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  • Common Name: Japanese Sweet Flag, Japanese Rush
  • Latin Name: Acorus gramineus
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Acorus gramineus 'Variegatus'Acorus gramineus 'Variegatus'This grass-like evergreen perennial is native to eastern Asia, where it commonly occurs in wetlands and shallow water. The colourful foliage grows in fan-like tufts resembling irises, and when walked upon, releases a fragrance reminiscent of cinnamon. 'Variegatus' has bright green leaves prominently margined with white and grows +-40cm tall and 40cm wide.  'Golden Edge' has yellow and green striped leaves and grows +-30 to 40cm tall and wide. Plants can take 2 to 3 years to reach their ultimate height, which may be taller than described, with a wider spread.

Acorus gramineus 'Golden Edge' Picture courtesy TuberfloraAcorus gramineus 'Golden Edge' Picture courtesy TuberfloraThe Japanese sweet flag is a great foliage plant for shallow water and perfect to plant in wetland and bog gardens. It is beautiful planted around the edges of ponds and water gardens; and can be submerged in freshwater aquaria. It can also be grown in ordinary garden beds as long as they are watered frequently. In Japan the smaller cultivars are often are grown in containers indoors, in shallow water. Japanese sweet flag is especially suitable for miniature water features outdoors such as half barrels or large ceramic bowls filled with water.

The plants will adapt to soils ranging from very acidic (pH 5.2 to 5.5) to alkaline (pH 8.1 to 8.5). They are fully hardy to frost and are evergreen in warmer climates, semi-evergreen in cold climates, and will die back completely to ground level in extremely cold climates; mulch the roots in winter and the plants will shoot again in spring.

Acorus gramineus 'Golden Edge' Picture courtesy MalanseunsAcorus gramineus 'Golden Edge' Picture courtesy MalanseunsThey thrive in semi-shade to sun, but in cooler climates will take full sun, as long as moisture levels are high; the leaf tips will turn brown and wither if the soil dries for even brief periods. Too much summer sun or protracted dry conditions will cause the plants to look poorly; in too much shade growth will be stunted.

Where conditions are favourable they will spread aggressively by rhizomes, creating a nearly seamless groundcover. If you don't want a solid stand of Japanese sweet flag, grow it in submerged containers so it can't spread.

Propagation is by dividing the rhizomes in spring and overgrown clumps should be divided every 2 to 3 years.

This a low-maintenance plant suffers from no serious insect or disease problems.


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