This vigorous, flat-growing, succulent groundcover grows on coastal and inland slopes from Namaqualand in the Northern Cape, through the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape. It is often seen as a pioneer plant on disturbed sites and is essential for the fast stabilization of sandy slopes, in large areas.
It is drought resistant, low maintenance and fast growing. In areas where fires are common, it makes a good fire-resistant barrier. Medicinally it is used for skin ailments and to treat stings, especially bluebottle stings. It will grow in full sun or in the dry shade under trees.
The huge bright yellow flowers appear mainly from late winter to spring and fade to pink. They open in bright sunlight, and close at night. This species is easily distinguished from the others as it is the only one with yellow flowers. The fruits are used to make jams and condiments. Plant it as a groundcover for large areas, on embankments, or allow it to cascade over terrace walls. It is relatively shallow-rooting and is a good choice for a roof garden.
The Hottentots fig is one of those plants that thrive on neglect and can be killed with kindness. Do not fertilise it and plant it in well-drained soil, in a sunny position; and where it has room to spread. It is an excellent evergreen that is both drought and wind-resistant and will grow in lime-rich and brackish soils. It is tender to frost, and high humidity will cause bacterial rot of the leaves. This drought tolerant plant should not need additional irrigation once established.
(Carpobrotus edulis) roots easily from cuttings without the need for hormone powder. Cuttings can rot easily, so root them in sand.
(Carpobrotus deliciosus) Goena
This Carpobrotus can be found growing from Riversdal to the Eastern Cape. It has attractive purple, pink or white flowers and its growth habit and uses are the same as for C. edulis.
The hardy Ice Plants are native to dry areas in South Africa. A striking new introduction in the vygie range is the Delosperma floribunda 'Sequins' selection. The glistening deep purple flowers each have a large white center, and will flower almost the entire summer long; with hundreds of flowers being produced on a single plant. The flowers will attract butterflies and bees to your garden.
This selection forms a low mat of succulent evergreen leaves that spread quickly, making it an excellent groundcover for hot, dry slopes and sandy soils. For a groundcover, space the plants 45 to 60cm apart. 'Sequins' is lovely if grown in tubs and mixed containers, in the rock garden, or as an edging plant.
This ice plant will grow about 10 to 15cm tall and can spread 45 to 60cm. It is a low maintenance plant that is extremely hardy to heat, cold and frost; and is very drought tolerant. Plant it in full sun and well-drained soil. It should not be over watered and only needs fertilising once a month. In regions with wet soils in winter this will likely perform as an annual.
Carex are extremely attractive perennial plants which belong to the Sedge family; with over 1000 species and even more cultivars. Most species are evergreen, and can be found growing from the coldest climates and high elevations, to the tropics; so there's one or two suitable for every garden.
All sedges are essentially grass-like in appearance and range in size from extremely small tufts to large clumps. Most garden varieties have striking foliage, a compact mounding habit and cascading leaves. Foliage can be bronze-brown, dark to light green; or striped with green and cream, ivory or golden-yellow. In summer the plants produce small brown flower spikes which are attractive but fairly inconspicuous.
Sedges are striking contrast plants for all types of gardens and combine well with other perennials. They are not limited to one garden style and are used in Japanese pebble gardens, tropical and ultra modern designs; cottage and woodland gardens. Sedges prefer moist soil and thrive near water features and ponds. They also provide an effective groundcover if planted in massed beds; doing well underneath trees. Their compact mounding habit makes them an excellent choice for the front of the border. Sedges are also great accent plants for mixed container plantings with perennials and annuals.
Cultural requirements vary from species to species and most garden varieties available in South Africa remain evergreen and are hardy to frost; in very cold regions they may become dormant in winter. Some cultivars love semi-shade and will even grow in full shade, while others will adapt to full sun. Most Sedges love moisture and grow happily in wet, boggy areas, while others are more drought tolerant. Generally they adapt to most fertile well-drained garden soils, from sand to clay loam. Your local garden centre will stock those varieties most suitable for your region, so check with them first. Like most perennial grasses sedges will benefit from a tidy up in the spring to remove any dead foliage and to encourage new growth.
Propagation is by seed or by division of the root ball in autumn or spring.
