Monday, 02 December 2013
Indigenous Plant Of The month
Delosperma tradescantioides: Broad-leaved Delosperma
This is a succulent species of the Valley Bushveld and Lowveld areas of KwaZulu-Natal where the plants are found scrambling over rocks or into shrubs. The rosettes of succulent leaves, if knocked off by a passing animal, will drop to the ground and root quickly to begin a new colony or mat of these plants.
They live in semi-shade to full sun and have a trailing habit, with leaves that resemble those of the genus Tradescantia from where this plant gets it specific name. This is a bullet- proof plant that will grow under the most extreme conditions of drought, and with its broad leaves, will tolerate fairly heavy shade. But if you insist on growing this plant in the shade, then do not water the mat, as the soft leaves will rot away.
It is a fast growing plant and will cover an area quickly. Small white to pale yellow flowers are produced in the centre of the leaf cluster throughout the year. Many insects, especially bees and small butterflies, are attracted to the flowers for their nectar and pollen. During times of drought, usually in the cooler winter months, this plant will take on a greenish-purple look to the leaves.
Then, as the rains arrive and the heat begins to increase, the leaves become their normal shiny green colour. I often use this plant on roof gardens where it begins on the horizontal surface but it will soon outgrow the space and carry on growing over the roof edge and hang down the wall. The dangling stems with the their evenly spaced clusters of leaves make an attractive feature for hanging gardens.
It also makes a good hanging basket subject and surprisingly, this species does not seem so prone to mealy bug that seem to get inside the roots of other Delosperma species. As a container plant on a sunny windowsill this species is a winner. Plants will grow in virtually no soil but for best results prepare the soil well with compost and some fertiliser. Like most other Delospermas this plant roots very easily from stem cuttings.
Win! One lucky reader can win a Delosperma tradescantioides donated by Geoff. Send a postcard to: Delosperma Giveaway: P.O.Box 41120, Rossburgh, 4072 to reach us by 31.01.14 (Please include your phone number). Winners must collect their plant from our offices.