High Desert Plant Finder & Guide


Giant Japanese Butterbur

Petasites japonicus 'var. giganteus'

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Giant Japanese Butterbur (Petasites japonicus 'var. giganteus') at Moana Nursery

Giant Japanese Butterbur foliage

Giant Japanese Butterbur foliage

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Giant Japanese Butterbur (Petasites japonicus 'var. giganteus') at Moana Nursery

Giant Japanese Butterbur

Giant Japanese Butterbur

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height:  5 feet

Spacing:  4 feet

Sunlight:  full sun  partial shade 

Hardiness Zone:  4


An imposingly coarse spreading plant with enormous leaves that give it an almost prehistoric appeal; an interesting addition to the bog or moist shade garden.

Ornamental Features

Giant Japanese Butterbur's attractive enormous round leaves remain green in color with curious silver undersides throughout the season. It features bold spikes of creamy white flowers rising above the foliage in early spring before the leaves. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Giant Japanese Butterbur is a dense herbaceous perennial with a rigidly upright and towering form. Its wonderfully bold, coarse texture can be very effective in a balanced garden composition.

This is a high maintenance plant that will require regular care and upkeep, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. Gardeners should be aware of the following characteristic(s) that may warrant special consideration;

  • Invasive

Giant Japanese Butterbur is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • Shade
  • Mass Planting
  • Groundcover
  • Naturalizing And Woodland Gardens
  • Bog Gardens

Planting & Growing

Giant Japanese Butterbur will grow to be about 4 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 5 feet. When grown in masses or used as a bedding plant, individual plants should be spaced approximately 4 feet apart. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 20 years.

This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. It prefers to grow in moist to wet soil, and will even tolerate some standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. Consider applying a thick mulch around the root zone in both summer and winter to conserve soil moisture and protect it in exposed locations or colder microclimates. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets. It can be propagated by division; however, as a cultivated variety, be aware that it may be subject to certain restrictions or prohibitions on propagation.

Hardiness Zone Plant Height Minimum Sunlight
Accent  Shade  Massing  Groundcover  Naturalizing  Bog 
Flowers  Foliage Color  Texture 
Ornamental Features

Please note: Our Plant Guide is all about plants that will work in the high desert. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a current list of plants in stock on hand at each location or at our farm. We purposely do not sell or ship plants via the internet. Plant questions and availability are best determined in-store.