GIANT BUTTERBUR, FUKI Petasites japonicus giganteus
These massive plants have been the center of attraction in our gardens for many years! Reliably hardy, the leaves are completely massive, and reach up to 4' across when given enough moisture! Needless to say (the images show) the kids like to hide in them. If you are looking for a wow plant, this is it! Flowers are white, and are quite large and showy also. They emerge through the snow in very early spring, grow to about 3' tall, and are composed of many smaller flowers in a round ball that is 8-9" wide. Leaves begin to emerge from the ground after the plant is already in bloom.
Fuki are said to like moist soil. We have found them to be very tolerant of many conditions! The largest patch we grow is in mostly with dry, sandy soil. In this location, they do need some water in the heat of the summer, or they will droop. If you have a moist area, or an area with rich, deep soil, they will likely need little to no watering. We have a neighbor who grows these in full sun! Surprisingly they survive quite well. They do burn a little in the hot sun, so the location is not ideal, but it shows the versatility of this plant. Leaves seem to get the largest in shady locations.
Common Names: Butterbur, Fuki, Bog Rhubarb, Sweet Coltsfoot
Type: Hardy perennial
Height: 4-5' tall
Location: part sun, or sun if planted in a moist location
Hardiness zones: 4-9, extremely hardy for us in Ontario, Canada.
Seed size: Small, fluffy looking
Seeds per pack: 30
Germination: As with many perennial seeds, these seeds require a period of moist cold to help them break dormancy. This is done by giving them a cold 'winter' period (artificial or natural), and then a warming to simulate 'spring', and time to grow! Here's how this can be done:
Obtain a planting container that has holes in the bottom for excess water to drain. Place the seeds just under the surface of your growing medium, and water. Place your container in a cold area (but not freezing, perhaps a refrigerator) for 4-6 weeks. Once the cold period is completed, place the container at room temperature for them to germinate. Be sure to keep the soil moist during this entire germination period. Seedlings will sprout a few weeks, or occasionally several months, after the warming period.
If you are planting your seeds in late winter or spring, these seeds can be planted outdoors while it is still cool out (once the ground is workable and unfrozen), to receive the cold period naturally in the garden. It is best to use this method only if you are able to keep the soil moist for the entire germination period. Be sure to label the planting area.