescences giving life to new shoots. If it does not occur spontaneously, you can spread the seeds in the ground in April, if you live in a warm region, otherwise wait for the month of May. To see the first flowers, you will have to wait 3 years.
For cutting
In spring, take cuttings about 10 cm long. Cut the branch obliquely with a sharp tool to prevent it from getting damaged. Leave the leaves placed higher up and plant them in a small pot in a soil composed of peat and sand. Insert the cuttings and press the soil around the cuttings.
By division of the tufts
The multiplication by division of the tufts is carried out in autumn or winter, but it is not a very recommended procedure, since the acanthus is a very sensitive plant and could be damaged.

Pests and diseases


Acanthus is a plant rather resistant to diseases. It is possible, however, that due to excessive humidity the leaves are damaged by oidium, a fungus that causes the appearance of a whitish patina on the leaves. If you feel the presence of powdery mildew, remove the leaves and cure the plant with sulfur or other fungicides.
Another possible problem is represented by slugs and snails that can ruin the leaves. Eliminate the damaged parts of the plant and remove the animals.

Tips



If you intend to recover the seeds from the flowers of the acanthus, do it in autumn, before the capsules containing the seeds open. To preserve the seeds, leave only an inflorescence so that the plant does not consume too much energy for the maturation of the seeds of the different inflorescences.
If you intend to use the inflorescences in bouquets of dried flowers, let them dry and collect them at the end of the day, when the plant is dry. Cut the inflorescences to a different length so that they are not damaged in the bouquet. To finish drying, hang them upside down, in a dark, dry and airy room. Cover them with a newspaper so that they do not catch dust during the drying phase.

CuriositŠ°


Acanthus leaves are a widespread ornamental motif that is present as a decorative element in friezes, paintings, pictorial decorations and in various pieces of furniture. But the image to which the acanthus leaf is linked and the most famous is that of the Corinthian capitals, in which appear the beautiful leaves with jagged margins and falling down outside.