Are you looking for a low-growing evergreen plant to use around trees and in the shade? Are you frustrated with voles, deer, and rabbits eating your hostas? Then look no further! Nippon Lily (Rhodea japonica) will grow in partial to heavy shade and reaches a height and width of 2 feet. It’s a broadleaf perennial with leathery, glossy dark green, strap-like leaves.
The genus name Rhodea translates to 10,000 years green in Chinese and means good fortune. It’s very popular in Japan and is usually given as a present to celebrate an event such as a housewarming or birthday. Over 600 cultivars have been registered there.
Nippon lilies grow best in organically rich soils with good drainage. Once these beauties are well established, they will tolerate drought conditions. They have no major insect pests but can be affected by an anthracnose fungal leaf spot disease (Colletotrichum liriope) which can be treated with a copper sulfate fungicide spray. Fungicide applications should be applied at the first sign of leaf spots and mixed according to the label instructions. Make sure the foliage is dry and spray in the late evening to allow more time for the copper sulfate to dry. Wait until any new tender foliage has hardened off to prevent injury to the tissue.
It grows throughout South Carolina from the mountains to the coast in USDA planting zones 6 to 10. When the clump is large, it can easily be dug up and divided for replanting. It blooms in the summer and has inconspicuous whitish-green flowers. Bright red berry clusters are visible in the fall at the base of the green foliage. Another plus is that Nippon lilies are deer and rabbit resistant, making them an excellent addition to a garden with frequent nibblers.