Ruttya fruticosa, Jammy mouth

Ruttya fruticosa, Jammy mouth

Indigenous to South Africa; 2 – 3m
Planting position: Full sun.Areas with protection from heavy wind.Areas not prone to severe frost.
Requires regular and thorough watering.Well-draining soil. Hard pruning after flowering.
Propagate from semi-hardwood cuttings.

An indigenous evergreen, rounded shrub with gloasy foliage, producing pretty and long lasting terminal, orange springflower-spikes. These flowers “bleed” orange and red with a black blotch in the centre.

The flower nectar of Ruttya fruticosa, Jammy mouth is highly beneficial in bee keeping, and also used to be sucked out by humans as a treat and the twigs used as cosmetic kohl.
This shrub is useful as fodder for cattle and cattle.

Podalyria calyptrata “Waterkeurtjie” bush – Sweet pea

Podalyria calyptrata “Waterkeurtjie” bush is  indigenous to South Africa; 1,5 – 3m
Planting position: Full sun. Areas without severe frost, drought or humidity. The “Waterkeurtjie” is ideal for winter rainfall regions as it is native to the Western Cape.
Requires watering during dry spells- and seasons. Well-draining soil. Shape pruning after flowering.
Propagate from seed.

The evergreen Podalyria calyptrata  is densely covered with greyish, hairy foliage, contrasting brilliantly with its striking pink, or white, spring flowers. Soft, flat seed pods follow later. This shrub makes quite an attractive screen or informal hedge.

Native to South Africa’s Western Cape, the Sweet pea bush, or Waterkeurtjie, is a very common sight. Visitors to Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens will see many Keurtjie bushes dotted throughout the gorgeous gardens. As the Western Cape is more conscious of water scarcity, this small evergreen tree is becoming more popular due to its drought-hardy nature.

Podalyria calyptrata “Waterkeurtjie” bush should definitely be in every water-wise garden

Chlorophytum comosum, Spider plant

Chlorophytum comosum, Spider plant

Indigenous to South Africa; 50cm
Requirements: regular watering during growing season, and less during winter. Potting mixtures of soil-based and perlite.Medium-light-intensity.
Propagate from layering.

The spider plant is an easy-to-grow subject with soft, green and cream, arching rosettes and summer flowers. These small blooms are star-shaped and white.
C. comosum ‘Variegata’ is the popular, trailing Hen and Chicks plant which has numerous plantlets on the stolons’ ends.

It is drought-tolerant and quite disease- and pest-free. It easily propagates by means of growing succulent roots from plantlets on the spreading flower stems and prefers filtered sunlight.

Other common names of the perennial plant include:

Airplane plant, St. Bernard’s lily, spider ivy, ribbon plant, and hen and chickens.

Trichilia dregeana, natal mahogany

Trichilia dregeana, natal mahogany

Indigenous to South Africa; 13m
Planting position: Full sun or semi-shade. Ideal for warmer areas.
Requires regular watering during dry spells.Well-draining, compost-enriched soil.
Propagate from seed.

An excellent feature plant that is fast-growing, and provides great shading. The foliage is glossy and it bears clusters of berries, containing orange seed, each with a black dot. These berries release the seed, when bursting open in autumn.
Trichilia emetica (12m) is a large and wide spreading tree with shiny dark green foliage. It is an excellent shading tree.

Common names of Trichilia dregeana, natal mahogany: forest mahogany, forest Natal-mahogany, Cape mahogany, thunder tree, Christmas bells, red ash (Eng.); rooiessenhout, bosrooiessenhout, basteressenhout (Afr.); umKhuhlu, uMathunzini (Zulu); umKhuhlu (Xhosa); mmaba (Northern Sotho); mutuhu, mutshikili (Venda).

Thunbergia Black-eyed Susan – edible, medicinal & useful!

Thunbergia Black-eyed Susan

Thunbergia Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) is indigenous to South Africa.
Planting position: Full sun.
60-90 cm
Planting areas with up to moderate frost only, and shelter provided.
Suitable for all growing regions, provided summer watering where needed.
Requires regular summer watering.
Compost-enriched soil.
Light shape pruning after flowering.
Spring-application of complete fertiliser.
Propagate from spring-sown seed.

