Xanthosoma 'Lime Zinger'

Xanthosoma Lime Zinger with Colocasia esculenta Black Magic

Xanthosoma 'Lime Zinger' is a member of the Araceae family, thus closely related to similar-looking Alocasia and Colocasia plants, with their dramatic 'elephant's ear' leaves. This plant is sometimes indeed referred to as an Alocasia. It has glowing chartreuse foliage, and is said to grow to more than a metre tall with a similar spread. It will grow in the ground or in a pot, and needs plenty of moisture and soil enriched with organic matter to flourish. It seems to do best in a part-shaded position, as too much sun can potentially scorch the leaves; too much shade, however, can make the leaves become green rather than gold.

Xanthosoma Lime Zinger in the garden of Sandra Wilson in Sydney

There are around 45 species of Xanthosoma, including the most commonly seen X. sagittifolium, but the parentage of 'Lime Zinger' is unclear. The plant hails from tropical America and it grows from a tuber, which multiply over time; division of these is the best way to propagate the plant. In very cold areas, the plants need the protection of a greenhouse over winter. In our Sydney climate, they should survive the colder months if they have an overhead canopy to protect them; the leaves may die off but the tuber should be OK. There are few pests and diseases of the plant, but snails may feast on the foliage.

Possible companion plants include its cousin the dark-leaved Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic' (as shown in the first photo above) for a striking contrast of colour yet close similarity of form; it could also be grown nearby to form a colour echo to the spots on the foliage of the gold dust plant (Aucuba japonica 'Variegata', ht 1.8 m), a tough variegated-leaf plant for part-shaded positions. However, surrounded by plain green-leaved plants, it will also look superb.