Grasses and Restios

Garrickza(South Africa)March 4, 2003

Quite a few people on GW are interested in grasses and restios. Maybe GW should think of having a forum to cater for this.

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safariofthemind(z7b NC)


You should email the webmaster Spike at

Here's a good link of a Grass specialists:

and here's a link to our local university site with some pics of grasses we all grow round here:


    Bookmark   March 5, 2003 at 3:23AM
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JudithK(z8 BC)

I started growing restios a few years ago. The first was Restio tetraphyllus from Tasmania. I planted one out last spring and it is doing beautifully in a partially shaded area in heavy well draining soil amended with leaf mould. It recieves direct sun from 11am until 3pm in the summer and very little in the winter. Last year I planted out Elegia cuspidata and a few Chondropetalum tectorum. The Elegia is stunning. New culms are about 1/4" thick and about 36" tall now. It is planted under an old apple tree, gets bright indirect light most of the day until afternoon when it gets direct sun. The best Chondropetalum I have is in a 1g pot in full sun. Others are planted in partially shaded areas, but the sheaths don't seem to color up that well. I also have Elegia equistacea and E. capensis, Rhodocoma capensis, Calopsis paniculata and Thamnochortus comptonii. I bought an Restio festucaformis from Heronswood Nursery a few years ago but it is my least favorite. They all love sun, wind and water, especially when grown in pots. This spring I will plant at least one of each in the ground and keep one in a pot for insurance. New seed I'm ordering for this year will be: Cannomois virgata, (grew some a couple of years ago and killed them all) Restio brunneus, Thamnochortus insignus & Thamnochortus lucens. I highly recommend seed from Silverhills and the book 'Restios of the Fynbos' by Els Dorrat Haaksma & H. Peter Linder.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2003 at 12:07AM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

That is quite a Restio collection you have got going there... Canamois virgata is one of the *most* stunning restios in my opinion, but not the easiest to keep alive, and I am impressed that you were successful in germinating it. Here in the SF Bay Area, they seem to live the longest if grown as a container plant, and prefer very acid soil. Friends who are growing this have even gone to the effort of planting them in pure sand with lots of sulpher added as well. I am not sure of the hardiness on this one, but Elegia capensis and Chondropetalum tectorum have even become rather common here, and are exceedingly easy to grow. Although they do like regular water, they have proven to be pretty drought tolerant when planted in the ground, and tolerant of sandy to full clay soils with no special pampering.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2003 at 1:45AM
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I'm really interested in Restios. I've grown Chrondropetalum tect. for quite a few years. My current one is quite large with a canopy diameter exceeding 5-6 feet. All the photos I've seen of Ch. tect. show it as a very upright plant. In my plant the new inner "leaves" are upright, but the older outer "leaves" fall outward, making a large fan/vase shape. Is this typical?

Also, would like to know where I could buy more restios; any suggestions appreciated.


    Bookmark   September 2, 2004 at 6:57PM
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Hi Gang,

Tell me about Restio cultural requirements. One note above said, "They all love sun, wind and water, especially when grown in pots."

I'm in Houston area (zone 9a) and we have lots of humidity year round. Some African plants do fine, especially if they come from riverine or seasonally wet areas. Other African plants detest it here and die as fast as they can (e.g., Proteas spp.). They often do OK in winter but poop out when they hit July. Maybe species from Tasmania would be a better choice for this area?

So, what about Restios. Are there any that are tolerant of too much humidity, heat and rain? They sure are attractive.

Conroe Joe

Here is a link that might be useful: Elagia capensis at

    Bookmark   September 2, 2004 at 9:12PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

This forum already gets so little traffic as it is, why separate restios out from the other South Africans? As to South African restios and grasses, for the most part the restios are winter rainfall plants, and majority of grasses replace them in the summer rainfall areas. Restios have mostly adapted themselves to seasonally flooded/wet areas in winter rainfall areas, where many other fynbos plants are less adapted to seasonally wet feet, and can't grow in the same habitats.

Most of the restios being grown here in California are from Western Cape/mediterranean winter rainfall areas, and are mostly adapted to winter wet feet and summer dry conditions, although others are perfectly happy with well watered conditions year round, although I would assume they should be planted out with good drainage and air circulation in some place as hot and humid as Houston. They will certainly be easier to keep alive there than most Proteas, which are very prone to fungal diseases in hot humid summers. I would think that two of the most easily available restios such as Chondropetalum tectorum or Elegia capensis would be worth trying, and perhaps better in Texas if planted out in very large containers to ensure good drainage in summer. They are superb as specimen container plants here.

Chondropetalum tectorum naturally spreads and drapes its foliage as it gets more mature, so this is natural. You will also tend to find that with almost all restios, the succeeding year's foliage will be taller and more vigorous, if the plant is happy. In my gardens, I can usually expect stems to be a foot taller each year until they reach full height.

One of the most fully stocked local nurseries for restios is the Dry Garden Nursery in Oakland, on Shattuck Ave between Ashy and Alcatraz. Or you local retail nursery can order them from several wholesale nurseries such as Native Sons Nursery, Suncrest or Monterey Bay Nursery, as well as San Marcos Growers down in Santa Barbara.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2004 at 10:56PM
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Great to have a little discussion about Restios!

I'm quite enamored of them as youthful plants, but the few I've come across seem to get quite large in just a few years. For example, my Chondropetalum tectorum is occupying a rather large space in my smallish garden, probably occupying a diameter of 7-8'. And who knows how large my young Thamnochortus insignis is going to get - even larger I fear!

I was just reading about Elegia capensis on some website, and it was described as getting very large with actively spreading rhizomes (sounded almost like a running bamboo)...

Any suggestions for Restios that stay smaller and, optionally, adapt well to container growing?


    Bookmark   September 6, 2004 at 7:56PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

Any of these you have already mentioned will stay reasonably sized if grown as container plants, say in a 30 inch diameter sized pot... Elegia capensis also does quite well as a background planting where you have the space, ultimately you will also want to give this at least 4 square feet to grow.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2004 at 4:36PM
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coastalcamper(CA--Sunset 14)

Last year, I bought one of these from a nursery that knew almost nothing about it. At the time, it wasn't in the Sunset Western Garden Guide, either. I put it in a pot and connected it to the drip system. So far, it's doing really well but I'd love to know more about caring for it.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 7:19PM
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