A Gardening Journal

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: Goldbug False Nettle

Especially on scorching days, in-the-shade plantings beckon. I find myself darting across the garden's sunny stretches from one dappled patch to another. There had better be flashy plants to make the trip worthwhile.

 

IBoehmeria nipononivea Nichirin stem tip head on 071716 640

 

This bright-leaved cultivar of false nettle, Boehmeria nipononivea 'Kogane Mushi', is one of the season's shady stars: Its new leaves are white-gold, stippling with green as they mature. 'Kogane Mushi' is Japanese, and can be translated as goldbug. 

 

In late July, new foliage is still emerging even as the tallest of the clump's stems nears five feet. This plant's need for partial shade, its large serrated leaves and, of course, their vivid coloring, all suggest that this is a gigantic coleus. But it's a perennial in the nettle family; coleus is an annual in the unrelated lilac family.

 

Boehmeria nipononivea Nichirin step tip w fingers 071716 640

 

Boehmeria nipononivea is solidly hardy to Zone 6 as long as Winter drainage is decent, and its progression through the growing season is exciting. Because the new foliage is so bright, the clump announces itself from the moment growth emerges in May. And because new leaves continue to emerge for much of the Summer, that Spring brightness just becomes larger and larger as stems lengthen to nearly six feet, and side shoots of the clump's outer stems (see below) add additional fullness and color.

 

Boehmeria nipononivea Nichirin side stems 071716 640

 

Many other shade garden plants peak in the Spring or even Winter—think snowdrops and hellebores—so it's a joy that this sizable plant just keeps on coming as July melts into August. At least two other cultivars are available: Foliage of 'Nichirin' is heavily margined in creamy white, whereas that of 'Solid Gold' is, indeed, completely yellow. I look forward to growing them both.

 

Here's how to grow Boehmeria platanifolia. Its handling and hardiness are similar, but its strikingly large and fringed all-green leaves tolerate much more sun.

Here's how handsome its leafless stems look all Winter.

Here's a look at its intriguing tassel-like flower spikes of late Summer.

 
 
FacebookTwitterRSS Feed

Stay in touch!

 

Sign up for twice-monthly eNews, plus notification of new posts:

 

* indicates required