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Asarum caudatum is an attractive and hardy ground-cover for deeply shaded gardens.
With a spicy-ginger fragrance and unusual (to say the least) flowers.
Hardy ground-cover for deep shade
Asarums form a dense carpet of glossy, decorative heart shaped leaves under trees and shrubs.
Because they are always so bright and shiny, they give an exotic and lush look even to the gloomiest spots under trees, shrubs or structures.
Weird spidery velvet flowers
I look forward all year to the weird, velvety-burgundy Asarum blooms, that peek out from the foliage in late winter and early spring.
Because these flowers are an unusual treat, with their extra long spidery tails.
On top of enjoying the spicy ginger fragrance of the foliage all year round
No care carpet in deep shade
Asarums make the perfect, easy, no care shade carpet.
Because their tough rhizomes can withstand all sorts of competition from tree roots.
And their tough foliage is not plagued by slugs and snails, with Asarum caudatum enjoying the reputation of being the most slug resistant of all.
Plant where you can enjoy the spicy ginger scent
However they are lovely planted where you brush or tread too, as the crushed foliage and rhizomes give off a sweet, spicy fragrance like ginger.
But do not make a mistake – they are not related to edible ginger.
Useful companions with bulbs
Asarums are also lovely interplanted with bulbs like miniature daffodils.
Then the bulb flowers will poke up through, while the Asarum foliage covers the mess when the bulbs die back.
SEED SOWING ADVICE:
Sow indoors: First sow the seeds in a punnet on the surface of good quality seed raising mix.
Then gently press the seeds onto the surface of the mix, to ensure good contact.
Now cover the seed to a depth of 2mm. approx.
And you can use sieved mix, or fine grit, or vermiculite, or washed sand to sprinkle over the seeds.
Then place the sown punnet into a water bath (make sure the water level in the bath is below the surface of the mix).
So the moisture percolates up through the mix from the bottom to thoroughly moisten the mix throughout.
Soak for a short time until moisture appears on the surface of the mix, and then remove and drain.
Because the mix needs to be moist throughout, but not wet.
Now place the moist punnet in a warm, well-lit position (not in direct sun).
Temperatures of 20-22°C approx. are best for rapid and optimum germination.
You can use a temperature-controlled heat mat if you have one to encourage rapid germination, but it is not essential.
A window-sill or well-lit corner is also fine.
Adding a clear plastic cover helps to retain moisture in the punnet.
And continue to keep the punnet moist by spraying the surface of the mix a fine spray water bottle, or re-soaking in the water bath, as required.
(If the punnet is light weight when you pick it up – the mix is drying out and needs another soak from below in the water bath).
Seedlings emerge in approx. 4-6 weeks.
A “pretend winter” may be needed
However if they are shy to germinate and have not appeared in 6 weeks, then the seeds need a period of chilling to break their natural dormancy. This is normal for plants from areas with cold winters.
So wrap the moist, sown punnet in cling-wrap, place in the fridge (not freezer) for 4-6 weeks (this mimics winter).
Then remove, unwrap, and place in a cool, well-lit place.
Temperatures of approx. 10°C are ideal for rapid and optimum germination at this stage.
Seed Count: 10 seeds per pack approx.
(We always aim to exceed the stated seed count, and give a generous serve).
GROWING: Asarum caudatum
– Height with flowers: The whole dense carpet of foliage and flowers stands 15cm. high approx.
– Width: White Ginger forms a slowly spreading carpet to a diameter of approx. 45cm. So it is not invasive.
– Position: Asarums enjoy Deep Shade under evergreen trees, Dappled Shade in deciduous woodland, or even some Morning Sun. They are actually found in the wild in conifer forests, so of course they enjoy living under evergreen conifers.
But they are particularly hardy and useful for gardens where there is Deep Shade, no matter what is making the shade.
Hardy & easy ground cover
– Water-wise: Asarums are unthirsty plants, so they can tolerate drying out between drinks once established in the shade they enjoy. Asarums can ride through periods of difficulty because they have such robust rhizomes for their root system. So just normal, average garden water is ideal. They are also able to withstand a wait between drinks.
Despite their lush, exotic appearance, they are robust and resistant hardy plants.
– Care: A very easy growing and low maintenance groundcover, so virtually no annual work to do. Asarums are largely untroubled by pests and diseases, and the glossy, tough leaves are usually not even to the taste of slugs and snails.
– Frost: Asarums are very frost hardy, even in hard frosts well below -20C.
Natural born forest dwellers
– Soil: Asarums are natural born forest dwellers, so they enjoy leaf litter and loose mulch as found on the forest floor.
Loam and clay based soils are perfect for them, while they will struggle in sandy soils.
They are happy in acid soils, and so make perfect companion groundcovers under rhododendrons, camellias and other woodland style plants.
Though they are able to cope with a range of soil pH, on both the acid and alkaline (lime) side of neutral, and will accept quite a degree of lime if necessary.
– Fragrance: Both the foliage and the roots are wonderfully scented of ginger.
So do plant them where you walk or brush past, and enjoy that spicy scent.
However don’t mistake them for culinary ginger, they are only called “Ginger” because of the delicious scent.
– Beneficial for wildlife: The weird flowers of Asarums are especially designed to attract pollinating bees, moths and butterflies.
Easy low care
– Growth: Slowly spreading, dense carpet of lush foliage. Asarums will remain brightly evergreen in winter where they have overhead shade, and in milder districts. Whereas in severely cold winter and exposed areas they may go underground for a short period to protect themselves in the cold snap. However they will be back again, lusher and denser than ever with the first whiff of spring.
– Low Care: Asarums are very low maintenance plants, just popping along all year covering up the ground under trees and shrubs.
Plus they are not invasive, but should your clump stray further than you want – they are easily pared back.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: I am so glad to say – Rabbits and deer don’t like the gingery taste of Asarums, despite their lush and juicy look.
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