Acanthus, a beautiful flower for flower beds


Acanthus is a Mediterranean plant that boasts magnificent blooming all summer long.

Acanthus key facts

Name – Acanthus
Family – Acanthaceae
Type – rhizome perennial

Height – 3 to 6 ½ feet (1 to 2 meters)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – rich and well drained

Foliage – semi-evergreen, depending on the climate
Flowering – summer

Its large pink, purple or white panicles are perfect for filling in a flower bed. Care, pruning and planting must all follow good practices to have your acanthus bear very nice flowers.

How to plant Acanthus

Planting acanthusFavor planting your Acanthus in spring or in fall taking great care to enrich the soil with soil mix and possibly sand in case of heavy soil or clay.

  • Select the location well before planting, because acanthus don’t like being transplanted.
  • Also favor a sunny exposure with light shade during the hottest hours.
  • Keep a distance of about 24 inches (60 cm) between specimens so that the acanthus may have enough space to grow.

Multiplying Acanthus

Acanthus propagationAcanthus is a type of plant that is quite easily propagated by sowing seeds or preparing cuttings from its roots.

  • Propagation through root cuttings is relatively easy in fall or at the end of winter.
  • This renews vigor in older growing clumps.
  • Propagation through sowing seeds is done in spring.

When an Acanthus is propagated, it will need 2 to 3 years before blooming again, so it’s perfectly normal if your acanthus doesn’t bloom yet.

Pruning and caring for acanthus

Acanthus careCut wilted flowers off as they die, this favors the appearance of new buds. It’s a form of deadheading:

No need to pick the many flowers in the column one by one: they’ll all dry out at the same time. When petals have turned brown, cut the entire stem off.

If you let them be, your acanthus will produce seeds and self-sow for the following spring.

In fall, once the foliage has wilted away, cut back as short as you can in November, and protect the foot of the plant with dried leaf mulch for instance.

In areas with mild climates, it’s possible to simply leave your acanthus alone without any type of protection.

Diseases commonly found on Acanthus

Although acanthus generally resists diseases well, one can nonetheless encounter powdery mildew as a major opponent, as well as slugs and snails that love to nestle between the stalks.

All there is to know about Acanthus

Landscaping with acanthusAcanthus, the symbol of eternal love, with the curious common name “bear’s breeches”, is native to Africa, Asia and Southern Europe.

It numbers about thirty species which makes for a significant variety of colors, flowers and leaves.

It bears magnificent floral scapes that grow to over 6 ½ feet (2 meters) in height, and they definitely stand out with their original shape.

Smart tip about Acanthus

To stimulate this magnificent blooming, regularly add organic liquid fertilizer designed for geraniums or flowering plants.

Image credits (edits Gaspard Lorthiois):
CC BY-NC-ND 2.0: Melinda Young, Francesca Tronchin/Alyson Gill