Farfugium japonicum (far-FEW-gee-um juh-PON-ih-kum), formerly known as Ligularia tussilaginea (lig-yew-LAR-ee-ah, tuss-ill-uh-GIN-ee-uh), pays homage to its native land on the seashores and streams in Japan, where it’s called Tsuwabuki.
This plant can also be found growing in the rocky coastal areas of Korea and Taiwan.
The leopard plant is a species of herbaceous perennial flowering plant belonging to the family Asteraceae.
Like other species of Asteraceae:
… Farfugium japonicum is cultivated as an ornamental plant.
Use them in both gardens and pots to brighten up shaded gardening areas.
The small bright flowers and shiny leaves create a striking contrast and look very pretty planted among other flowering plants.
Larger varieties produce large leaves covering pots, centering the attention on the small daisy-like flowers blooming in the fall.
You may hear it called by its common name, including:
- Leopard Plant
- Green Leopard Plant
- Tractor seat plant
It is also known by the plant synonym Ligularia kaempferi.
Named varieties you may find include:
- Farfugium japonicum ‘aureomaculatum’
- farfugium japonicum var giganteum
Farfugium Japonicum Care
Size and Growth
The Giant Leopard plant is grown for its striking glossy foliage and daisy-like flowers.
This choice container plant has a medium growth rate and sprouts in a loose clump about 24” inches tall and wide.
It spreads by rhizomes, creating a carpet of large green leaves often marked with yellow or cream-colored spots.
It is an evergreen perennial that stays in leaf all year.
It is also a hermaphrodite, meaning it contains both male and female organs.
Bees and other insects pollinate the plant, spreading its growth.
Flowering and Fragrance
Besides the attractive foliage of large leaves, Leopard plants are also appreciated for their tiny yellow flowers that provide a pop of color in late summer.
The yellow daisy-like flowers bloom in the fall and winter and are borne in loose clusters.
Each yellow daisy flower is about 1”-2” inches across and looks pretty at bloom time, elevated above the shiny green leaves.
Light and Temperature
Farfugium japonicum var giganteum is hardy to USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9, growing well in various conditions and locations.
When it comes to light, Leopard plants tend to prosper in partial shade to full shade areas such as shade gardens. However, it grows best in deep shade.
Although they can grow in full sun, leopard plants are highly susceptible to wilting on very bright sunny days when they are planted without any light shade, especially in warm climates.
As for temperature, the plant is not considered too hardy and doesn’t tolerate below-freezing or very high temperatures.
They do best in tropical climates with temperatures above 20° degrees Fahrenheit (-6° C) but can survive temperatures down to 0° degrees Fahrenheit (-18° C).
If you live in an area with harsh winters, bring your Gigantea inside or plant it in a container during the colder months to ensure its survival.
Watering and Feeding
Leopard plants require consistent moisture in the soil.
This is because, in their native habitat, they are most commonly found near streams and coastal areas.
Make sure to keep a close eye on the soil and keep it moist, especially during the hot late summers. Moreover, you can mist the leaves to increase humidity.
Avoid both overwatering and letting the soil dry out completely.
Both extremes can cause damage, implicating the plant’s health and survival.
The plants also need fertile soil to prosper, so feed them regularly with slow-release balanced fertilizer, but don’t overdo it.
Soil and Transplanting
As mentioned previously, Leopard plants love rich, moist soil.
Provided it has good drainage, use sandy, loamy, and clay soils for planting Ligularia tussilaginea.
These shade perennials also thrive in well-drained soils that are organically rich and loamy.
A pH between 5.6 and 7.5 is suitable for Leopard plants.
When you propagate Leopard plants with seeds, you’ll be starting them in pots placed inside a greenhouse.
When the plants have been established, plant them in their permanent locations in the ground or in bigger pots.
The suitable time for transplanting the plants is in late spring or early summer.
Use well-drained, moist, and humus-rich soil to plant Farfugium japonicum in a semi-shaded location.
Grooming and Maintenance
Leopard plants have very minimum maintenance needs.
You don’t necessarily need to prune them or do much to keep them healthy and thriving.
The one thing you need to be careful about is watering and lighting.
If you have a particularly sunny and hot summer ad your Leopard plant is located in full sun, add shade to avoid wilting.
Also, keep the soil moist at all times, as this clump-forming perennial doesn’t respond well to dry soil.
How to Propagate Leopard Plant
Propagate leopard plants from seeds and by the division of the root ball.
If you’re using seeds for propagation, sow them in a cold frame during springtime.
Once the plants have grown large enough to handle, prick the seedlings and transplant them into individual pots.
Keep them inside in a greenhouse during the first winter, planting them outside once the last spring frosts have passed in late spring or early summer.
Division is done in the spring. Simply divide the root ball or take offsets after new growth has started, planting them in individual pots for the coming winter.
Green Leopard Plant Pest or Disease Problems
Leopard plants are susceptible to common plant pests and diseases. The most common pest is snails and slug attacks.
Leopard plants contain tumorigenic pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which make the plant poisonous if ingested.
Suggested Leopard Plant Uses
In some areas, the stems of the Leopard plants have edible uses. The stems are boiled in water to remove the bitter taste.
The outer layer is then peeled, and the stems are added to salads, soups, etc.
Other than this, Leopard plants are used mainly for their beauty.
They look great planted in woodland gardens, moist meadows, bog gardens, flowerbeds, large bowls, under larger trees, shade gardens, and in boundaries.
Leopard plants also work well with astilbe, columbines, ferns, hostas, and other fine-textured shade plants.
They also attract pollinators and other beneficial insects like butterflies and bees.