This plant originates in the Eastern Cape. It favours dry places
and bare, open, hard ground and grasslands. It is often found growing
amongst rocks. This plant is quite adaptable as it grows in both
summer and winter rainfall regions, so although it comes from a
summer rainfall area, it grows well in the Cape fynbos region.
is a low growing groundcover, with small, grey leaves. The flowers
are daisy-like with canary yellow rays surrounding a darker yellow
centre, flowering from December to May. The flowers remain fresh
on the plant for almost two months, and are everlasting if cut and
dried. For best results, harvest the flowers within a week of them
first opening. Clip them and hang them upside down in a dry room.
Growing Helichrysum argyrophyllum
In the open ground this plant makes a densely leafed
ground cover approximately 100mm in height. It prefers sunny positions
where it has a mat-forming growth habit. It likes sandy, well drained
soil, making it ideal for those spots in the garden where nothing
else seems to want to grow, like dry patches in the full sun, or
on sloping ground. It is ideal for rockeries or terrace walls, where
it cascades down over the rocks.
Lifespan in the garden is approximately 4-6 years, but plants can
be cut back and fed to improve their shape if required. It is better
to use an organic food, such as compost or Seagro, rather than a
fertilizer. This encourages slow growth. Fertilizers encourage the
plant to grow too fast and exceed its growing capacity, making it
lanky and woody. The striking contrast provided by the grey foliage
of this plant makes it an ideal ground cover and border plant. It
is also a good filler for pots, cascading down the sides. Like many
other helichrysums and grey leaved plants, H.argyrophyllum
is drought tolerant, making it a good choice for the water-wise
gardener. It also grows in semi-shade, but will not flower as prolifically
as in full sun. The plant has a strong resistance to fungi and seems
to be very unappetising to insects!
Propagation is by seed and cuttings. Seed is best sown in autumn
or spring, otherwise the plant roots freely wherever the stem touches
the ground. Heel or tip cuttings can be made, using Seradex #2 or
Dip and Grow root hormone treatments.
There are over 600 species of Helichrysum occuring worldwide,
with 244 found in southern Africa. The word Helichrysum is
derived from the Greek "helios" meaning sun and
"chrysos" meaning gold, referring to the colour
of many of the flowers of species in this genus.
Hilliard, O.M., 1983. Flora of Southern Africa Vol 33. Part
Schenk G., 1991. Pacific Horticulture, Vol 52(3)54-56
E. van Jaarsveld - Personal communication, Horticulturist
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens