WELCOME TO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF STONECORP PLANTS

WELCOME TO THE FASCINATING WORLD OF STONECORP PLANTS

Sedum plants are known as Stonecorp because of the saying that the only thing that lives longer than Sedum plants are stones. They are an easy-to-grow group of succulents that look great throughout the year.

The popular, adaptable Sedums are low-growing succulents with creeping stems and small, fleshy evergreen leaves in a tremendous variety of size, shapes, textures and colours. These forgiving plants are perhaps the most diverse of all the plants in the succulent world, and also the most widespread, ranging from Europe, Asia and Africa. The groundcover varieties spread easily, rooting as they grow along the soil and will fill the available space with a lush, undulating carpet that is easy to maintain.  Their cascading growth makes them excellent plants for vertical gardens, hanging baskets, retaining walls, rock gardens, slope gardening and containers. Sedums grow best in compost-enriched sandy, free-draining soil in full sun. Although they like full sun, some of the highly variegated Sedums, like Sedum ‘Angelina’, need dappled sunlight to prevent sunburn. During early summer small star-shaped flowers in clusters appear which attracts different insects, butterflies and bees. Sedums are the ideal plant for that part of your garden that gets too much sun and is in need of water-wise plants.

Exotic Sedums for your garden:

Sedum lineare Variegata: Common name Sea Urchin; has pale green foliage with creamy white margins and bright yellow flowers in summer. 

Sedum tetractinum ‘Coral Reef’: Flat growing Sedum with dark green round leaves and yellow flowers in summer. 

Sedum rubrotinctum: ‘Jelly Bean’: Resembles childhood sweets and comes in many colours from dark green to red in increased heat and sun and yellow flowers in summer. 

Sedum pachyphyllum: Also resembles jelly bean sweets but with blue-green fleshy leaves with the leaves tips tinged red. Yellow flowers in summer.

Sedum nussbaumerianum: Common name Coppertone Stone. This golden-leaved succulent on vertical rigid stems have long triangular leaves with rounded edges that go deep orange- gold in summer. Creamy white flowers in summer.

Sedum reflexum (rupestre) ‘Angelina’: Common name Golden Stonecorp. This fine-leaved Sedum, in bright yellow, needle-like foliage, is an eye-catching plant and prefers dappled sunlight to protect the leaves from sunburn. In spring, the leaves turn a lime green with bright yellow clusters of flowers on the tips of the stems. Good contrasting plant for hanging bowls and mixed containers.

Sedum reflexum (rupestre) and Sedum reflexum (rupestre) ‘Blue Spruce’: They are blue-grey Sedums with the ‘Blue Spruce’ the thicker fleshy foliage and taller grower. Creamy flowers in summer.

Sedum album Athoum: Flat, dark green growing Sedum with clusters of star-shaped flowers in summer. Forms a dense carpet.

Growing Sedum plants are easy and with a large variety to choose from, you will surely find a few that will work for your garden and brighten up your life.

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GROWING SENECIO IN YOUR GARDEN

GROWING SENECIO IN YOUR GARDEN

Senecio ficiodes and Senecio mandraliscae are the two plants you need to plant in your garden for contrast.  With its blue-green foliage, it makes a striking display against any other colour foliage. And, they are indigenous to South Africa. Both of these plants like well-drained soil enriched with compost, prefer full sun to partial shade and are water-wise plants that can tolerate long periods without water. 

Senecio ficiodes

Senecio ficiodes or ‘Blue Chalk Sticks’ the common name, is a large, upright shrub that branches at the base with multiple stems that grows until they fall over and root along the stem. When you plant a young Senecio ficiodes, pinch it back to force branching. The leaves are thick and fleshy and small white flowers appear in summer. Senecio ficiodes needs to be pruned back in late summer after flowering.

Senecio mandraliscae

Senecio mandraliscae or ‘Small Blue Sticks’ the common name, is a spreading succulent with blue-green, finger-like fleshy leaves with small white flowers in summer. It grows quickly, forming a dense blue mat which makes it a perfect border, groundcover and container plant. It needs to be pruned back in late summer. 

Senecio rowleyanus and Senecio radicans

Senecio rowleyanus and Senecio radicans are good containers or hanging basket plants. Being also indigenous to South Africa, they need the same requirements as the Senecio ficiodes and mandraliscae except that they require more shade. Both occur naturally in nature under bushes or between rocks which provides them protection from intense sunlight. The make good plants for hanging baskets on your stoep.

Senecio rowleyanus

Senecio rowleyanus or better known as ‘String of Pearls’ is a creeping succulent with round leaves on long stems cascading over the edges of the hanging basket or container. They can be grown indoors in bright light. Daisy-like, white flowers appear in summer with a sweet smell like cinnamon and cloves. These flowers are followed by seeds with a crown of long white hairs, which assists in wind dispersal. 

Senecio radicans

Senecio radicans or ‘String of Bananas’ is a creeping succulent with leaves that are shaped like small bananas on long stems. It grows quickly and is easily propagated. ‘String of bananas’ flowers throughout the year but with more flowers in autumn and in winter. It attracts a wide range of insects and the seeds are also dispersed by wind.

Senecio species are an interesting group of easy-to-care succulent plants. Take care not to overwater them and protect them from frost.

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THE ULTIMATE SURVIVORS – SUCCULENTS

THE ULTIMATE SURVIVORS – SUCCULENTS

If nurseries were to develop a group of plants perfectly suited to the lifestyle in the 21st  century, they could not do better than nature has done over hundreds of years, in creating the succulents and its fellow cacti plants. They can thrive because their stems, leaves and roots can store water over long periods of time. With water becoming scarcer over much of Southern Africa, water wastage is no longer an option for gardeners. Although it is not correct to say that succulents and cacti thrive on neglect, they do require less water and care than many other plants. A characteristic to be admired in today’s busy world where few people can devote as much time as they would like to garden maintenance. 

