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Great Plants this Month Summer

Datisca cannabina – Cretan hemp*

pic of louise sims
Louise Sims

If plants were twinned with characters from books, there is little doubt that Datisca cannabina would be paired up with Roald Dahl’s BFG. My Great Plant this Month is truly a gentle giant of a plant.

This clump-forming, herbaceous perennial, to 2m or more in height, is almost as wide as it is high; however, this spread is from wingtip to wingtip, not the width at the base which is a scant 45 cms across. The fresh green, pinnate foliage, like an ash tree (or a hash tree to some!) is borne on green stems that arch over in time, gracefully bearing the long, hanging tassels of tiny greenish-white flowers in late summer.

So, bearing in mind that it is herbaceous, the rate of growth of this hardy, clump-forming perennial is huge, and besides being a dependable back of border plant it would also look well in an informal or cottage garden, underplanted with low, ground covering plants. With its exotic and architectural appearance and lush leaves, it is perfect for those who would like to create a tropical, jungly look to their plot.

After the lack of rain this spring and summer (sorry – I realise not throughout the UK), combined with the heat we have been having, I can testify to its drought tolerance! 

*not to be confused with the plant containing intoxicating compounds!

NB Louise has published a beautifully produced book of her plant profiles – A Plant for Each Week of the Year. It costs £9.99 and is for sale in our online shop here.

More NB If you’re not already a subscriber and you’d like a bit more gardening chitchat from the3growbags, please type your email address here and we’ll send you a new post every Saturday morning.

By the3growbags

We're three sisters who love gardening, plants and even the science of horticulture but we're not all experts. We'd love everyone even remotely interested in their gardens to be part of our blogsite.

3 replies on “Datisca cannabina – Cretan hemp*”

I was reading your comments on datisca cannabina. For a long time now, I have been in love with that plant. As I have tried to create a jungle garden I have been convinced that datisca cannabina would be the cherry on the cake. Therefore, I have purchased so far at leased five packs of seed from various so called seed sellers. And so far have germinated zero plants. I have tried to find out, on the ‘net’ how to germinate these seeds, but no where is there an article on that subject. Did you buy yours as a plant or did you germinate yours from seed. If you had grown your’s from seed, I’d be interested in reading an article on how your did it. If you didn’t then I suppose I will have to buy a plant. But your article was interesting to read. Thank you.

Thanks for your query Eddy. It was a long time ago but I am fairly sure that I bought ours as a plant and did not grow it from seed. As a compulsive propagator, I am always having a go with seeds and results are variable – even after germination, one then has slugs to contend with! I’m wondering if you are familiar with the Hardy Plant Society? They have one of the best seed distribution schemes around (which this year included Datisca cannabina) and their members are very generous with advice. Good luck!

Thank you for your reply to my comments about datisca cannabina. I will send the hardy plant society a chance to help me with my quest. I’ll Google them and see how we go down that avenue. And do keep up with the blogs on the gardens. I never tire of reading them, particularly tropical jungle gardening. Thank you.

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