Brilliant, vibrant, stunning, barely describe this vygie, which
is one of the plants that makes the Karoo Desert National Botanical
Garden in Worcester famous for its spring display.
genus name Drosanthemum, was derived from the Greek words
drosos, meaning dew and anthos meaning flower, describing
the glittering water cells on the leaves of many species that resemble
drops of dew.
Drosanthemum speciosum is a very colourful low-growing shrublet
that grows to about 60 cm. The natural distribution is in the Western
Cape, in the Worcester-Robertson Karoo and the Little Karoo. People
from these areas refer to these plants as 'municipal workers' as
their flowers open at around 9 a.m. and close around 5 p.m.
The Drosanthemum species are perhaps the most popular and
spectacular of all garden mesembs. Few other plants can match the
glowing intensity of a stand of these mesembs in full flower. They
are fast-growing with small succulent leaves, and the scarlet, yellow
or orange flowers bloom in spring to summer. (September-February).
Growing Drosanthemum speciosum
the garden the plants must be replaced after three years as they
become woody and flower less. Plants can be watered moderately in
winter, but should be kept fairly dry in summer.
All drosanthemums are very hardy plants, thus making them ideal
water-wise plants for drier gardens. They can be used in the open
garden or mixed borders. Today they are found in Mediterranean gardens
throughout the world. The species has many colour forms to choose
from, thus allowing the gardener to mix colours with other interesting
plants. If not in the open garden, plants can be grown in a well-drained
rock garden, on a bank to form a ground cover, or even in flower
boxes to brighten a dull, sunny patio.
They grow easily from seeds that are produced in seed capsules
in late summer. Sow the seeds in river sand in the autumn or summer
(April or December), or scatter them over larger areas on a still
day, after which river sand must be lightly sprinkled over the sown
area. Cuttings usually root easily and are best taken after fruiting,
from midsummer to autumn (December to April in South Africa).
- Germishuizen, G., Meyer, N.L., Steenkamp, Y. & Keith, M. (eds) 2006. A Checklist of South African plants. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 41. SABONET, Pretoria.
- JOFFE, P. 1993. The gardener's guide to South African plants.
Tafelberg, Cape Town.
- SMITH, G., et al. 1998. Mesembs of the world. Briza Publications,
Karoo Desert National Botanical Gardens