(Photo credit: Wasp42)

Alberta Story: Canadian wild ginger

If you’re looking for a groundcover for a shady area, look no further; Asarum canadense or Canadian wild ginger is your plant.

No silver or mottled leaves here. It has an interesting flower, though you won’t see it because it grows below the foliage. The Canadian wild ginger’s selling point is the gorgeous heart shape of the leaves, which grow to six inches across. It is a tiny bit fuzzy, just enough to give it a matte look. It isn’t quite native in Alberta, but native to Eastern North America, and it’s hardy to Zone 3.

If you prefer a shiny leaf, Asarum europaeum or European wild ginger is a similar plant that is also hardy to Zone 3. Some nurseries claim A. europaeum is A. canadense; if the leaf is shiny, though, you know the difference. The leaf is also only three inches across.

Wild ginger can be planted in soil of any typical pH. It prefers very moist but well-draining soil. The one thing it is quite particular about is shade; it won’t tolerate a sunny area.

It will take a couple of years to establish itself once planted, but then wild ginger will increase gradually as far as you will let it. It can live up to 10 years, but by then it should be increasing sufficiently that you won’t ever noticed that the ones you planted have died.

 

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