Spikey, dreamy, cool

Although I'm excited about so many things in the garden this year -- bamboos getting bigger, new varieties of tomatoes I'm trying, new plants that I received from trades -- there are a few plants that have me the most excited. Somewhere near the top of the list is this one.

It's the Gunnera manicata I received in a trade a couple of months ago. The leaves will eventually reach huge sizes, but even now while they are less than 6" (15cm) across the plant is intriguing. I can't help but stop and look at it every time I walk past.


It doesn't look inviting in any way. This isn't a plant you want to walk up to and stroke lovingly like you would with lamb's ear or some other fuzzy, friendly plant.

Actually, you do want to walk up and touch these leaves, but you delay for a moment before you do. It surely doesn't look like something you'd want to get too close to. But you'll find out that the spikes are really not dangerous, and can be touched.

The leaves are thick and very rough -- quite tactile, but not in a soft, gentle way.

I love the way these look when a  bit out of focus. Very dreamy -- or should I say nightmarish?

I've just realized that I may have a problem.

I've got this growing in a medium-sized nursery container right now, and am planning on putting it in a large container later this week, where it will live for a couple of months at least. My thoughts were to then get it into the ground near my yet-to-be-dug pond.

Although I'm not certain that the pond project will happen this year (it's near the top of my list though) so this plant might not have a permanent place by the time cold weather rolls around, that's not what I'm concerned about.

If I put this in a large pot and it starts putting out spikey leaves that are a couple of feet across -- the big, magnificent plant I envision -- how the heck am I going to get it out of the pot and into the ground later? Hmmm, I'll need to think about this a little bit.

But I'm going to enjoy this cool spikey plant while I do!


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Steve Lau  – (May 23, 2011 at 9:10 AM)  

6 inches is surprisingly small, but they do keep growing until the first frost. Over the past 2 week, my main gunnera has leaped from 6 inches to around 20 inches while the division went form 3 inches to nearly 12 inches and both are sending up a flower head. They should keep gaining size from leaf to leaf, but I'll post a blog on mine once the flowers bloom. The initial leaves on my ground plant are over 1 inch in diameter, and taking forever to fully unfold.

Janet  – (May 23, 2011 at 9:17 AM)  

I remember seeing thse magnificent plants in all there glory a few years back in Cornwall. They were like giant umbrellas. We have a smallish one. Have you come across it's little brother gunnera magillinica? Equally beautiful it makes great ground cover.

Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (May 23, 2011 at 9:46 AM)  

This is one plant I've always wanted to try but our summers are just too hot and dry. Even our rhubarb, which has huge leaves in the spring, wilts and goes dormant. But I look forward to seeing how your gunnera develops.

:: Bamboo and More ::

Alan  – (May 23, 2011 at 10:00 AM)  

Steve, so when you got your original division, its first leaves were bigger than 6"? The pot it's in right now is probably too small, but I'll fix that soon.

Steve Lau  – (May 23, 2011 at 10:41 AM)  

Yea, I think it was around 5-6 inch leaves when I got it in a 1 gallon pot 3 years ago, but it quickly got up to 1ft diameter leaves in a couple months, and ended up near 2ft in diameter for its 1st year. This is how it looked like by July 23, 2008. http://www.flickr.com/photos/31489820@N02/2949676845/sizes/l/in/photostream/

It's already bigger than that right now, and the 1st leaf isn't even close to fully grown so maybe I'll get 3-4ft leaves this year.

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