Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' is a hybrid developed here
at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens that is becoming a hit around
There are many Plectranthus species that are used as ornamental
herbaceous plants for the garden, not only in South Africa, but
all around the world. Most of these come from the more subtropical/tropical
areas of southern Africa. They come in a number of shapes and colour
forms ranging from white, through pink to dark mauves and lavenders.
Being so easy to propagate from cuttings, they are readily shared
amongst keen gardeners and are one of the few plants that grow well
Lavender' is a quick-growing, herbaceous, perennial shrub reaching
up to 0.75 m in height, forming a lovely, rounded, dense bush.
It has dark green, glossy leaves with intensely purple undersides
and sprays of lavender flowers dashed with purple markings.
It flowers very unpredictably, but does well in shortened daylight,
which starts in autumn, but depending on how old the plant is and
how much it has been pinched back, flowering can be extended right
into early summer.
Derivation of name and historical facts
Lavender' was bred by one of the horticulturists here at Kirstenbosch,
Roger Jaques, in the late 1990s. It was a fairly long process involving
much hand pollination and raising many thousands of seedlings, back
crossing and raising many more thousands of seedlings - each time
selecting out the best, most attractive individuals to go through
to the next round of breeding. But the efforts seem to have paid
off as now we have a magnificent plant that is sure to be a popular
garden plant all around the world.
The plant is being very effectively commercialized by the Ball
Horticultural Company based near Chicago in the USA. The NBI has
an agreement with this company to commercialize certain selected
plants. For each plant that they sell, South Africa receives substantial
royalties. As a result of this agreement, Ball have effectively
marketed and sold Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender' for Kirstenbosch
throughout North America, Europe, especially in the UK, South Africa
and Australia. Without their marketing and distribution abilities
this would have been very difficult.
Growing Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'
Growing 'Mona Lavender' is a pleasure for any gardener as it is
relatively adaptable and trouble free. It does very well in either
shaded or partly sunny positions. When it receives sun it tends
to stay smaller and more compact and the leaves exhibit a much more
intense colouring - especially on the purple undersides of the leaf.
Like most Plectranthus species, 'Mona Lavender' enjoys a
rich soil with plenty of humus, and won't say no to extra compost!
It is quite a thirsty plant, so water every few days to keep it
fresh and turgid.
The plants enjoy being pinched back to induce better branching
and compactness. They make a great bedding plant and look good when
they are planted en masse or as individuals in an existing bedding
display. They also make good pot plants which can be moved around
as needed and will fill a 25cm pot in a matter of months.
They enjoy feeding too, which should be carried out at any time
but preferably not before or during flowering. The fertilizer may
consist of a general all-purpose 2-3-2 as a granular or liquid feed
- be sure to water it in well as it is easy to burn the tender roots,
or use a purely organic fertilizer to avoid this.
One of the only downfalls of 'Mona Lavender' is that, like most
Plectranthus, it doesn't tolerate very cold conditions, although
it has been known to survive light frosts in Pretoria. If you live
in an area prone to winter frosts then plant it in spring and it
will flower in the autumn before the winter frosts take their toll.
For all other parts of South Africa that don't receive heavy frosts,
it can be planted at any time of the year.
'Mona Lavender' should be available at all retail garden centres
throughout the country, but if larger quantities are required or
your local garden centre does not supply it, then contact Ball Straathof
in Pretoria or Stellenbosch. Their contact details are:
Ball Straathof - Pretoria
P.O. Box 3691
Tel.: (011) 794 2316
Fax: (011) 794 1980
Ball Straathof - Stellenbosch
P.O. Box 3084
Tel.: (021) 887 0062
Fax: (021) 8875484
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens