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Sutera, with its profusion of delicate flowers all summer long, is creating quite a buzz amongst gardeners!

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Sutera "Bermuda Sky" Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaSutera "Bermuda Sky" Picture courtesy www.newplant.co.za Sutera, Bacopa
- Chaenostoma cordatum (= Sutera cordata)

Sutera remain firm favourites with gardeners around the world for their ease of growth and profusion of flowers throughout spring and summer. They are hardy, vigorous, low-growing plants which can spread +-50 to 60cm, while only reaching a height of +-15 to 20cm. Plant breeders have developed many new and improved strains of Sutera which not only flower even more profusely, but also have larger blooms, with some varieties even sporting lovely yellow foliage. They are available in beautifully delicate shades of blue and pink to lavender and white. Some of the new cultivars include: Sutera ”Snowstorm”; Sutera “Blue Showers” and  Sutera “Lavender Showers”

These charming but hardy little South African plants are found growing wild from George in the southern Western Cape to East London in the Eastern Cape, with the possible exception of the Algoa area. It ranges in altitude from sea level to about 1000m and can be found along the coast and also inland in scrubland and forested kloofs, from the Outeniqua Mountains around George to Grahamstown.

Sutera cordata "Blizzard" picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaSutera cordata "Blizzard" picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaSutera cordata "Blizzard" picture courtesy www.newplant.co.zaThe plant has undergone several Latin name changes over the years, but because most gardeners still refer to it as Sutera or Bacopa, for this article we will call it by its common name Sutera.

In the Garden:

Sutera are perfect to plant in hanging baskets, window boxes and pots of all sizes. Try mixing them with other summer annuals for a colourful summer display. Planted in mass, they make a wonderful groundcover and will stabilise the soil on slopes. They also make lovely rockery and edging plants for the garden, and because their colours are so delicate, Sutera blends beautifully with other garden plants.

Abunda Pink Bacopa. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanyAbunda Pink Bacopa. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanyAbunda Pink Bacopa. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanyCultivation:

Sutera is a short lived perennial plant that is tender to frost and is most often grown as a summer annual. It can be grown both inland and at the coast, and can survive temperatures as low as -1° C, but in cold regions will die down completely in winter - if you mulch the roots to keep them warm, the plant should shoot again in spring. It is very hardy, heat tolerant, and a low-maintenance annual which thrives in semi-shade to full sun. In cooler regions it can take lots of sun, but in extremely hot regions it does better in semi-shade or morning sun.

Although exceptionally heat tolerant, it is vital to water your plants regularly during hot summer weather, and especially those growing in pots. Sutera likes regular watering, but does not like being overwatered either, so water thoroughly and then allow the soil to almost dry out completely before watering again. Never allow the plants to dry out completely.

Sutera requires rich well- drained soil for good results, and regular applications of a flowering plant food will keep your plants blooming repeatedly all summer and into autumn. Feeding is most important for potted specimens.

Although these plants are self-cleaning and do not require deadheading, a light pruning during the growing season will help to keep them bushy and looking good for longer.

Abunda Colossal Sky Blue Bacopa. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanyAbunda Colossal Sky Blue Bacopa. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanyAbunda Colossal Sky Blue Bacopa. Picture courtesy Ball Horticultural CompanyPropagation:

Sutera is easily propagated by cuttings if they are placed in a mist-unit, where rooting will occur in 2 to 3 weeks. (Use a plastic bag to make a mini-greenhouse if you have no mist unit.) Seed can be sown in spring in a 1:1 mixture of fine bark and coarse river sand.

Problems, Pests & Diseases:

If the plant becomes drought stressed it will drop both its flowers and buds before it wilts, and it can take up to two weeks for it to fully recover and start flowering again. To avoid this, monitor your plants regularly and water before the soil dries out totally.

Watch out for aphids, thrips, whitefly and fungus gnats.

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