Spekboom is good for: oxygen and health benefits

South Africa’s miracle plant

The Spekboom is a nice-looking, indigenous to South Africa, drought-hardy plant. Spekboom is good for:

Spekboom is good for growing a windbreak or privacy hedge. These plants are very easy to shape when a box hedge is desired.

  • Spekboom is known for its incredible carbon-storing capabilities and
  • many health benefits.
  • It is one of but a few plants that release oxygen during day and night and as Spekboom creates clean air – it is a fantastic indoor plant
  • It promotes soil binding flora, which helps prevent erosion.
  • Another benefit of the Spekboom is being edible. The plant offers many health reasons and it is an eady-to-grow food source.
    This sprawling shrub, or small tree, naturally grows in the rocky areas of the bushveld and semi-desert regions. Bees and butterflies love its masses of soft pink nectar-rich flowers, which is followed with small papery three-winged fruits.

Indigenous people use the plant for medicinal and domestic purposes, including:

  • Spekboom has skin soothing properties and treats ailments like rashes, insect stings, sunburn or blisters with crushed leaf juice.
  • Plant parts treat heatstroke and thirst by sucking a leaf or throat and mouth infections by chewing leaves.
  • The stems are good building material when dried and used as thatch for roofing of the huts/homes.
  • Mozambican breastfeeding mothers believe these leaves help increasing their milk production by eating the leaves.
  • The leaves are best eaten in the mornings while still sweet. The succulent leaves turn more sour and bitter with the climbing sun.

Most importantly: Comparing the Amazon forest hectare for hectare with a Spekboom thicket and Spekboom wins at removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Ten times over. 5 Hectares of Spekboom can remove 20 – 50 tonnes of carbon per year.

2020 kicked off for South Africans with this Spekboom Challenge:
A) plant 10 spekboom trees,
B) share and post it on Social Media as #spekboomchallenge and
C) challenge a friend to do the same. (Gardening Eden wants to up this challenge to 20 spekboom trees in 2020 – add #20spekboomchallenge to your share)
Because of this challenge, thousands of spekboom trees have since been planted and in some cases, the challenge amount has grown to 10 plants per person (or more). Which is great since a single mature spekboom can remove 8.5kg of carbon a year. Keep in mind that typically 9.18 tons of carbon emissions per person are released from vehicles alone.

More good news…
Stellenbosch – outside Cape Town, South Africa – will soon host the largest African labyrinth with 13 circuits – consisting of spekboom trees. The garden diameter will be 220m and visible far from above.
It will be called “The Great Labyrinth of Africa” and be built at the Stellenbosch Bridge Smart City development.
“If we don’t regress carbon emissions by 2025, we’ll go past the tipping point and all of humanity will face extinction,” said Peter Shrimpton, Chief executive of the Heart Capital and founder of the Great Labyrinth Project .

The Labyrinth of the Chartres Cathedral in France is the design that the “The Great Labyrinth of Africa” is based on.
Image: Smithsonian Magazine

Propagating is easily done from cuttings in spring, summer and autumn. Keep them dry-moist and use river sand to root in – and ensure your final soil is well-draining. These plants are quite fast-growing and will not need, but respond, to compost and water. Seeing that this succulent needs very little to thrive – growing as many as possible is ideal. It is ideal for windy areas as a windbreak. They can be planted in dry desert or coastal gardens.

Spekboom is the best plant for the beginner gardener because it needs very little attention. As long as you elliminate poor drainage and overwatering, you can’t really get it wrong. Since this anazing plant is a greenhouse hero, it shouldbe on every balcony and windowsill, and we believe all traffic islands and highways should be hedge-planted with it too.

Celosia a.k.a garden cockscomb

Sensational Celosia a.k.a garden cockscomb


Celosia a.k.a garden cockscomb, a member of the Amaranthaceae family, is also known as garden cockscomb, or wool flower, and originated in tropical Asia, most commonly India. It is invaluable as a mass-planted bedding variety, container filler, and glorious mixed summer-border specimen. The flowers show in vibrant shades of orange, yellow, bronze, red, scarlet, pink and magenta, so make for wonderful ‘hot-spots’ of intense, textured colour in the garden.

