We might be fiercely competitive with Australia on the sports field, but when it comes to plants it’s easy to acknowledge their winners, like the all-round toughie ‘Kangaroo Paw’ (Anigozanthos).
Bush Gems Celebrations is a collection of compact perennial flowering plants for the garden and containers. The flower colours are psychedelic, and the tubular flowers are covered in a velvety fuzz that resembles the kangaroo paw. The slender strappy green leaves are similar to daylilies.
The Bush Gems range consists of four hybrids bred to be tough, disease tolerant plants with large flowers on strong stems.
They are quick growers with a long flowering period from mid-Spring to mid-Autumn. All Bush Gems need well-drained soil on the sandy side. They can be planted in full sun or partial shade. Their water requirements are low once established, although some summer watering will encourage new growth and continual flowering. Feed with a slow release fertilizer like Vigorosa in Autumn and Spring. Protect from heavy frost.
What makes them water wise? These naturally hardy plants have an underground rhizome enables the plant to conserve water and use it to keep the foliage hydrated during times of drought. They can adapt to a variety of climates and conditions making them hassle-free landscape plants as well as tough container plants.
Aussie Spirit Anigozanthos
The light turquoise-green flowers of ‘Aussie Spirit’ rise from a golden base that give these flowers a glowing quality, especially when caught by the sun’s rays. This is the most compact plant in the Bush Gems range, ideal for patios.
Growing tip: Make sure it receives full morning sun (at least six hours). With less sun the stems tend to flop. Plants can tolerate hot afternoon sun but may have to be watered more often.
The rich purple flowers of Carnivale contrast with the soft blue-green foliage, to provide a burst of colour, as evidenced in this container-grown pool-side plant. It is well suited to tub and pot displays and is spectacular when planted en masse (like a field of lavender).
Growing tip: Plants don’t like soggy soil and should only be watered when the top few centimetres are dry. In very hot weather they can be given additional water, especially when in full flower.
The combination of electric pink and blue flowers is a colour breakthrough for the Kangaroo Paw.
This is a plant that’s to be appreciated close up, so make it a feature of a patio or pool side lounging area. Fertilise in spring before the flower stalks appear and top up with some compost during the growing season to encourage healthy growth.
Growing tip: For container plants, use a good quality potting soil, amended with a few handfuls of sand. This mimics the sandy soil in which kangaroo paws grow in Australia. Make sure the pots have adequate drainage holes. Plants in pots need to be watered more often that garden plants.
This is the first blue Anigozanthos, an iridescent combination of purple and teal flowers. It is also a compact grower. Although they thrive in dry conditions Anigozanthos can tolerate some humidity too.
Growing tip: Don’t be afraid to cut back the flowers, stems and leaves to about 12 cm above the soil after the flowers have faded. The plant will send up new bushy growth and a second smaller flush of blooms towards the end of the growing season. Pruning also removes the old growth that could be diseased.
For more information visit Ball Straathof.
TEXT: Alice Coetzee.