Thursday, May 5, 2011


Until a couple of years ago, I had never heard of this plant. I'm not sure if it is a very large, woody stemmed perennial that dies to the ground or a small shrub that just isn't quite hardy enough to keep all it's branches during the winter. The common name of Shrub Mint doesn't help with the confusion. My established plants are at least 3 feet tall and as wide. This is the first one we got, simply Leucosceptrum stellipilum. We had ordered the variegated version and got this one by mistake. We kept it and just reordered the variegated one. There aren't that many things that grow in shade and also bloom in September - and that don't look like asters. The spikey blooms are pinkish purple on the plain leafed one and yellowish on the variegated one.

And here is the variegated one, simply called Variegata. The pattern on the leaves is a combination of shades of green and a greenish/goldish/chartreusish color. They are just now leafing out and so usually avoid the worst of the late frosts. Its preferred location would be in light shade to part sun. Zones for it would be from 5 to 8. I've never seen them bothered by critters, with 4 legged or of the flying and biting varieties.

When Asiatica Nursery was closing down last summer and fall, Barry had a lot of good bargains (and I'm a sucker for a good bargain on plants or yarn). The Leucosceptrum japonicum 'Golden Angel' was one of the things I bought. It took right off and is now about 2 feet tall and wide and wasn't bothered at all by last night's frost.

The other one that I got was this Leucosceptrum stellipilum 'October Moon'. This photo doesn't do the colors justice. The centers of the leaves are a medium green and the edges a creamy chartreuse, but there are lots of small flashes of other colors in the edge and at the margin between the edge and the center. I think this is going to be spectacular when it gets big. It hasn't grown as much as the Golden Angel just yet, but I'm looking forward to a whole bush full of these lovely leaves.

The species is native to Japan and from what I've read, they are the ones doing the hybridizing of these new varieties. If you haven't tried these, you should. I think I say that about everything. I'm so glad I have pretty unlimited gardening space; I don't have to make choices - I can have them all. Now if only I had a bottomless checkbook...


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