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Take a seat

Tractor seat plant is a large, lovely garden addition

Plant trends can seem to change as fast as the weather. Suddenly, plants that have been around forever catch someone’s eye, and then we are all looking for them. The tractor seat plant, or Farfugium japonicum var. giganteum (formerly Ligularia), underwent a name change not long ago and now it’s trendy. 

ALSO CALLED THE LEOPARD PLANT, it is most often treated as a tropical plant in our area, although it is hardy to USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7. We are its northern boundary, so overwintering it can be problematic, especially if it is not in the perfect location. If you dare to see if it will survive the winter, plant it in a shady, moist, boggy area and see how it goes. 

WITH A TROPICAL LOOK, its large, glossy dark green leaves can be 12 to 18 inches wide. The leaves stand 2 feet tall, and it makes an impressive show whether grown in a container or in the ground. Yellow, daisy-like flowers stand above the leaves in late summer and early fall. 

IF GROWN IN A CONTAINER, it needs to be placed in an area that is shady or partly shady, with preferably no hot afternoon sun. A consistently moist environment is a must. You can imagine the dramatic wilting that will occur with these large leaves if it gets too dry or is planted in an area with too much sun. If it’s planted in a container, the larger the container the better to help with keeping the soil moist. Water it frequently. 

THE PERFECT ENVIRONMENT TO GROW the tractor seat plant is a hot and humid Kentucky summer. Whether on your shady porch or patio, or tucked in a shady spot in your garden, this plant’s impressive size and beauty will make you smile.

SHELLY NOLD is a horticulturist and owner of The Plant Kingdom. Send stories and ideas to her at The Plant Kingdom, 4101 Westport Road, Louisville, KY 40207. 

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