Native to the woodlands of Eastern North America, this first-rate groundcover loves shady areas and forms a solid patch of ground hugging, kidney-shaped, evergreen shiny leaves.
Asarum canadense, Canadian Ginger does a great job of colonizing in dark areas.
Hardy ground-cover for deep shade
Asarum canadense thrives in full Deep Shade or even Partial Shade.
It certainly compliments Hostas, Hellebores and bulbs in a woodland setting.
The best Asarum for difficult shady spots
Though Canadian Wild Ginger is more vigorous than its European cousins, it is easy to control and not considered invasive. It’s increased vigour can be an advantage in tougher and more difficult areas.
Because it is always so bright and shiny, it certainly gives an exotic and lush look to gloomy spots.
Weird spidery flowers
I look forward all year to the weird, velvety Asarum blooms. They peek out from the foliage in late winter and early spring.
Asarum canadense blooms with rust-red, very spidery blooms.
No care carpet in deep shade
Asarums make the perfect, easy, no care shade carpet, because their tough rhizomes can withstand all sorts of competition from tree roots, and a wait between drinks.
Plant where you can enjoy the spicy ginger scent
However they are lovely planted wherever you brush or tread, as the bruised foliage and rhizomes give off a sweet, spicy fragrance like ginger.
But do not make a mistake – they are not related to edible ginger.
Useful companions with bulbs
Asarums are also lovely interplanted with miniature daffodils or other fine bulbs.
Then the bulb flowers can poke up through, while the Asarum foliage covers the mess as the bulbs die back..
Growing: Asarum canadense
CANADIAN WILD GINGER
– Height with flowers: The whole dense carpet of foliage and flowers stands 15cm. high approx.
– Width: Asarum canadense forms a spreading carpet to a diameter of approx. 45cm. It is more vigorous than its European cousins, and this is an advantage in very tough areas. It is not considered invasive.
– Position: Asarums enjoy Deep Shade under evergreen trees, Dappled Shade in deciduous woodland, or even some Morning Sun. They are actually found in the wild in conifer forests, so of course they enjoy living under evergreen conifers.
But they are particularly hardy and useful for gardens where there is Deep Shade, no matter what is making the shade.
Hardy & easy ground cover
– Water-wise: Asarums are unthirsty plants, so they can tolerate drying out between drinks once established in the shade they enjoy. Asarums can ride through periods of difficulty because they have such robust rhizomes for their root system. So just normal, average garden water is ideal. They are also able to withstand a wait between drinks.
Despite their lush, exotic appearance, they are robust and resistant hardy plants.
– Care: A very easy growing and low maintenance groundcover, so virtually no annual work to do. Asarums are largely untroubled by pests and diseases, and the glossy, tough leaves are usually not even to the taste of slugs and snails.
– Frost: Asarums are very frost hardy, even in hard frosts well below -20C.
Natural born forest dwellers
– Soil: Asarums are natural born forest dwellers, so they enjoy leaf litter and loose mulch as found on the forest floor.
Loam and clay based soils are perfect for them, while they will struggle in sandy soils.
They are happy in acid soils, and so make perfect companion groundcovers under rhododendrons, camellias and other woodland style plants.
Though they are also able to cope with a range of soil pH, on both the acid and alkaline (lime) side of neutral, and will accept quite a degree of lime if necessary.
– Fragrance: Both the foliage and the roots have a wonderful aroma of ginger.
So do plant them where you walk or brush past, and enjoy that spicy fragrance.
However don’t mistake them for culinary ginger, they are only called “Ginger” because of the delicious scent.
– Beneficial for wildlife: The weird flowers of Asarums are especially designed to attract pollinating bees, moths and butterflies. So they are an important early food source for these three endangered insect families.
Easy low care
– Growth: Asarums are slowly spreading, always making a dense carpet of lush foliage.
They will remain brightly evergreen in winter where they have overhead shade, and in milder districts. Whereas in severely cold winter, exposed areas they may go underground for a short period to protect themselves in the cold snap.
However they will be back again, lusher and denser than ever with the first whiff of spring.
– Low Care: Asarums are very low maintenance plants. They just pop along all year covering up the ground under trees and shrubs. They are virtually untroubled by any pests or diseases. And no work or pruning is required.
They are not invasive, but should your clump stray further than you want – they are easily pared back.
– Deer & Rabbit resistant: I am happy to say – Rabbits and deer don’t like the gingery taste of Asarums, despite their lush and juicy look.