There are two distinct species of Celosia. C. argentea is cultivated for its tall, showy heads of dainty, plumed flowers. C. cristata is a lower growing plant, and produces distinctive heads of stiff, compact, densely packed blooms. They put on a long and delightful display of colourful abundance during the warmer months. Hybridization has resulted in the availability of tall and dwarf varieties in both species.

Celosia, a.k.a garden cockscomb, was originally classified as a weed, but has become an incredibly popular summer bedding variety. It can take lots of direct sunlight, and requires only minimal care and watering once established. The plant is hardy and wind-resistant, so is particularly useful in gardens which are exposed to strong winds, or are located in coastal areas.

Celosia can be grown with success in all regions of the country. It will do particularly well in well-drained soil enriched with compost, and with an occasional sprinkling of complete, water-soluble fertilizer. Varieties such as celosia argentea ‘Pyramidalis’, with its brilliant red clusters of feathery flowers, is just one example of the many cultivars which bring vibrant colour, and enduring vigour to the summer landscape.

Text by Liz Killassy

Information Supplied by the Bedding Plant Growers Association. Contact Bronwen Tuck, chairperson 083 678 5907

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.

Bougainvillea plants care guide

Bougainvillea plants care guide

Planting position: Full sun.
Areas without severe frost.
3m spaces between plants.
Tolerates drought, once established.
Majority of fungus- and/or pest attacks.
Requires water regularly until established, but note that the more you water a mature
Bougainvillea the fewer flowers it will produce.
Well-composted sandy soil.
Undisturbed roots during transplanting is an important pointon the Bougainvillea plants care guide. Nursery bought plants often get treated roughly during transplantation – which will knock your plant’s general health and recovery back.
The training of new growth towards the next Bougainvillea plant.
Colour mixing only with species with similar growing habits.
Pruning to shape during dormant winter.
Propagate from hardwood cuttings during spring

The most commonly cultivated Bougainvillea species and hybrid are Bougainvillea glabra and the hybrid Bougainvillea × buttiana

Other popular hybrids are:
– Bougainvillea peruviana flowers when young and is great for containers.
– Bougainvillea × buttiana ‘Poulton’s Special’ AGM: magenta-rose pink flowers (Bougainvillea. × buttiana‘ Poulton’s Special’ AGM)
– Bougainvillea × buttiana ’Raspberry Ice’: has cerise flowers and cream streaks on the leaves.
– Bougainvillea ‘African Sunset’: has large bright orange bracts
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘ Bridal bouquet’ this double variety has whitish bracts, and in full sun they may be tipped with rose-shades.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Brilliance’ with bracts shading through tones of red.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Coconut Ice’ with white bracts and cerise-coloured tips.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Daphne Mason’ has reddish-brown bracts that, with maturity, fade to a powdery pink.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘David Lemmer’ with bright red bracts and striking foliage.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Golden Doubloon’ is a double variety with pink, orange and yellow colouring on its bracts.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘James Walker’ with very large, striking red bracts.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Lady Mary Baring’ has brilliant yellow bracts.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Mary Palmer’ large white bracts, ‘bleeding’ with pink.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Mrs McClean’ with bracts changing colour, beginning with orange, then pinkish-orange and with maturity ending with a deep pink.
– Bougainvillea x buttiana ‘Red Glory’ comes with striking pure red bracts.
– Bougainvillea glabra ‘Dream’ with white bracts ‘bleeding’ with shades of lilac.
– Bougainvillea glabra ‘Gladys Hepburn’ striking with shell-pink bracts.
– Bougainvillea spectabilis ‘African Sunset’ produces large clusters of purple bracts.

