Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Kirengeshomas, or yellow wax bells (there are two species available: palmata and koreana) are seldom seen around here... well, in fact I've never seen anyone else grow one, but I lead a sheltered life. I have to admit I'm somewhat ambivalent about this plant: on the plus side, any plant that blooms here in full shade in September with a nice, lemony shade of yellow has to be a plus... they remind me somewhat of squash blossoms. The leaves of kirengeshomas are maple like, though to me they are somewhat blah; slightly fuzzy and a dull, palish green. It is a very large plant (three feet tall, with another foot of flower spikes), and grows into a large clump. I think my main complaint is that there is an awful lot of foliage for the flowers; it looks very promising in early fall, with fat buds up and down the many tall flower spikes, but then the buds only open a few at a time, with the flowers quickly shattering, so that you have this huge plant with scattered flowers. Now part of this effect in my plants may be cultural: I give them no supplemental water, so they are growing dryer than they'd like: Iowa City is definitely not Honshu.
So, don't let me discourage anyone from trying this plant; maybe I'll go out and look at it again.
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My biggest complaint is it requires constant moisture. The leaves crisp at the slightest hint of drought.

I've had my plant for about ten years now. It was doing the best ever this year. Until we had some long stretches of no rain, right at the end of summer, just as it was coming into bloom. All the waxy bells were there one day, then they all fell off.

I do grow it mostly as a foliage plant, and it's lovely for that.
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