The name Hypoestes refers to the calyx which is covered
by the bracts. Greek - hypo- below and -estes referring
to the calyx. The Latin aristata means bearing an awn,
referring to the flower bracts.
The ribbon bush 'Purple Haze' is an evergreen shrub approximately
1m in height. It produces an intense show of deep purple flowers
in the early to mid winter months in South Africa. The selection
'Purple Haze' was developed at the Witwatersrand National Botanical
Garden by careful selection for flower colour, foliage colour and
compactness of growth. Other colour forms are available. These include
the normal lilac-purple, as well as pink and white forms which are
not as showy and compact as 'Purple Haze'.
its natural state the ribbon bush is distributed along the southeast
coast of the country from the Eastern Cape through Kwa-Zulu Natal
and then inland along the Transvaal Drakensburg and again on the
Soutpansberg. It is usually found in reasonably thick vegetation
often on forest floor and margins as well as in woodland and thicket
The ribbon bush is evergreen and flowers in winter when very little
else is in flower in the garden. It is hardy to moderate frost,
but can be damaged by black frost or severe cold associated with
dry, icy winds. During the summer months the bush has a neat and
compact appearance and is useful as a backdrop to a low, mixed,
herbaceous border. It is also a versatile plant for out of the way
plantings, which receive little or no water, and for harsh conditions
such as road verges and traffic islands.
Growing Hypoestes aristata
Hypoestes is easily propagated from both seed and cuttings.
Semi-hardwood or soft tip cuttings can be taken in the late winter
or early spring (August - September) and placed in sharp horticultural
sand to strike root. The use of rooting hormone powder is useful
but not neccesary. Cuttings root quickly and can be transferred
to nursery pots as soon as they are well rooted in approx. 4-6 weeks.
Seed is easily germinated in spring. However, due the plant's ability
to catapult the seed out of the capsule when it is ripe, collection
must be done on a daily basis before the seed is lost. Seed should
be sowed on a germination medium and covered very lightly. Keep
seedlings cool and out of strong sunlight until they are strong
enough to be transplanted.
The ribbon bush is well known and cultivated all around the country.
It belongs to a small genus of only five taxa in South Africa. The
genus Hypoestes is a member of a large and widespread family
of herbaceous perennials (Acanthaceae).
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden