Skirt-lifting time in the woods

While we’ll always grow the woodland asarum (wild gingers) for their foliage, we are equally as entranced by their flowers which occur from fall thru spring…based on the species. The only months we haven’t recorded asarum flowers in the garden are June-September. 

One of our first time offerings this year is a selection we made of the Japanese Asarum kurosawae that we named Asarum ‘Saddleback’. (Zone 7a-8b, at least)In late winter, we remove the old foliage in the center of the clump so that we can enjoy the flowers as you can see below. 

Most of our asarums start as single divisions, and after 3-4 years, we divide them for the first time, resulting in 5-10 plants.  A second division 3-4 years later yields another 5-10 plants each, for a total of 25-100 plants. A third division is required 3-4 years later to finally have enough to offer. So, from start to commercialization is usually 9-12 years of production time.

Tony demonstrates how to divide asarum (wild ginger) during the winter.

Asarum takaoi ‘Ginba’ below is an old Japanese cultivar that we first offered in 2015, and again this year. We first obtained this in 2003, so that’s only 2 offerings in 16 years. There’s a reason that most nurseries don’t bother with these.  At least now, we have been able to build up a stock block for future propagation.  We hope you’ll take a peek below the foliage for a truly great floral show. (Zone 4b-8a)

A new asarum that will be coming in another year or so, is our yellow-flowered selection of the typically purple-flowered Asarum ichangense, that we named ‘Ichang Lemon’. It’s in full bloom now, so if you can make it to our Winter Open Nursery and Garden, be sure to take a peak.  (Zone 5a-8a, guessing)  To learn more about wild gingers in the woodland garden, join us for our free garden chat series, Gardening Unplugged, the second Sunday of our Winter Open Nursery and Garden, May 3 at 2:00pm  

8 thoughts on “Skirt-lifting time in the woods

  1. I have only ever seen Asarum flowers by “lifting the skirt” of leaves, as you
    poetically describe it! Thank you for these photos of whole clumps of Asarum flowers, unobstructed by leaves! And thanks for the interesting info about the lengthy division process required to bring these to market.

  2. As an aside to ‘lifting skirts’, in January I trim old, large and/or damaged leaves from my hellebores. Amazing how much better they look and it enhances the new growth. Soon I will place volunteer young hellebores in pots for a summer in the shade. Love hellebores in winter…and year around.

  3. I love asarums! They are difficult to find in nurseries. I had been told it was not easy to propagate new plants but I took a chance a couple of years ago and divided an established clump in my garden. Success! Your tutorial gives me even more insight in how to go about starting additional plantings. Thank you.

  4. Would these work as ground cover for dwarf Japanese maples? Or are the roots too vigorous and grow too deeply and out-compete the maple?

  5. I heard you mention in part 1 of your Asarum video, that only top quality soil will work in containers. Can you tell me what kind of potting soil I could buy or mix that I could make would work? What are we looking for? Super well-draining, or one that keeps moisture, highly organic, full of homemade compost, or what? I’d like to divide my Asarum, but pot them up to grow before I plant them in the garden. If I plant tiny little bits, they’ll get trampled by kids before they amount to anything.

    • I wish I knew how to quantify the soil mix that works best. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with how it looks or feels. We’ve tried well over a dozen mixes through the years, all of which looked like they would work. One mix worked great for three years and then the company altered the mix slightly and almost all of our asarum died in pots. It’s truly just trial and error…just don’t make your errors on a large scale. The company whose mix we use now is not available to homeowners.

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