Posted by Jessie Jacobson on Jun 10th 2024

Aralia cordata (Spikenard) 

If you're looking for a bold, dramatic plant for your shade garden, Aralia cordata, commonly known as Japanese Spikenard, will thrill even the most seasoned gardener. Named the 2020 Perennial Plant of the Year by the Perennial Plant Association, this member of the Araliaceae plant family sports glowing chartreuse foliage easily reaching 3-4 ft tall each season creating a stunning statement in your landscape.


Japanese Spikenard grows best in moist, humic, well-drained soil in part to full shade, but it can handle clay or sandy soil. Under the right growing conditions, Spikenard can mature to a height of 6 ft with a 6 ft spread so make sure to give them plenty of space. It’s a low maintenance plant with no serious insect or disease problems so just keep an eye out for aphids, slugs, spider mites, and occasional leaf spot. Spikenard benefits from an annual application of slow-release fertilizer such as Espoma's Organic Plant Tone or Purple Cow's Activated Compost.  


Native to Japan, Korea, and parts of China, Aralia cordata has clusters of large compound leaves of bright, light-green foliage that appear in the spring and are surprisingly resistant to deer. Tender young shoots are edible and are often blanched and eaten as a vegetable. In mid-to-late summer, tiny white flowers form on tall, spike-like panicles attracting bees and other pollinators. Deep red to purple inedible berries ripen in the fall becoming food for hungry birds. Interestingly in Korea, the dried root of this plant has been used as medicine to treat inflammation, fever, and pain. Two of Tonkadale’s favorites are Sun King’ and ‘Gotemba’.


Happy planting. See you at Tonkadale!