South African Winter Bloomers

bahia(SF Bay Area)December 3, 2004

There are so many underappreciated winter blooming wildflowers, shrubs and succulents from both winter and summer rainfall areas of South Africa that do well here in coastal California. I'd be interested to hear what some of your favorites are. I'll start with a few of my favorites:

Ribbon Flower/Hyposestes aristata- a vision of lavender purple this time of year, and blooms for months. The herbacous shrub covers itself with masses of flowers, the only drawback is that it needs midsummer pinching back to keep it compact enough to avoid staking/tying up with the arrival of winter rains and wind.

Plectranthus species, especially P. ecklonii, the hybrid P. 'Mona Lavender', and P. zuluensis- Unfortunately P. ecklonii doesn't tend to keep blooming for 4 months like it apparently can in South Africa, but it is still pretty dramatic in October/November here, and I like both the deep purple form and the rosy pink forms that I grow. Mona Lavender has even more interesting foliage and a much longer lasting flower, and seems to hold up to winter rains much better. P. zuluensis never stops blooming in my garden, but is especially showy in lavender bloom in winter, as long as it doesn't freeze back

Nerine bowdenii- I love this farewell to summer, it just appears as such an unlikely winter color and size, and the neon pink flowers really stand out in the winter garden.

Veltheimia bracteata-such beautiful foliage and long lasting blooms, and so undemanding a plant as long as it doesn't freeze. The flowers easily last several months in my garden.

Cotyledon orbiculata var macrantha-another winner with masses of showy tubular orange and pink flowers and showy foliage, much loved by the local hummingbirds

Aloe 'Johnson's Hybrid'- a local cross made in southern California, and virtually everblooming here, quickly forming large grassy clumps, perhaps a cross with A. thompsoniae

Aloe ferox, A. marlothii and A. arborescens cultivars-all either in bud/bloom spike at present, or already blooming, such as A. arborescens red and yellow forms,(yellow always seems to bloom first and passes more quickly for me)

Strelitzia reginae and S. juncea-need no introduction, but certainly prime bloomers in a winter garden

Protea 'Pink Ice'- a hybrid species that is also the easiest, hardiest one to grow, and is almost never without its typical pink blooms here in coastal California.

Bulbine frutescens and B. f. 'Hallmark'-perhaps less interesting for being so easy to grow and so vigorous that it needs periodic dividing and replanting to keep within bounds, but year round good evergreen grassy foliage, and 100's of waving flower spikes of pure yellow or yellow and orange nearly year round, especially in winter.

None of these plants is planted as commonly as one would assume here in northern California, yet are proven performers in milder coastal gardens, and combine beautifully with California natives and other mediterranean climate species.

What are some of your favorite winter blooming South Africans?

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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

(*sigh*)

On the Arizona forum, people like you are known as 'enablers' - someone who shows us what wonderful plants there are out there; they tease and entice us until our resolve breaks and we yell "Yes! I MUST have at LEAST one of EVERYTHING!" And then, in my case, can't find them.

Thankfully, you are in the wrong zone ... although we can grow the Strelitzia reginae in the shade, the Bulbines and the aloes, also with some protection from our incredible sun. It's amazing how many plants are from South Africa and I wasn't even aware.

I am quite jealous of your Plectranthus (sp?) - I Googled the image files and they are gorgeous.

Thanks for the enabling....

    Bookmark   December 20, 2004 at 10:56PM
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MarcR(z 8 OR)

I specialize in Iridaceae. Many are winter blooming and most are hardy to Z 7 or 8. I also grow many Ericas, and those members of Rubiaceae, Malvaceae, and Scrophulariaceae which are hardy in Z8.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 3:17PM
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deeds1(the far SWUK-9)

So do I Marc, and I find only a very few are hardy to Zone 7, even with excellebt drainage they need extra protection in the winter.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 9:55AM
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MarcR(z 8 OR)

Hardy to Z7:

Aristea angolensis, A. cognata, Crocosmia aurea, C. pottsii, Dierma dracomontanum, D. igneum, D. insigne, D. luteoalbidum, D. pauciflorum, D. pulcherimum, D. renoldsii, Gladiolus crassifolius, G. dalenii, G. eklonii, G. imbricans, G. papilio, G. saundersii, G. varius, (Gynandiris) Moraea sisyrinchium, Hesperantha (Schizostylis) bauerii, Moraea alticola,M. inclinata, M. reticulata, M. spathulata, Watsonia pillansii, Witsenia maura. Almost all SA Iridaceae is hardy to Z8 and will survive Z7 with protection.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 2:05AM
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