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Plant Profile: Broadleaved Bears Breech (Acanthus mollis ‘Latifolius’)

The ancient Greeks admired the leaves of this tall handsome plant and used it as a model for the decorative capitals on their Corinthian columns. A native of the Mediterranean from Greece to Portugal, bears breeches grow especially well in Southern California where the climate is hot and dry like its native range. There it blooms during the summer with tall flower shoots covered with pinkish white florets complemented by mauve hoods. Boradleaved Bears Breech can be grown in zones 8 to 10 (with protection in 7) but in colder areas may not bloom and is grown for the large attractive leaves. The foliage declines after flowering and some gardeners remove the flower spikes as they emerge to keep the foliage looking good. The cultivar ‘Latifolius” is hardier than the species.

Type: Herbaceous perennial

Bloom: Tall spikes, 4-6’ in height, of pinkish white florets have mauve hoods; June-August

Foliage: Leaves 24’long by 12” wide form 36-48” clump.

Size: 3-6’H x 4’W

Light: Partial shade to full sun

Soil: Light, sandy, well-drained, alkaline

Hardiness: Zones 8-10, 7 with protection

Care: Remove flower stalks for more attractive foliage

Pests and Diseases: Slugs and snails

Propagation: Division in winter

Companion plants: Bamboo, ornamental grasses, large ferns.

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