Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday Foliage: Aralia cordata 'Sun King'

Please help me welcome one of the newest additions to my garden: 'Sun King' Aralia!

I have a confession to make: this isn’t my first try with this plant. The first one I got from Asiatica Nursery (now closed) and I let it dry out too much before I could even get it in the ground. I purchased this one at the Flower Factory this spring. They seem to be the only local source so far, and I was pleasantly surprised to find it.
This variety was discovered as an ornamental cultivar in Japan, and it’s still pretty new to the trade here in the US. Aralia cordata is a relatively hardy plant to zone 4, so I believe that this should have no problem with winter hardiness. I’m exited about it because it has the potential to grow pretty large… the straight species is downright huge, getting up to eight feet tall and wide (or more?!?). The jury’s out as to how large Sun King will get… one commercial grower’s claiming only 3 by 3 feet, others think it will get big like the wild variety.
The best feature of this plant is the bold, gold foliage that’s lighting up a dark space under my oak trees. I planted it next to Aralia racemosa, which is Sun King’s slightly smaller American cousin.

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