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Strelitzia juncea

A very striking plant that makes a great feature plant. It has long cylindrical leaves that end in a sharp point and they grow to about 1 to 2 meters tall. Their flowers are the same as the Strelitzia reginea and they open in spring and summer. They are very slow growing and take about 4 years to flower. Plant in the sun to get better flowering. Their growth rate can be increased with fertilizing in spring and winter. They occur naturally in the Eastern Cape so they are drought resistant and will cope with light frost. The sunbirds and sugarbirds are attracted to the nectar and the seeds are eaten by birds, mice and squirrels. Their status is listed as vulnerable because of unscrupulous collectors, alien invader encroachment and quarries. They are long lasting in a vase.

Crassula nana

This little Crassula is very low growing and is drought resistant and will withstand a light frost. It grows best in semi shade or shade and would be idea in a rockery or a hanging basket. The flowers open in summer.

Sanseviera hyacinthoides

(African Bowstring Hemp)

This is an extremely durable and tough plant with long, linear leaves, often with light green contrasting horizontal markings. It will grow in full sun but is far more vigorous and attractive grown in shade. It makes a large stem of long, narrow blooms, followed by orange fruit in summer. The rhizomes and leaves of Sanseveria are used for earache, stomach ache, toothache, ulcers, haemorrhoids, diarrhoea and internal parasites. It is an ideal plant for indoor containers as it purifies the air.

Ruellia otaviensis

This is a tough, low-growing groundcover, with funnel-shaped, purple flowers opening in the warmer months. It thrives in sun or shade and forms a good groundcover in difficult areas. It is quite drought tolerant and it should be trimmed back in late winter to keep it neat. A decoction of the leaves is given for weakness and the leaves are also used for ear complaints.

Plectranthus purpuratus

(Vicks Plant)

This very fast growing groundcover grows to 40cm high and 40cm wild. It thrives in shade or semi-shade. It has fuzzy, crinkled leaves with purple veins. The leaves are aromatic hence the common name of Vicks Plant. It produces tiny little white or purple flowers. It is an ideal plant for a hanging basket on a patio or in a container under trees. It has a lovely drooping habit as it scampers over the edge of containers.

Pentas lanceolata

(Egyptian Starcluster)

Pentas lanceolata is an excellent small shrub for a colourful garden. It grows to around 1m in height, with summer and autumn flowers like neat round bouquets of tiny stars, in colours of red, white, lavender, purple, cerise and various shades of pink. It is one of the best butterflies attracting plants. It blooms all summer long, even during the hottest weather. It seems happiest in semi shade.

Pavonia praemorsa

Pavonia praemorsa is an easy to grow perennial shrub which provides a splash of color almost all year round. The dark green leaves are shiny and leathery with shallow teeth on the edges. The stems are sometimes reddish. A rounded shrub that seldom grows to more than a meter tall. The flowers open on sunny days for just a few hours before closing and turn red before dropping off. An excellent plant for a border, hedge and screen. It is suitable for smaller gardens. It also attract bees, butterflies and other insects and these will attract the insect eating birds. It is water wise and drought resistant.

Kalanchoe sexangularis

This is a robust, erect succulent with attractive, broad green leaves that turn ruby- red in winter. The leaves are thick and heavy with irregularly lobed margins.Grown in a slightly shaded position, the leaves will be green with red edging. In full sun or cold weather the leaves turn an unusual dark wine red. Plant it in full sun and in well drained soil. It is suitable for a border in a coastal garden. It also attracts bees, butterflies and other insects which will attract the insect eating birds.

Euphorbia tirucalli

(Rubber Hedge)

The rubber-hedge euphorbia is a succulent plant which usually 3-5 m but may reach 10 m in warm climates. It grows moderately fast and thrives in moderate to warm climates. It does not cope with extreme cold or frost. It is used as a hedge and I saw a shopping centre in Nelspruit has used it as a permiter hedge with great success.It thrives in full sun. The leaves turn to various shades of yellow, orange and pink in the winter. It would look good in a rockery with Aloes and succulents or in a pot as a feature in a small garden.

Crassula ernesti

This is an evergreen low growing groundcover. It is drought resistant and it grows very fast. It thrives in a shade or semi-shade. It is an ideal plant for containers as it will spill over the edge. Mass plant under trees as the sage green colour of the leaves will look lovely in the dappled shade. It is named after Ernest Van Jaarsveld of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.


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