S & J Nursery’s Guide to Growing
Farfugium japonicum ‘Gigantea’
/ Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard Plant
for the Northeast Florida Landscape
( Farfugium japonicum ‘Gigantea’ )
Farfugium japonicum Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard Plant Origins:
-A big bold leaf variety of Farfugium with leaves that can range from 5″
across when young to a whopping 18″ when plants reach maturity.
– Fast growing and easy to care for, these Giant Leopard plants originate from
Asia and add an instant feel of the tropics to your Northeast Florida landscape.
Preferred Exposure of
the Farfugium japonicum Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard Plant :
– Plant these specimen plants in a shade to part sun / part shade garden location in the Northeast Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscapes. Sunnier locations may need more frequent irrigation during hot dry summer months.
Foliage and Plant Size of the Farfugium japonicum Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard Plant :
– Thick leathery dark green leaves are attention grabbing additions to the
landscape. Leaves start out at about 5 or 6 inches wide on young plants and can grow to be as wide as 18 inches on more mature specimens.
– Foliage grows in a rounded mound and can reach heights of 3-4 ft and 2-3 ft wide. A very unusual garden specimen with appeal for both the seasoned plant collector and new gardeners. These pretty plants could be utilized more in our Northeast Florida area gardens.
– Farfugium plants are cold hardy well above our semitropical climate
zones in the North Florida | Jacksonville | St. Augustine area landscape. ( Hardy in zones 8-11) and make a
reliable garden perennial planting.
Soil Preference / Salt
tolerance of the Farfugium japonicum Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard Plant :
– Farfugium japonicum Gigantea will thrive in soils that are rich and moist but that do not hold water after heavy rains. No continually wet soils. Ideally suited to any moist shady spot in the garden, but are quite tolerant of the dry soils I continually plant them into in my home garden site.
– They need well draining soils that are rich in organic matter and seem
to be quite tolerant of the dry sandy soils that I continually expose them to on my home garden site.
Don’t shy away form these plants if you have dry shady areas, just amend sandy soils generously with compost at planting time. These plants are extremely forgiving and although they will have a tendency to wilt
during hot summer months under dry conditions they bounce back quickly when watered and just keep on
– Salt tolerance unknown, it seems garden authorities are hesitant on the
subject. I have yet to try them on the ocean side of the coast but would love to find out as they are coastal members of the plant community in their native Japan.
Growth Habit of the Farfugium japonicum Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard
– Clumping perennial herb forms an attractive, upright mound of tropical foliage.
Clumps can be divided in early spring for more garden plants. Remember to water daily for a week or two after
dividing to be sure plants make a speedy recovery.
Growth Rate of the Farfugium
japonicum Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard Plant :
– Moderate to fast growing, you can expect your plant to double its height in the first year when planted from a one gallon pot. 2-3 years in the landscape under ideal conditions to mature height and width. ( a little slower in drier garden locations)
Water Requirement of the Farfugium
japonicum Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard :
– Although much more durable once established in the landscape, regular water is necessary to get the plant rooted and growing on its own after being planted in the ground from an S & J Nursery container. Use supplemental irrigation when planted in full sun or in extremely sandy soil.
Uses For Farfugium japonicum Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard Plant in the Jacksonville | St. Augustine Area Landscapes
– Farfugium is a great easy care low maintenance addition to just about any
landscape. It is no secret that I think every yard should have them in it, I get so excited when I visit a botanical garden and see that they have added a plant or two to their collection you would think I discovered the things myself. Here are a few of the ways I have seen them incorporated into our Northeast Florida landscapes.
– Farfugium plants will blend perfectly into traditional formal
landscapes or tropical gardens.
– Farfugium plants are right at home in the middle of a perennial bed amongst the flowers and blend beautifully into any Cottage garden setting.
– They make an excellent potted plant accent for the pool or patio
– Excellent pond side planting, as long as they are planted just above the
– Perfect in masses under larger trees and palms and add to the instant
eye appeal when planted near statues, seating wall areas, park benches, bird baths etc.
Care of Farfugium japonicum
Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard Plant :
– Low care landscape pant selection.
– Water every day during the establishment period after planting in the garden from a nursery container.
– Farfugium japonicum plants will need good water during the establishment period and occasional supplemental irrigation during dry spells or particularly hot dry summers if not planted into naturally moist soils.
– As with all perennial plantings, amending the soil with compost when planting your Farfugium japonicum Gigantea / Tractor Seat Plant / Giant Leopard Plant plants will help keep them healthy and happy through the years.
– Fertilize each spring with a handful of garden compost or a mixture of Milorganite or Green Edge Fertilizer and a slow release poly coated plant food such as Osmocote or Stay Green general purpose plant food or 10-10-10. I particularly like the Milorganite or even cow manure option for sandy soils each year as a surface application before you remulch the area to help the plants hold moisture.