Syncolostemon densiflorous

Water Needs

Moderate

Syncolostemon densiflorous
Shrub small; Shrub medium
Pink Plume

1 - 2 m

Size

Light Conditions

sun

Frost

hardy

Flowers

bright to dark pink; summer; autumn; winter

sun; rockery; wildlife sunbirds insects butterflies; shrubbery; narrow spaces; fast-growing easy-care

Garden Situation

Habitat

grassland; woodland forest; water; coastal eastern cape; coastal kzn

Region

subtropical east coast; thicket

Rain Season

ainfall season: Summer

Find informative indigenous gardening articles in our web magazine - www.theindigenousgardener.co.za

Description

This member of the mint family, (Lamiacea) is a beautiful and aromatic shrub for the garden, equally at home in a wildlife design and pretty enough to be the star in a more formal landscape. There are a selection from this family that can be found in various parts of the country: S. transvaalensis,(previously Hemizygia transvaalensis), from the Highveld area, and S. rotundifolius from the Southern KZN and Eastern Cape regions and S. densiflorous, found along the KZN coast and up into the midlands. They range in flowering times from spring to winter. Recently the plants from the Hemyzygia family have been re-named and now join the Syncolostemon family. They keep their species name however, so Hemizygia transvaalensis is now S. transvaalensis. The latin name ‘densiflorous’ – ‘densely covered in flowers’, gives an indication of how floriferous it is during the peak flowering season.   S. densiflorous is a medium size shrub reaching anywhere from 1m up to 2m in the garden, but has a narrower width than height, of about 1m. In wild situations (their natural element that is) the size will vary between 1.5 – 2.5 x 1 – 2 m. It occurs naturally in grassland and on the margins of woodland and forest often along small streams and on the edges of vleis, but it will grow happily in any garden situation in regions of higher rainfall as its natural distribution range suggests. Description: it is an evergreen upright shrub, very neat but with quite a loose arrangement of branches, usually from low down so forms a screening shrub that will do well in a screening shrubbery. The stems are a velvety white and sparsely branched. The leaves are a grey/blue, slightly furry and small, sometimes with a toothed margin, but only from the middle of the leaf to the tip. One simply needs to brush past the leaves to release the sweet fragrance. For most of the year it is rather unremarkable until the flowering period begins. The flowers are a bright pink to crimson, forming in clusters of 4 – 6 plumes and they form in whorls at the tips of the branches. The long flowering plume is densely packed and made up of many thin tubes, each about 18 – 23 mm long. As with many tubular shaped flowers they are visited and pollinated by the sunbirds visiting this plant for the rich nectar. While it does have a peak flowering season of October to June, it often produces a few flowers on and off through the year. It keeps its shape very well and will never outgrow its given space in even the smallest garden. If it does get a bit lanky or woody prune it back by about a third after flowering and use the cuttings to propagate more plants.  Growth is quite fast; in areas of full sun and good rains it can grow up to 1m a year. It does not cope well with drought conditions. Where to use Syncolostemon in the garden:                  Growing in the temperate to warm summer areas that receive good rainfalls it will require not extra watering. If your rainfall is considerably less than this, plant it with other plants that need extra watering, or in the moister areas of your garden. It prefers full sun, but will still flower well in partial shade as long as it gets enough sun midday sun. It is an excellent plant to attract the sunbirds to the garden, so plant it in a thicket with other bird attracting plants. Plant it near the patio or outside a bedroom window to get full view of the visiting wildlife. The perfect position for this shrub though, is in your grassland bed or the sunny edge of your woodland.

Syncolostemon densiflorous
Syncolostemon densiflorous