Today’s post is focused on three plants which are hardy enough and have the spreading and cascading habit required for retaining wall and bank planting.

Lotus berthelotii – Parrot’s beak

This for us is literally one of the most stunning and striking plants to ever exist. It is not from South Africa but rather originate from the Canary Islands but it behaves and thrives just like any of our local is lekker plants would. This cascading and spreading groundcover grows to about 20cm high max and can spread about 40-50cm wide depending. It is an evergreen with the fine silvery-grey needle-like leaves and during late spring to early summer the show begins when masses of very unusual parrot beak like flowers are produced which vary from bright orange/red to yellow. These flowers will attract certain smaller birds which are capable of fitting their beaks into the flower. Parrot’s beak is extremely hardy and likes a sunny, dry position, not appreciating a cloggy clay soil. This plant can tolerate and thrive in periods of drought and should not be overwatered. The cascading habit of this plant lends itself to also be used for hanging baskets and places where it can hang down. This is well and truly one of our favourite plants and always fascinates us.


Drosanthemum species – Dewflowers

This is an indigenous perennial groundcover with a ground-hugging, spreading and cascading habit. It is naturalised in many parts of South Africa including the Western Cape coastal and other areas. It has stubby light green succulent leaves and is a definite winner for anyone trying to strive towards water-wise gardening (Rockeries etc). This plant is part of the mesemb family and has the typical characteristic of opening its flowers during the day and closing them at night. The flowers which come in too many colours to actually make mention of them all are actually pollinated by the Cape Honey bee so this is a great plant for people that are planting to attract bees. These plants do not appreciate long periods of moisture so plant them in well-drained, non-clay soil and make sure not to overwater them as they can rot easily. Their life cycle is about 5-7 years but they will sometimes self-seed themselves. They flower very profusely and can sometimes look a bit straggly and tired, and require a good cutback and will then bounce back. If you are starting these off in your garden I would recommend buying six-pack plants which will usually be labelled with colour, but once you have them established in your garden you can actually take cuttings to make more of these rewarding plants.

Drosanthemum specie

Plectranthus neochillus – Lobster / Spur flower

Though this plant is very common and is literally used in almost all landscapes we would still recommend it because it is just such an amazing toughie in the garden. What we truly love about this perennial groundcover is that it adapts to so many different and contrasting conditions. For example, it can be grown in shady subtropical gardens as well as sunny water-wise conditions. This plant has succulent grey-green succulent aromatic leaves and produces masses of spikes of purple flowers for many months from September through to April usually. It does prefer well-drained soil but could be grown in clay soil as long as it is not overwatered and has an opportunity to dry out. An interesting fact is that people actually believe that this plant scares snakes away with its very strongly smelling foliage. We are not saying that this is factual, but this is what people believe. This plant is also said to be a good air purifier so even more reason to plant it in your garden. This groundcover is fantastic for all many uses but we love using them in retaining walls and on banks. First, purchase some six packs to get it started in your garden and then from there once growing to take some cuttings which can just be stuck in the ground to grow. This is one of these plants that is great for people who do not have much of a green thumb and don’t want to spend that much time maintaining the garden.

Plectranthus neochilus

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