grow this: Aralia californica

grow this: Aralia californica

I count Aralia californica aka Elk Clover in the cheap thrills department. This baby was planted two years ago and it grew to four feet its first season. It’s winter deciduous, lending to its fresh, airy look come spring and into summer. Mine is sandwiched between our tropical-themed patio garden, and the shade bed under the apple tree. It makes the transition with aplomb.

Elk Clover last year in June 2016.

Elk Clover registers around 5-8′, though can grow to an impressive 10′ if you’re really lucky. I wish. Pretty good for an herbaceous perennial. Zone 7-10.

It delivers great little Sputnik flowers.

And it ties in nicely with surrounding plants. Woodland style to the left; sunny tropical to the right.

Couldn’t resist this shot with Pumpkin (RIP) photobombing.

It also produces berries in the fall to the birdie’s delight–but do I have a personal picture? Nooooo. I’ll have get one this year. (A nice shot of berries is included on the plant detail page, compliments of Keeping it Green Nursery, one of our contributing nursery. They’re located in Stanwood, WA. I’ve never been there, but hope to visit some day.)

Elk Clover under the shade of the apple tree.

There’s a peek of the Elk Clover under the shade of the apple tree, to the left of the Tetrapanax. Of course, the picture is from last year, because this year–there’s not a Canna to be seen.

We’d love to hear about your cheap thrills department. And, of course, your expensive thrills too.


  • Alison

    Oh yes, great plant! I have one that I planted early on in this garden, about 7 years ago, and I love it. I just bought a second this year, still in its nursery pot. Not sure where I’ll put it.

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      That’s how real gardeners do it, right? Buy first. Figure out where to plant later. I’ve got several subjects awaiting.

  • Tim Vojt

    That’s a nice plant. Although understated in color, it really has a presence because of its size. My cheap-thrills plant is the native milkweed, Asclepias syriaca, that I shared on Instagram. Fabulous structure, presence, cool flowers, heavenly scent and host plant to the monarch butterfly. Unfortunately it’s a cheap thrill, because like all tawdry, cheap and profligate plants, it is hell-bent on world domination!!

    • Patricia L Cunningham

      Haha. I’ve heard warnings about Asclepias–right after I jumped on the bandwagon. But maybe worth it for the butterflies. I’ve been making some headway on my weeds. And when I get tired & give up for the day, I tell myself, well, the pollinators probably don’t care that they are weeds…

      • Tim Vojt

        The pollinators definitely don’t care! 🙂
        I’ve got nine species of Asclepias; most in the garden. Only A. syriaca is a monster, although A. speciosa runs as well. And I want more…….

  • Peter Herpst

    I love anything with big leaves and this certainly qualifies. Must look for it next time I’m at a nursery. My cheap thrill plant has got to be tuberous begonias. Not so much the little ‘Nonstop’ ones that are all over the trade these days but the big, old fashioned ones like those at Marbott’s