Don Herbison-Evans ( firstname.lastname@example.org )
(updated 11 February 2008)
This plant is a perennial sub-shrub from Uruguay. It has beautiful felty grey/silver foliage, which is gorgeous for stroking while talking to your plants. It would be lovely grown in a garden planted specifically for touch, such as a sight-impaired garden.
It forms a shrubby mound and could be usefully employed as a ground cover, though it is not usually thought of in that way. It is capable of covering a very wide area (1 m or more), in one good growth season - so be careful with placement. Don’t be afraid to give it a severe cutting back just before spring.
Though it is worth growing for its foliage colour and texture alone it has the added bonus of beautiful orange flowers. Some oranges can be difficult to place in the garden but these seem to blend beautifully with other colours, particularly yellow and blue.
In spring, and well into early summer, the two-lipped orange flowers completely cover the plant in terminal clusters. The display can last for about 6 to 8 weeks, maybe longer if the weather is right, and it continues to spot flower for the rest of summer and well in autumn. It loves a full sun position but copes well with less. No need to water at all as it is drought hardy.
In winter the plant falters a little, not really enjoying low temperatures, but it will come back in spring. It will survive light frosts though it may be burnt off by them. Wait until all possibility of frost is gone and then lightly clip. Though it is a sub tropical plant it seems to endure cold well.
This plant is listed as attracting hummingbirds so you would expect it to be attractive to our native honeyeaters, but so far those in my garden do not seem to have found it. This plant is not widely available so perhaps the birds have yet to discover it.
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