What is a rice paper plant and what’s so great about it? Rice paper plant (Tetrapanax papyrifer) is a shrubby, fast-growing perennial with gigantic, tropical-looking, palmate leaves and clusters of showy white flowers that bloom in summer and fall. This is a super-huge plant that reaches widths of 5 to 8 feet (1.5-2 m.) and heights of up to 12 feet (4 m.). Growing rice paper plants is a piece of cake if you live in a climate with relatively mild winters free of long, hard freezes. Interested in learning how to grow a rice paper plant in your own garden? Read on for more information.
How to Grow a Rice Paper Plant
Consider your climate and growing zone before planting. You can grow rice paper plants year-round with no worries if you live in the warm climates of USDA plant hardiness zone 9 and above.
Rice paper plants grow in zone 7 and 8 (and maybe even zone 6) with plenty of mulch to protect the roots during the winter. The top of the plant will freeze, but new shoots will grow back from the rhizomes in spring.
Otherwise, rice paper plants grow in full sunlight or light shade. Nearly any type of soil is fine, but the plants thrive (and spread faster) in rich, moist, well-drained soil.
Rice Paper Plant Care
Care of rice paper plants is easy. Just keep the plant well-watered and provide a balanced fertilizer every spring.
Spread a thick layer of mulch around the plant in late fall if you live north of zone 8. Extend the mulch at least 18 inches (46 cm.) beyond the shoots to ensure the roots are protected.
A note about aggressiveness: Rice paper plants spread vigorously by runners beneath the soil, with new plants often popping up 10 or 15 feet (3-5 m.) away from the original plant. You may have a real jungle on your hands if you allow the plant to spread unchecked. Pull suckers as they appear. Dig up new, unwanted plants and dispose of them or give them away.