Aralia cordata ‘Sun King’

May 22, 2013

Sun King Aralia

Some people are suckers for variegated foliage but not me. I can easily pass up a one of a kind variegated pine or magnolia. Show me a chartreuse leaved plant though and you have my attention. My affection for chartreuse first started with Salvia ‘Golden Delicious’ and then ‘Wasabi’ coleus but now I am enamored with Aralia cordata ‘Sun King.’ With the compound foliage and large, clumping form, Sun King aralia provides a punch needed to a New England landscape. We have several plants at CMBG planted en masse. When this perennial began emerging several weeks ago, it was like the sun was rising out of the ground. Not really, but it was nice to see such bright foliage after a long, dark winter. We have our plants sited in full sun but the further south you go, the more shade you want to give this plant. I imagine that as you move into warmer climes, that there is a greater potential for leaf burn to occur with direct or afternoon sun. If you are unsure how it will do in your garden, you might want to try it first in a woodland garden or shady spot. Once Sun King aralia is established, it will form a 3’x3′ clump of that wonderful, bright chartreuse foliage. It does produce white flowers in the summer followed by black berries in late summer into early fall.

Aralia cordata 'Sun King' flower close-up

This Aralia was brought back to the United States from Japan by the wonderful plantsman, Barry Yinger. Supposedly, he found it amongst the racks at a department store garden shop.

If you have not grown this plant yet, give it a go as I am sure the bright foliage will give your garden that pop it needs.


Photos: Terra Nova Nursery flickr,

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