The Q&A Archives: Bears Breeches

Question: Last year I bought a Monrovia container plant that I believe was called Bears Breeches. In all our wind storms, I've lost the ID tag. It has large (10-12

Answer: Bears Breeches is a common name for the perennial Acanthus. Acanthus hungaricus and Acanthus spinosus are hardy to zone 5 so could be planted outdoors. Acanthus mollis is slightly less winter hardy (only to zone 7) and so would be borderline for you, depending on your microclimate. In a sheltered location with protection from winter wind, and with a generous winter mulch, it might make it. (Your zip code places you in zone 6B or the warmer part of zone 6. In a very sheltered location it might be as warm as zone 7, but in a more exposed location it mgiht be as cold as zone 6A.)It can tolerate morning sun or bright dappled light all day, the soil should be evenly moist yet well drained. If it is too wet it will not overwinter for you. If it is too dry, the foliage may die down during the summer. This year's Monrovia on line plant catalog includes only Acaanthus mollis "Oak Leaf" also called Grecian Pattern Plant, it is hardy to zone 7. If you know where you bought it, you might ask the nursery which Acanthus they had last year. They may remember.

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