September Bells  – Super Purple for Spring!

September Bells – Super Purple for Spring!

Polygala myrtifolia –  Common names: September bells, Bloukappie or September bush

The first day of spring is the first of September. No other plant shouts out “spring is in the air” as the September bush. They are covered in mauve sweet pea-shaped flowers in abundance on the first day of spring.

This fast-growing, indigenous shrub grows naturally round, making it a good choice for any fynbos garden. The myrtle-like leaves are a pale green and oval-shaped on slender branches. Polygala is endemic to the West Coast all along the coastal region through to Kwazulu Natal. It occurs naturally in the coastal mountains, forest, streams and open grasslands. It needs watering when newly-planted but drought-hardy once established.

The flowers are attractive sweet pea-like, pink to purple in clusters on the tips of the branches throughout the year. But, most prolific in September (hence its common name September bush). Nectar-rich flowers are where you will find the birds and insects. The seeds are also rich in protein and are a good food source for birds. Polygala plants also serve as the larval host plant to the Lucerne Blue butterfly.  Polygala prefers sun, although it will grow in semi-shade but will flower less. The flowers are also long-lasting in a vase indoors.

September bells

Being fast-growing, they need a well-drained loamy soil. In springtime, a good mulch of organic compost will improve flowering the next year. A good prune after flowering in spring will encourage more leaf growth. Polygala will do well planted into containers, as a hedge, and as screening plants. They can be pruned into formal hedges and is a good (and beautiful!) plant for planting as a wind barrier.

Polygala fruticosa “Petite” is a dwarf variety that grows up to half a metre. Polygala virgata is a slender shrub with needle-like foliage.

This colourful evergreen shrub is a perfect plant for small and large gardens as its roots are non-invasive. Charming and tough, Polygala is a must-have shrub for your spring garden.

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