Farfugium japonicum is a clump-forming perennial that is grown in gardens as much for its attractive foliage as for its autumn flowers. It is native to moist meadows and stream banks in Japan and eastern Asia. Its best ornamental feature may be the foliage which consists of huge, long-stalked, glossy, leathery, kidney-shaped, dark green leaves (12” or more across) that form a basal clump to 2’ tall. Leaves are evergreen in warm winter climates, but will die to the ground when temperatures fall to 20 degrees F. Daisy-like, yellow flowers (1-2” across) bloom in loose corymbs atop thick, mostly leafless stalks that rise above the foliage to 30” in late summer to fall.
Winter hardy to USDA Zones 7-10. They are best grown in humusy, organically rich, medium moisture soils in part shade to full shade but they also do well in sandy soils. They prefer moist soils that never dry out, but tolerate less moisture than many of the related ligularias. Plants generally benefit from regular, deep watering in hot summers. Where winter hardy, group or mass in moist areas of shade or woodland gardens, borders, or along streams, ponds, pools or bog gardens.
Growing Instructions for the Leopard Plant
Leopard plant seeds are erratic in germination. They can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 weeks to sprout. They like moist, well-drained soil and shady areas. 1. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Use a sterile seed starter mix, if available. It prevents soil fungi from damaging the seeds and the seedlings. If not available, then make a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. 2. Put the soil in a pot. 3. Put the seeds on the surface of the soil. Press the seeds lightly into the surface of the soil. Don’t cover the seeds with soil. They need light to germinate. 4. Water the seeds. Keep the soil moist but not wet. 5. Place the pots in an area that is in full sun or part shade. 6. When the seedlings are a few inches tall, they can be transplanted.