WHY INVEST IN SUCCULENTS

An increasing awareness of the fragility of our planet led to indigenous plants and water-wise succulents being planted both in public spaces as well as domestic gardens, aiming at limiting water wastage. The capacity to save water makes these plants an ideal plant for every homeowner. 

Succulents come in all shapes and sizes. They range from trees, such as the tree Aloe to miniature soil-huggers, like Bulbine sp. Their spines and tough skin make them highly resistant to pest and predators. They need less pruning and fertilizers because they tend to grow slower. Feeding with an organic fertilizer once a year and a prune to keep them neat is all it will need. 

THE VERSATILITY OF SUCCULENTS

Fortunately, for those with limited outdoor space, many cacti and succulents need only a place in the sun to thrive – even a narrow window sill will do. One succulent that will grow well without any direct sunlight at all is the Mother In Law’s Tongue, making it a good indoor pot plant. Succulents can also provide a blaze of colour at various times of the year, such as Crassula Campfire with its bright red foliage, or with their flowers, like the Aloe arborescent. With their architectural shapes, succulents combine well with modern domestic dwellings and office buildings. They are also good container plants, from a small teacup to a large cement pot. Succulents also make great cut flowers – alone or bunched with other blooms. 

Some succulents are cultivated for their juice-filled leaves, roots or stems which are a natural medicine, like the Aloe Vera. Portulacaria afra (Spekboom) is also a good food source and one of a kind as a carbon-sequestration (binding atmospheric carbon) plant.

Succulents and cacti are among the most useful and strikingly beautiful plants of the Southern African landscape and quite often we are unaware of the botanical jewels around us. 

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GROWING CRASSULAS

GROWING CRASSULAS

If you are looking for water-wise, low maintenance plants, indigenous Crassula is just the plants you need. In South Africa, there are more than 150 species of Crassulas growing, and their shape, leaf colour, size and flowers set them apart from all the other members of the stonecrop family.

The best reason for growing Crassulas is their diversity. They are hardy, evergreen, easy-to-propagate and grow.  They attract bees, butterflies and other insects to your garden.  Crassulas are the right plants for any garden.

Crassulas are invaluable groundcovers –

Particularly in dry gardens. Crassula capitella ‘Campfire’, Crassula capitella ‘Red Pagoda’ and Crassula fragilis are great for covering up dry open spaces. For those dry shady spots, Crassula multicava is the one, and even Crassula fragilis can grow under dappled shady areas.

The foliage colour –

The Crassula capitella ‘Campfire’ foliage colour turns from lime green to rich orange and even red when exposed to the sun and water – a real eye-catcher. Crassula capitella ‘Red Pagoda’ and the Crassula ovata’s red edges, Crassula ovata ‘Gollum’ or ‘Shrek’s Ears’ different texture and the Crassula ovata ‘Sunsets’ yellow edges are a good contrast against other green-leaved plants. Crassula ovata is a great flowering shrub for wintertime. It’s known by its common name, Jade Plant or Pink Joy because of its stunning display in winter.  This is when it’s covered in masses of pale pink, star-shaped flowers. Bees and butterflies love them.

Crassulas are ideal plants for containers, vertical gardens, hanging baskets and retaining walls

Crassulas planted in containers can provide you with year-round interest and reduce the amount of time and money you spend. Container planting is ideal for those with little or no space for gardening. Crassula muscosa, with the common name ‘Rastafari’ – named for its dreadlock-like stems – is a good container plant, as well as Crassula ovata. Crassula pellucida and Crassula spathulata are great vertical gardens, hanging baskets or retaining wall plants.

Crassula tetragona and Crassula ovata make great bonsai specimens

Crassula tetragona can also be used as a living Christmas tree for years.

Crassula species can also be used as indoor plants – 

Provided they have a warm sunny position close to a window.

Crassula species lives up to many expectations. They are wind resistant, tolerant of coastal conditions, grow easily in any well-drained soil with plenty of compost added.  Note that they need to be watered sparingly in summer. The only thing Crassulas don’t like is frost.

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GET YOUR HEAD IN THE STARS WITH THE STAR JASMINE

GET YOUR HEAD IN THE STARS WITH THE STAR JASMINE

Trachelospermum jasminoides

Common name: Star Jasmine

Trachelospermum jasminoides is an exceptional evergreen climber from China and is not only grown for its fragrant little white flowers, but also for its delicate foliage.

A truly lovely climber with a dense habit and glossy dark green leaves, with new growth in the spring showing as lime green. Noted for its diverse uses, either a climbing twining plant or as a low spreading groundcover plant. They twine themselves round anything and is famed for its reliability to cover anything.  Particularly effective at providing screening for fences or for growing over trellises and pergolas. Trachelospermum jasminoides is also a good container plant with or without a framework. The fragrant, white, star-shaped flowers from October to January and are produced in abundant clusters, with a divine scent, especially at night.

Star Jasmine thrives in full sun to part shade and prefers fertile, well-drained soil, however, they need a fairly sheltered position from cold winds and frost.  They are, also, drought tolerant when they are fully established. Fertilise them with compost after flowering and give them good mulch to keep the soil cool. They are fairly fast-growing once established.

Being low maintenance, prune groundcover plants after flowering and also trim climbing Star Jasmine to keep it neat. Be careful when pruning because the stem contains a white milky fluid that can irritate your skin.

Being fairly pest-free, fragrant, low maintenance and water-wise, the Star Jasmine deserves a place in every garden.

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