Amaranthus tricolor “edible amaranth”

Amaranthus tricolor “edible amaranth”

Tropics; 1,2m
Planting position: Full sun.
Wind-protected area.
Suitable for all growing regions without humidity.
Requires regular summer watering.
Compost-enriched, well-draining soil.
Watch out for fungal diseases and snails.
Propagate from spring-sown seed.

Grown for the attractive foliage, which is striking red and yellow-tipped.‘Marmoratus’ has green and yellow foliage.

This edible plant  should be in every kitchen garden and will be a fantastic companion for your legumes.

Amaranthus tricolor “edible amaranth” is a nutritious, gluten-free grain that provides a good amount of fiber, protein and micronutrients. Halth benefits include reduced inflammation, lower cholesterol levels and increased weight loss.

* Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anthurium scherzerianum “Flamingo flower”

Anthurium scherzerianum “Flamingo flower”

Indigenous to USA, W. Indies; 25cm
Requires regular watering during growing season, but less in winter months.Potting mixtures of peat-based mix or peat and coarse leaf mould in equal parts. Humid conditions and low-light-intensity.Applications of liquid fertiliser fortnightly.
Propagate from spring division.

The Flamingo flower has oval, glossy spathes of striking scarlet and a twisting spadix of orange. Its large, lance-shaped leaves are borne on tall stalks.

Anthurium scherzerianum “Flamingo flower” are called Lucky Plants in Feng Shui terms, Anthuriums  are thought of to bring good luck in relationships.

They are also regarded as one of the best houseplants that purify indoor air by NASA and have their own spot on the NASA air purifying plants list.

Bergenia cordifolia “Heartleaf bergenia”

Bergenia cordifolia “Heartleaf bergenia”

Siberia; 25 x 45cm
Planting position: Full sun or semi-shade.
Ideal for cool areas with no humidity.
Spacing of 30cm.
Requires regular watering.
Well-draining soil.
Seasonal applications of complete fertiliser.
Watch out for snails, aphids or slugs.
Propagate from spring division.

The hardy Bergenia cordifolia “Heartleaf bergenia” has rosettes of large, evergreen foliage of glossy green, heart-shaped leaves, hence the name. The winter- and spring flowers are borne in sprays on sturdy stems of white or rosy-pink shade.

Other than “Heartleaf bergenia” it is also commonly known as leather bergenia, winter-blooming bergenia, elephant-ears, elephant’s ears, Korean elephant-ear,  badan, pigsqueak, Siberian tea, and Mongolian tea.

Brassia verrucosa orchid species

Brassia verrucosa orchid species

South America
Planting and growing requirements: generous light and watering.
Ideal temperature: 10°

The Brassia verrucosa orchid species is a large epiphytic orchid from South America with unique shaped flowers. The upright, flattened, egg-shaped, medium green pseudobulbs are about 7,5cm x 7,5cm tall and wide wide. Each carrying two leaves of over 35cm long and 5cm wide. Flower stems can reach 90cmin length, carrying up to 16 scented spring and summer flowers of about 13cm in length x 10cm wide. The pale green sepals and petals are spotted with reddish and dark green near the base. The white lip is diamond-shaped lip with dark green, growth-like like spots. These spots are the reason it is sometimes called Warty Brassia. The flower colouring deepens with age.

The Brassia verrucosa is easy to grow and prefers to be left undisturbed during its months of rest and cooler conditions during the flowering period are appreciated.

Bulbophyllum collettii syn. wendlandianum

Bulbophyllum collettii syn. wendlandianum

Planting and growing requirements: well-draining conditions in shallow pots, tree ferns or cork bark.
Ideal temperature: 12°C

The spring flowers of this plant is produced 4 – 6 per flower spike, are maroon and striped yellow. Fine hairs cover the top sepal and petals, fluttering easily in slight breezes.

Keep your plants in shade, mild to warm temperatures, moist in summer with reduced watering in winter. Do not allow the mix to dry, and ensure good air flow to prevent fungal growth. Pot plants in sphagnum moss, fine bark, or mounted.

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.