The Spikenard Population is Increasing!

May 28, 2024

Should you be worried about this plant?  Heck no!  This tough perennial plant is finding a home all over the Iowa Great Lakes!  Golden Spikenard is being planted under the Burr Oak canopy in the Okoboji area and is becoming a common landscape plant.  Also known as False Aralia, this deer resistant plant grows well in shade with chartreuse colored leaves and red stems.  This unique perennial grows best in part to light shade, though if given consistent moisture it can also grow in full sun. It prefers richly organic, deep loamy soil that is moist but well-drained. This plant is not drought tolerant, but the Spikenard pictured below has been growing well for years next to an asphalt parking area. It typically dies back to the ground in winter and re-emerges in spring to quickly form a shrub-like clump.  The rugged stems support leaves that are not bothered by wind and this plant takes some serious tools to cut it back after a frost!

Photo Credit Walter’s Gardens

The vivid colored foliage is ideally used to brighten up shady locations.  Growing 30-36” tall and wide, this long-lived perennial can provide privacy around an outdoor room.  The red tones stems add even more color to a vibrant plant.  False Aralia can be mass planted into areas where grass will not grow.  Create an area of solitude in shady locations with hardy ferns and Golden Japanese Forest Grass as companion plants.  If you have success with Hosta, Spikenard adds another textural dimension.

But really, who wants to have a Spikenard in the landscape in the Okoboji or Spirit Lake area?  Is False Aralia really a better name?  Imagine the conversations in your neighborhood!  “Hey, you got a nice-looking Spikenard”.  Or “Now that you have Spikenards, what are you serving up for adult beverages this evening?”  Perhaps for the name alone…you need a conversation plant like Golden Spikenard.

–  Todd Brockshus, Sr Horticulturalist