Arundo donax (also known as the Giant Reed) is another of those monstrous garden plants you either love or hate. If you’re in a very warm climate, you might find it gets quite weedy and hard to control (in fact quite invasive) but if you’re in a northern USDA zone 4/5 like I am, you lust after this plant.
- This plant prefers a moist soil and is typically found growing naturally beside rivers or creeks.
- It wants full sun but will grow in a slightly shady spot.
- Fertile soil will provide the best growing conditions and enable this plant to reach its full 18-ft (6 m) height.
- It is recommended you grow this plant out of any prevailing winds as a high wind can shred the leaves.
It self sows in warmer areas, making it a bit of a weed.
In colder areas where the seeds do not have a chance to mature (or even set the flowers) then division is needed.
It is a stout root and it will take a determined back and sharp shovel to carve off chunks of this plant.
The variegated form may not come true from division – it can revert quickly.
The species is hardy to -5C to -10C (14F) but the variegated form is more tender and will be lost fairly quickly in a USDA 4.
This is why it is recommended to grow this plant in tubs and bring indoors to a frost free area after a light frost has nipped and
killed off the tops.
I have grown this plant in a zone 4 and had it overwinter under a deep mulch of straw. It died when left uncovered.
Arundo donax variegata