Carex oshimensis 'Evergold' is native to the Japanese main island of Honshu and the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu. It is common in dry woods and rocky hillsides at low altitudes, and therefore prefers a slightly drier soil than most sedges. This evergreen has fine foliage which cascades softly to the ground in a fountain-like manner. The striped, creamy-yellow leaves have dark green margins. Its compact growth habit +-15 to 20cm tall and +-20 to 30cm wide, make it an excellent choice for the front of the border. It is fully hardy to frost and thrives in to semi-shade to shade.
(Carex oshimensis 'Variegata') has cream and green leaves and the same characteristics and growing requirements as 'Evergold'
(Carex comans Bronze Form) Bronze New Zealand Hair Sedge. This evergreen sedge is native to New Zealand and provides year-round interest with its narrow, weeping leaves which form a dense tussock. The leaves are a warm honey-amber which changes to the shiny copper colour of a new penny in early spring when the new leaves emerge. It will grow in sun or semi-shade to +-30 to 40cm tall and +-50 to 60cm wide. It will adapt to most garden soils and is very hardy to frost, tolerating temperatures down to -5°C; in very cold regions it will go dormant in winter. This sedge does not enjoy excessive wetness in winter.
(Carex comans 'Frosted Curls') New Zealand Hair Sedge. This eye-catching evergreen sedge is native to New Zealand and provides year-round interest with its narrow, pale silvery-green leaves which curl at the tips; shimmering in even the slightest breeze. It forms low matted tufts, which weep as it grows taller. Frosted Curls will grow in sun or semi-shade to +-30cm tall; it can take 4 to 5 years to reach its ultimate height of +-60cm, with a spread of 45cm. Plant it in moist, fertile, well-drained soils, in full sun or semi-shade. This sedge is hardy to frost but in very cold regions it will go dormant in winter.
(Carex brunnea 'Jenneke') This splendid evergreen sedge makes tufts of slender upright green leaves, which are edged with golden-yellow; when the light catches them, it brilliantly highlights the foliage. Jenneke is hardy to frost and more drought tolerant than most sedges, but responds well to moderate watering in the garden. It can be planted in semi-shade to sun and grows +-40cm tall and 20cm wide; once mature it can exceed these proportions
This grass-like evergreen perennial is native to eastern Asia, where it commonly occurs in wetlands and shallow water. The colourful foliage grows in fan-like tufts resembling irises, and when walked upon, releases a fragrance reminiscent of cinnamon. 'Variegatus' has bright green leaves prominently margined with white and grows +-40cm tall and 40cm wide. 'Golden Edge' has yellow and green striped leaves and grows +-30 to 40cm tall and wide. Plants can take 2 to 3 years to reach their ultimate height, which may be taller than described, with a wider spread.
The Japanese sweet flag is a great foliage plant for shallow water and perfect to plant in wetland and bog gardens. It is beautiful planted around the edges of ponds and water gardens; and can be submerged in freshwater aquaria. It can also be grown in ordinary garden beds as long as they are watered frequently. In Japan the smaller cultivars are often are grown in containers indoors, in shallow water. Japanese sweet flag is especially suitable for miniature water features outdoors such as half barrels or large ceramic bowls filled with water.
The plants will adapt to soils ranging from very acidic (pH 5.2 to 5.5) to alkaline (pH 8.1 to 8.5). They are fully hardy to frost and are evergreen in warmer climates, semi-evergreen in cold climates, and will die back completely to ground level in extremely cold climates; mulch the roots in winter and the plants will shoot again in spring.
They thrive in semi-shade to sun, but in cooler climates will take full sun, as long as moisture levels are high; the leaf tips will turn brown and wither if the soil dries for even brief periods. Too much summer sun or protracted dry conditions will cause the plants to look poorly; in too much shade growth will be stunted.
Where conditions are favourable they will spread aggressively by rhizomes, creating a nearly seamless groundcover. If you don't want a solid stand of Japanese sweet flag, grow it in submerged containers so it can't spread.
Propagation is by dividing the rhizomes in spring and overgrown clumps should be divided every 2 to 3 years.
This a low-maintenance plant suffers from no serious insect or disease problems.