Native to both Asia and the South, these shade-loving perennials are worthy but relatively unknown additions to the woodland garden. In spring, colorful, bamboolike shoots emerge from rhizomes in shades of white, pink, purple-pink, or green. Shiny leaves are lance shaped. Fragrant spring flowers are bell shaped and dangle at the ends of the arching stems. Flowers are followed by purplish black berries. Plant in moist soil, rich in organic matter. Although many are evergreen, a cutback in early spring assures attractive new growth.
D. cantoniense. CHINESE FAIRY BELLS. Zones US, MS, LS, CS, TS; USDA 6-11. From China, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas. The plant forms an upright clump 3 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide and dies to the ground in cold weather. Flowers can be white or purple.
D. longistylum. Almost exclusively grown as one of the following selections. 'Green Giant' has white flowers and grows 46 ft. tall. 'Night Heron' has creamy white flowers born against dark purple spring foliage that fades to blackish green. Grows 24 ft. tall.
D. sessile. JAPANESE FAIRY BELL. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. 'Awa-no-tsuki' makes a show all season with creamy yellow leaves edged in green, growing 1215 in. tall. 'Variegatum' has green and white striations on each leaf, reaching 912 in tall.
D. uniflorum (D. flavens). This handsome fairy bell from Korea has soft yellow blooms on stalks that reach 2 ft. tall and 2 ft. wide.