Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

My Favorite Plant in the Garden This Week Is...

Arum italicum 'Jack Sprat.'

This variety of Arum has random black spots on the arrowhead-shaped leaves -- not burgundy or purple or blue, but truly black. Like the Epimediums that I posted about last week here, it's another great little plant for dry shade. I bought it 3 years ago, and it has clumped up beautifully since then. I have it in four spots in my garden, and each clump has gotten bigger and wider since I first planted it, but it hasn't self-sown or made runners, or shown itself to be the least bit of an aggressive spreader, a complaint I have heard about the plain green species Arum italicum. I have the plain species too, and in my garden, in dry shade, it also hasn't spread at all. Both have increased modestly via offsets that stay very close to the mother plant.

'Jack Sprat' is a great companion plant to black mondo grass, Saxifrages, golden Hakone grass, Epimediums, Brunnera and dark-leafed Heucheras.

A nice size clump of 'Jack Sprat' next to a Saxifrage

Here it is next to Brunnera, Hellebore and gold Carex

Last year my 'Jack Sprat' Arum flowered, but didn't produce the spike of red berries that I was hoping for (You can see pictures of the flower in this post). Maybe this year I'll get flowers and berries. The cool thing about the cluster of red berries is that it lingers and ripens over the summer after the foliage fades and dies back. The plant will tolerate both dry soil and extremely wet soil.

Here are some particulars about Arum italicum 'Jack Sprat.'

Height: 1 to 1 1/2 feet
Width: 1 to 1 1/2 feet
Hardiness: Zone 5-9
Light: Part Shade to Full Shade
Soil: Moist, humusy, organically rich

I haven't seen it for sale online. I bought mine at an early spring plant sale a few years ago.

Loree at danger garden hosts the Favorite Plant in the Garden meme. You can read her current post about her favorite plant this week here, and be sure and take a look at the comments, where other bloggers like me leave links to their posts.