This evergreen grows fast, but will die back in very cold winters. Its trumpet-shaped flowers are striking orange-coloured with a prominent black “eye”. These flowers make the Black-eyed Susan very easy to recognize.

The gorgeous ornamental, Thunbergia alata makes a good screen with the help of a fence support, trellis, arch, arbour or pillar.

Edible parts include the roots, but never the toxic Black-eyed Susan seed heads! The spring greens can be cooked and eaten. In E Africa, Black-eyed Susan is used as a vegetable or stock feed.

Medicinal properties of  Thunbergia alata  include: warm infusion as a wash for sores and swellings. The Ojibwa people treated snake bites with a poultice. Other healing treatments are for earaches, colds and worms in children.
Medicinally it is also in use for skin problems, cellulitis, back and joint pains, eye inflammation and piles. Care should be taken as contact dermatitis can be picked up from it.
*** Always get a healthcare professional’s opinion and advice before self-treatment.

It is extremely insect, bird and pollinator friendly. Moths and butterflies, such as Junonia ovithya (Eyed Pansy) love to visit and lay eggs on the sprawling evergreen, and the caterpillars in turn become bird food. Birds favour the thickly tangled stems to nest in. As this is an ideal plant to attract insects, make sure to do so away from the edible garden – at least 7 – 10m from the vegetable beds. All the unwanted pests will congregate there instead of the kitchen garden.

Scadoxus multiflorus – Powder brush

Scadoxus multiflorus Powder brush

Indigenous to South Africa;
Planting position: Full sun or semi-shade.Regions without humidity.
Scadoxus multiflorus (Powder brush) requires regular summer- and autumn watering, keeping bulbs dry in winter.Well-draining, compost-enriched loam soil.
Propagate from division after flowering.

The bulbous species known as Scadoxus multiflorus – Powder brush has deep green foliage and bright red, globular flowers.  

Podocarpus henkelii – Natal- or Henkel’s yellowwood

Podocarpus henkelii Natal- or Henkel’s yellowwood

Indigenous to South Africa; 25m
Planting position: the Podocarpus henkelii (Natal yellowwood) wants full sun or semi-shade.Wind-protected area.Ideal for high summer rainfall areas. Areas with only moderate frost.
Requires regular watering during dry spells, while young especially. Well-draining soil, enriched with compost or manure.
Propagate Podocarpus henkelii (Natal yellowwood) from seed or grafting.

This yellowwood is highly ornamental, evergreen and has distinctive glossygreen foliage that droops. The summer cones have greenish seeds.

Lithops Stone plants care guide

Lithops Stone plants care

Indigenous to Southern Africa; 2 – 5cm
Planting position: Full sun in arid areas without cold, frosty winters.
Lithops Stone plants care includes summer watering only when needed and with perfect drainage. Try to water around the plant. Keep dry during winter and spring. Watch out for scale, fungal disease (caused by over-watering) and mealy bug. Keep potted plants out of extreme heat
Propagate from lithops seed during autumn / fall.

Lithops is a genus of Aizoaceae, succulent plants in the ice plant family. Members of the genus are native to southern Africa. The name is derived from the Ancient Greek words λίθος, meaning “stone,” and ὄψ, meaning “face,” referring to the stone-like appearance of the plants. It has wo fleshy and thick, almost-translucent leaves that look like stones and from these, grow a thick tap root.

Stone plants, or Living Stones, flowers in autumn / fall and omly from the age of nearly 3 and only because it likes its location and current conditions. Daisy-like flowers are white or yellow, lasting about a week. Do not water or feed when it flowers for better results.

The perennial, succulent Lithops family is ideal for arid situations and has autumn flowers and thick leaves.
L. lesliei (4cm) has two united leaves, or pressed together. These rusty-coloured leaves are traced with greenish-brown and have golden, daisy-like flowers.
L. marmorata has pale yellow flowers and has a marble-like appearance.

