Many gardeners grow bear’s breeches for their foliage alone, although the flowers are also quite nice. (Richie Steffen)

Many gardeners grow bear’s breeches for their foliage alone, although the flowers are also quite nice. (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Acanthus spinosus aka bear’s breeches

Many gardeners grow this acanthus for their foliage alone, although the flowers are also quite nice.

What: The large, glossy, bright green leaves of Acanthus spinosus, commonly known as bear’s breeches, add drama to any setting, but its smaller more compact habit make it easy to fit into almost any garden. Each leaf is deeply cut along the margins giving an attractive laciness that softens the boldness of the large foliage. In mid-summer this acanthus produces equally dramatic, pagoda-like inflorescences, up to 3 feet tall. Each inflorescence is composed of tiers of hooded flowers in shades of light purple, pink and white. Each flower has a sharp spine, so be careful when handling them.

Where: Acanthus spinosus thrives in full sun to dappled shade, but is more compact and blooms better with more light. It will form long tap roots that help it survive drought. If these tap roots are broken, bear’s breech will sprout a new plant from the broken root. Water occasionally to regularly in full sun to keep a lush appearance or, if grown without summer watering, plants will go dormant in early summer.

Size: In 10 years, this acanthus will grow to be 1½ feet tall and 2 feet wide.

Care: Cut bear’s breeches to the ground once they have started to yellow, and fresh growth will appear in the fall. Occasional hard freezes can damage the winter foliage, cut back the damaged leaves and new growth will start again in late winter or early spring.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Picks

Talk to us

More in Life

David Dastmalchian (back left), King Shark (back center) and Daniela Melchior (back right), with John Cena (front left) and Idris Elba (front right) in “The Suicide Squad.” (Warner Bros. Pictures/TNS)
Director James Gunn takes ‘Suicide Squad’ on maniacal romp

He brings a new comic energy to the violent comic book adaptation, a follow-up to a much-panned 2016 film.

Workers prepare to offload Dungeness crab from a boat on Pier 45 in the Fisherman's Wharf district in San Francisco, California, on Jan. 13, 2021. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by David Paul Morris.
No crabs, no scallops: Seafood is vanishing from menus in U.S.

Seafood prices have risen about 11% over the past year, thanks to congested ports, not enough fishermen and soaring demand.

Sandra Oh as the title character in "Killing Eve." MUST CREDIT: Gareth Gatrell, BBC America
August TV: 4 new shows we can’t wait to see

We’re still more than a month away from the start of the new fall broadcast season, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to watch in August.

Adam Driver in "Annette." (Kris Dewitte/Amazon Studios/TNS)
Adam Driver stars in ‘Annette,’ a darkly strange musical

Director Leos Carax’s movie won raves at the Cannes Film Festival; your mileage may vary.

Yogoman Burning Band will perform Jamaican and New Orleans dance rhythms Aug. 6-7 as part of the Bands, Brews and Bowling event at Evergreen Bowling in Everett. (Yogoman Burning Band)
All about music: Schedule of concerts around Snohomish County

The listings include Bands, Brews and Bowling at Evergreen Lanes in Everett.

Laura Smith, with husband Tom, makes Danielle Lam laugh after being presented with a check for $10,000 from The Prize Patrol from Publishers Clearing House on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
‘Holy roses!’ A day in the life of the legendary Prize Patrol

Publishers Clearing House surprised a Mukilteo couple with a sweepstakes prize, flowers and balloons.

Cricket & Snail, a violin and accordion duo from Prague featuring Lucie and James Carlson, is scheduled to perform Aug. 6 at Cafe Zippy in Everett. (Cricket & Snail)
Where to hear live music in Snohomish County nightclubs

The listings include Engel’s Pub, Mirkwood Public House and Port Gardner Bay Winery shows.

Kermet Apio will perform stand-up at the Edmonds Center for the Arts on Sept. 9. (YouTube)
Theater, dance and comedy shows around Snohomish County

The listings include Historic Everett Theatre, Edmonds Center for the Arts and Thumbnail Theater shows.

Nathan Welton/ Dreamtime Images
Photographer David Welton’s work has appeared in the South Whidbey Record and The Daily Herald.
The camera is Whidbey Island man’s second calling

After retiring from a career in medicine, David Welton of Langley focuses on his first love: photography

Most Read