Petasites blooms, emerges

Petasites japonicus is the large-leaved plant that I grow at the edge of my pond. It's probably the single plant that makes the pond so attractive in the late spring and early summer, its 24" (60cm) or larger leaves creating the perfect backdrop to the water.

It's just getting started at this time of year, with blooms that appear around April 1 every year here in St. Louis. This is not a plant that is grown for its flowers, as they're really nothing too exciting and open just an inch or two above ground.


I don't detect any fragrance coming from them, and they're fairly ugly...

...but they do attract the early honey bees:

The more exciting thing to me is the appearance of the foliage though:

At this stage they're tiny replicas of their mature forms, at most 2" (5cm) across. You'd expect large leaves to go through some elaborate unfolding or uncurling, but these just emerge in miniature and enlarge a bit every day.

This plant has a reputation as being a bit aggressive, but has been a slow spreader for me probably because the soil here is fairly dry -- the plant doesn't actually have access to the pond water.

It has spread a couple of feet this year though, which has me thinking about how far I actually want it to go. This is the edge of the area where I'd like to build a small deck, hopefully this year. Looks like I may need to move some stepping stones though...

So the pond will soon have its striking backdrop again. Spring is exciting in so many ways!


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outlawgardener  – (April 3, 2015 at 9:09 AM)  

Petasites is such a great foliage plant and it will slowly spread just about as far as you let it. I have a few different varieties but my favorite produces bloom in January or February here, when even less than gorgeous flowers are welcome. Your green backdrop will be in place again in no time!

Mark and Gaz  – (April 3, 2015 at 4:14 PM)  

Their blooms are rather on the strange side aren't they? Curiosities rather than things of beauty. But the foliage that follows fab, great for a jungle effect too!

danger garden  – (April 4, 2015 at 12:07 AM)  

I love watching leaves emerge a "normal" size and then keep growing and growing.

Hoover Boo  – (April 5, 2015 at 4:40 PM)  

Cool plant--I love it--in your garden. Too thirsty for here. It reminds me of Senecios in that the foliage is great but the flowers weedy.

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