Lithops are edible and non-toxic to humans or pets. African children have been known to eat stone plants as a means to quench thirst.
Lithops Stone plants care in traditional medicina has gained prominence for its antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.

Also in the lithops family:


Lithops karasmontana, Lithops olivacea, Lithops pseudotruncatella, Lithops salicola, Lithops schwantesii,  Mesembryanthemum turbiniforme,  Lithops hookeri.

Gladiolus liliaceus – Brown afrikaner, ribbokblom

Gladiolus liliaceus Brown afrikaner, ribbokblom

Indigenous to South Africa; 50cm
Planting position: Full sun or semi-shade.Ideal for areas with high winter rainfalls. Regions without severe heat, drought or humidity.
Requires regular winter watering, but kept dry during summer.Well-composted, well-draining sandy soil.Watch out for botrytis, thrips and virus infections.
Propagate from division of cormlets after flowering.

Its spring flowers are perfumed at night and creamy, striped brown, with a centre stripe of purple.

Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb for food & medicine

Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb

Indigenous to N. America; 1 – 1,5m
Plant Goldenrod in the right  position: Full sun. Suitable for all growing regions, with additional summer watering when needed. Provide wind-protection where you Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb.

Requires regular watering. Well-draining soil. Spring application of complete fertiliser.Cutting back of stems after flowering.
Propagate from division after flowering, every two years.

Solidago, or known as goldenrods, has between 100 and 120 flowering species in the Asteraceae (aster) family. These plants grow so srong that they are both considered a sign of good fortune or seen as invasive weeds. Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb for permaculture and medicinal uses, to ensure you experience their good fortune.

These perennial plants love to grow in meadows, prairies, and savannas and Solidago species grow from rhizomes.

The summer and autumn / fall flower heads can easily grow 30cm long, with bright yellow daisy-like flowers. The growing shape is upright and bushy with narrow leaves.

Excellent companion plants include (imagine a wild pollinator-attractive border):
– Perovskia atriplicifolia – Russian sage
– Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’ – Montbretia
– Helenium ‘Waltraut’ – Sneezeweed
– Sedum ‘Herbstfreude’ – Autumn Joy

Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb for permaculture and medicinal uses – and besides, they are edible! Edible parts include the young leaves and seeds of some species. Herbal teas are sometimes made.

Medicinal properties and uses also include a mouth rinse for inflammation of the mouth and throat. Topically it is applied directly to the skin to treat eczema, wash wounds and improve healing.
Goldenrod herb is used to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation, as a diuretic, to treat muscle spasms, gout, rheumatism and arthritis.

Frequent contact with goldenrod can cause allergic reactions for some.
Please always seek professional health advice before self medicating with herbs. Caution should especially be taken by pregnancy and breast-feeding mothers.

Organic farmers love to Plant Solidago Goldenrod herb for permaculture benefits. Goldenrods are extremely popular nectar spots for bees and butterflies. These plants stabilize soil and grow very strong- they do not require any attention.

Goldenrod species are used as a food source by the larvae of many butterfly species. A great idea to nake this herb work for you, is to plant a border, or prairy frame, a little out of the way. This will be a nursery for butterfly pollinators and a nectar pitstop for your bees.

Woodpeckers are known to also frequent goldenrods as their supermarkets. Rhey feast on insects inside the gall centers. And woodpeckers of course add to your natural and free pest control.

Common names, synonyms and cultivated spesies are: Aaron’s Rod, Baguette d’Aaron, Canadian Goldenrod, Early Goldenrod, European Goldenrod, Gerbe d’Or, Herbe des Juifs, Solidage, Solidage du Canada, Solidago canadensis, Solidago gigantea, Solidago longifolia, Solidago serotina, Solidago virgaurea, Vara de Oro, Verge d’Or, Woundwort,
Actipsis Rafinesque,
Aster Linnaeus subg. Solidago (Linnaeus),
Leioligo Rafinesque, Solidago bicolor, Solidago caesia, Solidago canadensis, Solidago cutleri, Solidago riddellii, Solidago rigida, Solidago shortii, and Solidago virgaurea