A neat evergreen perennial for the shade garden, Rohdeas have fleshy tapered or rounded leaves. In Japan a virtual cult surrounds their breeding and cultivation, and there are reputed to exist over 1,000 varieties. We can't match that number, but the sorts we have selected may pique your interest in this handsome genus. Rohdeas rarely grow over 12-18 inches high, and a mature clump may measure a foot or so across. In summer a short stalk produces pale yellow flowers among the bold foliage, and in late summer green fruits that quickly turn to red will charm you. Rohdeas are easy to grow in rich, moist soil in shade but appear to be quite drought tolerant once established. Plant them with Ferns, Epimediums, or other shade-loving plants. Z. 6-9
Rohdea japonica - Lily Of China
A lush, exotic touch is provided by this evergreen perennial groundcover. Tufts of dark green strap-like leaves emerge from the base of the plant, which grows slowly and spreads modestly to 1-2 feet. Over time Lily of China will form an impressive clump. Pale yellow flowers, produced on short stalks, are insignificant but are succeeded by attractive red fruits. Plant in deep shade in rich, moist soil. Lily of China can also be potted up and grown indoors in a cool room. These seed-grown plants will, in time, form a nice clump. Z. (5)6-9
Rohdea japonica 'Chirimen Boshi' - Lily Of China
Rounded, overlapping leaves display varying degrees of cream edging.
Rohdea japonica 'Galle' - Lily Of China
Polished dark green narrow leaves are tapering and overlapping. A solid green selection.
Rohdea japonica 'Miyako no Jo' - Lily Of China
One of the most striking Rohdeas that we grow, 'Miyako no Jo' has large leaves crisply edged in cream. The broad leaves grow bolt upright, making them especially eye catching.
Limit one, please.
Rohdea japonica 'Mure Suzume' - Dwarf Variegated Lily Of China
Variegated Rohdeas are always rare treasures, and they become even more rarefied when they are dwarf as well, as is this uncommon introduction from Japan, land of the rare plant. The name means "flock of sparrows," and the densely overlapping leaves do suggest birds in flight. The white streaks along the rim of the slender tapered leaves could be the markings on the wing. In any case, reserve a choice location in the shade garden for this groundcover 4-6 inches high.
Rohdea japonica 'Nobori Ryu' - Crested Lily Of China
Leaves are nearly black-green, and they have raised veins that produce an extravagant crest, like the ridges of a dragon. (We all know how dragons have ridges along their backs, don't we?) This Rohdea is quite slow growing and remains rather low, seldom exceeding a foot in height. We've been growing it over 10 years, and only now do we have a few plants to share.
Rohdea japonica 'White Canoe' - Lily Of China
A white band rides the crest of each broad leaf. The leaves overlap somewhat and create a frothy mound of green and white.