Thursday, May 1, 2014

My favorite plant this week: Arthropodium cirratum

Arthropodium cirratum, also known as Renga Lily and New Zealand Rock Lily, is actually one of my favorite plants of all time.  It did well in my former, shady garden and, when we moved, I  immediately regretted my failure to dig it up and bring it with us.  I mail-ordered another from Annie's Annuals & Perennials, then another, and then a few more.  I've divided it too and now have it in four separate areas of my garden.

One of 2 Arthropodium cirratum sited in the partial shade of the bed outside our living room windows

The other plant in the same bed



These plants have done well everywhere I've put them.  They even grew well and flowered in poor soil under the hot, dry conditions of our back slope.  I eventually dug those 3 plants up, divided them, and moved them to serve as groundcovers in dry shade conditions under trees; however, as even Agave attenuata are struggling to establish on that slope, I have to give the Renga Lilies an A for effort.

This is one of the plants I divided last year, now planted in dry shade under an Arbutus - other than some snail damage, it's adapted well, although I'm not sure it'll bloom this year



Although the plants can tolerate nearly full sun, I think they do best with morning sun and afternoon shade.  Two of these plants sit in my sunny side yard next to Acanthus mollis 'Summer Beauty' but I didn't intentionally place them in full sun.  I added them when the 60 foot Eucalyptus tree was still in place in the adjacent bed, providing shade.  I've left them there because I think they look good with the Acanthus but, by comparison with the plants grown in more shade, the foliage is sun-bleached.  Despite the somewhat challenging conditions, the plants are huge and loaded with flower spikes.

The foliage of the Renga Lily in the sunny bed here is more chartreuse in color but the plant appears healthy



In my garden, the flowers appear in spring.  The flower spikes appear en masse but take their time to open.  The six-petal white flowers have pinkish purple and yellow stamens.  They reportedly make a good cut flower, although I haven't used them that way (yet).





The plant grows from a bulb but it's evergreen in my garden.  The foliage is attractive year-round and it requires very little maintenance.    It grows to 3 feet (1 meter) tall and wide.  Reports of its cold hardiness vary.  According to Annie's, it's hardy to 15F (-9C).  In contrast, Dave's Garden says it's hardy to 40F (4.5C), although a commentator on that site claimed it was hardy for him in USDA zone 8, which corroborates Annie's projection.  My garden hasn't experienced freezing conditions so I can't offer a personal testimonial.

The plant hails from the coastal scrub and cliff areas of New Zealand, where it was cultivated by the native Maori people.  The rhizomes, when cooked, were eaten as food and the plant also had medicinal uses, although I was unable to find any specifics on this.  It's vulnerable to snails and slugs but little else.  None of the plants have been dug up by raccoons in my garden, which is a testimonial in itself.

Arthropodium cirratum is my contribution to Loree's favorite plants meme at danger garden.  Please visit her to see her favorite choice this week and to find links to other gardeners' favorite selections.
 

15 comments:

  1. Wow! It's amazing. I have never seen this plant before. I don't suppose it would grow here so I will just have to admire yours. It's gorgeous.

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    1. The grower I got it from claims its hardy to 15F or -9C but I don't know how cold it gets in your area of the UK, Chloris. It' hard for me to believe it stays evergreen at that temperature but the bulb may survive freezing temperatures.

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  2. WOW! I've never seen that one before! I love it! It's certainly beautiful. I'll have to keep an eye out for it. I'm sure it could go in a nice sheltered nook somewhere

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    1. I've never seen it in a local nursery here, Louis, but Annie's Annuals & Perennials sells it - I got mine by mail order.

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  3. Gorgeous plant, I love the orchid blooms and it does seem that it might be at least marginally hardy in my area. Great pick for fave plant!

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    1. Thanks, Shirley. It's usefulness in dry shade is hard to beat here.

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  4. Oh Kris I LOVE that plant and have ever since seeing a tiny bit of it in a photo on your blog. I'd written it off as not being hardy here but maybe...

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    1. It might do fine tucked in your greenhouse during the winter, Loree.

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  5. What an awesome plant! I love how tough it is. I wish it grew here. The flowers remind me of orchids. :o)

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    1. The flowers are a little orchid like but no orchid I've seen produces so many flower spikes, Tammy.

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  6. The flowers remind me of orchids too. I hadn't heard of this plant before. No wonder it's one of your favorites!

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    1. It seems to be a well-kept secret in the US, SweetBay. I've only seen it offered through the one nursery. It gets more press from the New Zeland nurseries.

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  7. Such a beautiful plant! I don't think I could handle the heartbreak if I tried this in my garden. I'm technically in zone 8, but definitely a cold zone 8. Not being the zone pusher that Loree is, I'll continue to admire it from a distance.

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    1. Yes, I expect it'd benefit from winter protection in zone 8.

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  8. This plant is really gorgeous!
    I have now to find it in France...

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