The Q&A Archives: Aram italicum

Question: Because it is difficult to find a plant that will thrive in my shade garden that also can withstand hot, humid summers, as well as deer and nibbling bugs I have planted Italian arum. However, I understand that the plant is toxic (which might help with the pests) but I will probably have to handle it carefully. We do have some cold weather in the winter so it may slow down its growth but I understand this plant is invasive in California, which is zone 9. We are zone 8b.

Answer: Italian arum (Arum italicum) is a member of the large philodendron family and makes a colorful addition to our winter gardens. As its name suggests, it?s a Mediterranean plant but with a remarkably wide natural range from Turkey to North Africa. It?s winter hardy through most of zone 6 so it should survive well in your zone 8b garden.

You're right about careful handling. Wear gloves! Calcium oxalate crystals are common in many aroids and cause adverse skin reactions and tissue inflammation, especially if exposed to soft tissues.

Italian arums are easy to grow in the garden. Any soil seems to work, but they grow faster in fertile, well drained sites. They?re most often grown in the deciduous woodland garden but do fine in full sun. They will colonize and once established, they seem almost indestructible. To keep them from becoming invasive, dig them up every few years and toss (or give away) the excess.

Best wishes with your garden!

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