Saturday, June 9, 2012


Podophyllum Pleianthum Short Form

Podophyllum Pleianthum Flower

Podophyllum "Kaleidescope"

Podophyllum Delavayi

Podphyllum Pleianthum Large Form
     Some of my favorite shade plants are the podophyllums.  I remember when I first saw these growing in the display garden at Heronswood--They were enough to make us stop in our tracks and say "Whoa!  What is that?"  At that time they were just being made available to gardeners here and one basically had to get down on bended knee and beg the nurserymen who had them to sell you one. If they deemed you worthy they would, otherwise you just had to wait.
     How times have changed! Now they are relatively easily available, and they grow so well in my garden that the next thing you know they will be on the noxious weed list. All of the above shown podophyllums like the same conditions and all are equally easy to grow, so the main consideration in choosing one is the leaf shape and coloration and the ultimate size of the plant. The first picture above, that of Podophyllum pleianthum short form, is one I got from Heronswood many years ago. It is only a foot to a foot and a half tall and the leaves are very shiny.  I like it quite a bit because it is a nice and neat plant.  The Podophyllum pleianthum large form was also from Heronswood, and it may have been labeled as a Podophyllum cross or just as a large form, I don't remember which.  In any event, it is about 3 or 4 feet tall and the leaves are one to two feet across. The leaves on this one are matte and not shiny like the short form.  Podophyllum delavayi is my favorite of the lot-- each seedling has slightly different markings on the leaves.  Kaleidescope is a clone that was introduced and named by Terra Nova Nurseries, a large tissue culture and wholesale nursery in Canby, Oregon. Because it is a Terra Nova plant, many nurseries carry it.
     All these podophyllums are shade plants and they all appreciate rich moist soil, but the great thing is that they can grow quite well, thank you very much, even if those conditions are not exactly met.  I have grown them in basically full sun and they have done just fine; I have grown them in the darkest shade and they have done just fine; and I have grown them near the base of our native willow which was a very dry location and they did just fine.  Indeed, I have them all over my garden in varying conditions and they all do well.
     These plants' natural growing habit is to form colonies over time. This is evident from the pictures I have posted. Some of them are taking over large areas of the garden, although they do it in a polite way, unlike some invasive plants like petasites.  I once tried to dig up the colony of the Large Form pictured above. You can see that I did not succeed.  Apparently, podphyllum will grow from root cuttings, so if you try to dig one up and leave any roots behind, new plants will grow from those roots.
     These plants have also self sowed in the garden, albeit in a restrained way. They grow easily from the seed which is contained in fruit like capsules.  If these are left on the ground all winter and then squashed open to reveal the seed, and those seeds then pressed into the soil, you will soon have baby podophyllums.
     Podophyllums are available from Far Reaches FarmCistus Nursery, and Keeping It Green Nursery.

No comments:

Post a Comment