Too beautiful for weed



I just love the indigenous groundcover, Arctotheca which I was first introduced to in Brisbane, Australia of all places. It’s common name is Cape Weed, which speaks volumes about the plant. Out of it’s natural habitat it has really become an invasive weed. Brisbane has a climate a bit like Durban and if you compare Durban to the Free State – they are very obviously two different climatic areas. Therefore we don’t have to worry about arctotheca becoming an invasive plant or weed in our region of the country, we can just be grateful it grows easily and well.

Arctotheca spreads by means of runners and can therefore easily be cultivated by lifting and replanting rooted runners. It must be planted in full sun although an hour or two of shade in the course of the day won’t do it any harm. It forms a thick mat of vegetation and so is also suitable to plant on slight slopes where it will help hold the soil. Don’t, however, use it on a steep slope (1m fall over 1m distance) as it will look untidy with lush growth at the base of the slope where there is more water due to runoff and sparser growth on the sides of the slope. Arctotheca has bright yellow daisy like flowers that stand upright on short stems above a mat of attractive serrated green grey leaves.

I have used it on slopes, between stepping stones, in water-wise gravel gardens and even as a substitute for lawn in an area where there were no dogs and little traffic.It has survived most winters in my garden with no trouble at all although severe frosts have burnt the plants but not killed them, they have recovered quickly again in spring.

Although arctotheca does not need much water it is important to water well initially to get them established and to remember in our dry winters to give them the occasional watering.  In good rainy seasons this plant forms a thick spongy mat of leaves and flowers but in times of drought it appears much flatter. In a garden therefore where it is watered regularly, it becomes a lovely lush groundcover, find a spot for some in your garden.

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