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Gardening in South Africa

The spectacular flowers of the paintbrush lily will have your friends and family reaching for their cameras!

Scadoxus puniceus. Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaScadoxus puniceus. Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaThe spectacular paintbrush lily is a member of the Amaryllis family (Amaryllidaceae) and one of South Africa's most striking bulbous plants with its large, glossy green tropical leaves, brilliant bright-red paintbrushes and fat red fruits.  The name Scadoxus is derived from "doxus" meaning glory or splendour, and ‘’punicues’’ meaning crimson, scarlet or purple. The 9 species are found in tropical Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where they can be found growing wild in tropical woodlands. Three species: S. puniceus, S. multiflorus and S. membranaceus occur in South Africa. Scadoxus was formerly classified as Haemanthus to which it is closely related, but was separated in order to distinguish those plants with elongated stems (Scadoxus) from those with broad, stemless leaves (Haemanthus).

Plant a "carbon sponge" in your garden or home with the beautiful Spekboom

Portulacaria afra. Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaPortulacaria afra. Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaThe spekboom belongs to a large and widespread family (Portulacaceae) which includes the popular summer flowering annual Portulaca, although this annual is not a South African species. Portulacaria afra has a growing reputation for saving the planet and recent research has dubbed the spekboom "an excellent carbon sponge" because of its ability to absorb more free carbon from the atmosphere than most other plants. Studies have shown that this amazing succulent can store more than four tons of carbon per hectare, creating what is called a "carbon sink" when planted in large plantations, and making it one of the best plants to grow in order to combat warming of the earth's atmosphere. In fact, this beautiful yet unassuming succulent has become so famous it even has its own Facebook page!

Peace Lilies are one of the best plants for improving air quality indoors.

Peace lilies are one of the most commonly known houseplants and also one of the easiest to grow. They may also be grown outdoors in frost free conditions. The NASA Clean Air Study found that these plants are fantastic for improving air quality indoors because they have one of the top removal rates of toxic solvents like formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene and carbon monoxide.

Summer flowers to beat the heat

Gazanias grow well with grasses. Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaGazanias grow well with grasses. Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaDoes your summer flower garden start to fizzle out as soon as the really hot weather arrives? If so, you need a new plan to keep your beds blooming. The good news is that while many plants and flowers seem to be fainting away, there are others which just breeze through the mid-summer heat.

If you plant a framework of hardy perennials now, which will bloom again next season, inter-planted with summer annuals which thrive in the heat, your garden will not only look great this summer, but next season as well. Reducing the amount of summer annuals you need to plant each season will not only save you a lot of cash but also a lot of time. Also, many of these plants are water-wise and will save you on water bills. You can experiment a little each season until you find combinations that suit you, your garden, and your climate.

I have re-published this article from last year because it was so popular.

Bold Bright and Beautiful

Celosia Celosia If bold, bright and beautiful is what you are after, then December’s companions are right up your alley. Celosia offers up a colour feast of red, orange, yellow, hot pink, rose, mahogany and magenta which are vivid and remain so for about eight weeks while Portulaca, our versatile little companion is available in scarlet, pink, orange and yellow for the bolder gardener.

 

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Books

Gardening in the Shade

shade book

Growing Vegetables in South Africa

Growing Bedding Plants in South Africa

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