BEHOLD, THE SUN KING!
No, not Louis XIV of France, rather, a fabulous high-impact perennial. Aralia ‘Sun King’ brings a bold pop of glowing color and texture – the perfect anchor for the shade to shade-to-part-shade border. “Discovered” by plantsman Barry Yinger in a Japanese garden center (atop a department store), this perennial has become a beloved shade garden staple across the country. Bright yellow shoots emerge in spring, then grow up, up, up…can reach 6′ tall and nearly as wide. The small, cream-colored umbels of flowers are attractive to bees and are followed by tiny dark (inedible) drupes. Despite the Sun King’s stature, it’s very well behaved – little to no reseeding or suckering.
USDA Zones 3 to 9
Part shade to full shade. A few hours of sun brings out the yellow; tends to be
more chartreuse in deeper shade.
Not picky – but can flag during dry spells, so provide additional water as necessary.
Terrific in combination with hosta, ferns, and past PPOY stars such as Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’ (2013) and Brunnnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ (2012). A knockout when placed near Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ or other maroon-leaf woody. And don’t forget containers – Sun King is bold and beautiful in
a big pot!
Bold, gold, compound foliage is deer resistant. Bigger than your average perennial, Sun King is frequently described as 4’ tall and as wide, once established, but 6’ tall is not unusual for older plants. Aralia ‘Sun King’ won the International Hardy Plant Union Outstanding Plant Award in 2012. The species Aralia cordata is a member of the Araliaceae family. Native to Japan, Korea, and SE China, where the young shoots are harvested and blanched or pickled.
Low maintenance deciduous perennial; remove dead foliage after a freeze. Supplemental water helps keep foliage from getting crispy during a dry spell.