Smith County Master Gardener
Remember the beautiful and colorful leaves of hosta and caladium and how you wished they would last all winter, but knew they wouldn’t? Well here is a lovely replacement for them for your winter garden. Arum italicum Pictum is the name and a winter knockout it is.
Arums have been around for eons, but not so much in our area even though they are perfect for East Texas. They grow in zones 7 and up and they do not freeze back even in our hardest winters.
Little tubers lie dormant all summer, needing nothing at all, but taking whatever water you care to give the other things in the bed or less. Beautiful arrow shaped leaves with bright white veins begin to unfurl in late autumn and all winter look much like a beautiful hosta. They bloom an insignificant bloom in spring then in summer, they put up a spike of bright red berries that resembles a small cob of corn. They last several weeks.
I have had arums for about 15 years and each patch has grown significantly. I can’t think of a more well-behaved plant. It will pop up wherever a seed drops or is carried by a bird, and is easily moved or shared with others. It would make a lovely potted plant for an outdoor container when winter color is needed.
Wouldn’t a clump look lovely with little white viola planted all around? Look for arums in bulb catalogs. Unfortunately, you never see them offered in nurseries.
Dee Bishop is a Smith County Master Gardener. She writes about plants found in Tyler Rose Garden.