If you are looking for some hardy, beautiful autumn flowering shrubs for a light shaded position, look no further. Both Hypoetes aristata and Dyschoriste thunberfiiflora will foot the bill admirably.
They both belong to the Acanthaceae family, (pronunciation: ah-kanth-AY-see-ee) a family of herbs, shrubs and climbers that are widespread in South Africa, but showing the greatest diversity in the high summer rainfall areas. Other noteworthy members of Acanthaceae in southern Africa that are well-known to gardeners include Barleria ), Duvernoia ), Mackaya ) and Thunbergia.
Hypoestes aristata (pronunciation: hy-poh-ES-teez
Common names: ribbon bush (Eng.); seeroogblommetjie (Afr.); uhladlwana olukhulu, uhlonyane, uhlalwane (Zulu)
The ribbon bush with its attractive lilac pink flowers is an excellent garden subject, it is a fast-growing shrub that grows up to 1.5 m high. It produces soft, hairy, dark green oval leaves and has attractive lilac pink or white flowers borne in spike-like inflorescences. It flowers from May right through winter till early spring.
It is usually found in dry thicket, forest and damp places from the Eastern Cape in the south to tropical Africa in the north. Bees, flies and other small insects visit the flowers in search of nectar or pollen, thus becoming a food source for insectivorous birds.
Traditionally Ribbon bush is eaten as spinach in some areas, while the crushed leaves are used as a poultice for sore eyes. It also makes a good cut flower because it lasts well in water.
Growing Hypoestes aristata
The ribbon bush can be propagated from both seeds and cuttings. When seeds are sown in August they will germinate in three weeks. It also tends to seed itself in the garden. You can collect a handful of seeds and sow them in containers or plastic bags until they are large enough to be planted directly in the garden. Ribbon bush should be watered well in summer but less in winter and it needs to be pruned back after flowering. It requires very little attention because it grows easily in the garden.
Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora ((pronunciation: dis-kor-RISS-tee)
(Syn.: Calophanes thunbergiiflora)
Common names: purple bells (Eng.); persklokkies (Afr.)
A versatile, evergreen shrub for semi-shade, with attractive dark green foliage and eye-catching, large, blue-purple, trumpet-shaped flowers, occurring from summer through to autumn
It is fast-growing, much-branched, rounded habit and grows up to 1.7 m high, with a spread of 1.5 m. Leaves are mostly elliptic and entire, and the flowers occur in the leaf axils. The beautiful purple-blue tubular flowers characteristically have a 2-lobed upper lip and a 3-lobed lower lip that is marked with deep purple spots and splotches in lines into the throat. Flowering occurs through the summer months into autumn, from October to April. The flowers are followed by cylindrical capsules containing four seeds usually covered with water-absorbing (hygroscopic) hairs.
Purple bells is cultivated in southern Africa, but is actually native to tropical Africa, occurring in Kenya and eastern Uganda, Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora is pollinated by insects and attracts various species of butterflies. The insects that can tolerate some sun during the day, but prefers semi-shaded conditions.attract insectivorous birds; therefore, this plant is a
Growing Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora
Purple bells is a fast-growing, colourful, evergreen shrub It is a plant from a summer-rainfall climate that does well in a wide range of soils, and will thrive in the winter-rainfall areas as long as the soil drains well. Water well in summer, but much less in winter. It has lush foliage when it receives regular reasonable amounts of water, although it is quite hardy and can do alright with less. Feed generously. Lots of compost added to the soil before planting, will keep the plants lush and green. Plants require thick layers of compost applied as mulch and regular feeding with organic or chemical slow release fertilizer to perform at their best.