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Flower Arrangements from the Garden: Bear’s Breeches (Acanthus mollis)

With tall flower spikes and handsome foliage, bear’s breeches is an outstanding evergreen perennial that makes a grand architectural statement in the garden or vase. The irregular flowers are white with purplish calyx lobes and are densely packed on the stems in mid- to late spring. The shiny dark green leaves are up to two feet long and are lobed or deeply divided. The size of the flowering stalks makes them suitable only for large arrangements, as cutting them shorter would ruin the proportions. The leaves are beautiful but unfortunately do not last well in the vase. Try pairing with hydrangea or agapanthus.  PhotoCredit Kenpei Wikimedia Commons

Cutting: Pick stems when all the flowers are open.

Conditioning: Dip stems in boiling water then give long drink in deep cold water.

Drying: Allow to dry in the vase or hang upside-down in dry warm room.



    • 3-4’ H x 3’ W


    • Full sun to partial shade


    • Rich, medium moist, well drained


    • Zones 8-10


    • Seeds in spring, division in spring or autumn, root cuttings in late autumn or early winter.


    Cut to ground level after flowering

Acanthus spinosus is a similar species but has spiny leaf margins. It is more cold hardy and tolerates heat and humidity better than A. mollis but can be more difficult to work with because of the spines.

Recommended Reading:

Flowers: The Book of Floral Design
Tussie-Mussies: The Language of Flowers
The Complete Flower Arranging Book
The Flower Workshop
Infinite Succulents
Container Gardeners Handbook
The Plant Recipe Book
Seasonal Flower Arranging
Martha's Flowers
Discovering Dahlias
The Flower Recipe Book
Modern Faux Flower Projects
The Botanical Bible
Flower School
A Year in Flowers
The Posy Book
The Little Flower Recipe Book
Flower Porn
Flower Chef
Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden
Herbs: Gardens, Decorations, and Recipes