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African hemp

Sparrmannia africana

House lime, Cape stock rose, Cape hollyhock, Wildestokroos (Afr.)

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This species is an evergreen tree or shrub that originates from Africa, also known as African hemp and house lime. Sparrmannia africana brings a lush, leafy look to the garden, and is ideal for shade gardens, shady courtyards, the south side of the house that does not see much sun, or use it to screen a shady boundary wall. This plant produces showy white flowers which measure approximately 3.5cm in width and have colourful red and yellow stamens. Also grown for their oval-shaped, lobed, rough, evergreen foliage. They prefer a sheltered position in full sun with winter protection as they will not survive frosts. It is fast growing, and a useful plant to fill an empty space, fast. Prune to shape. If left unpruned it can become leggy. Prune back hard once a year, in spring, to encourage a dense, bushy habit.

Planning

Difficulty
Easy
Flowering time
Spring, Summer
Fruiting time
Autumn

Harvesting

Generally not harvested.

Propagation

Cuttings
Take semi-hardwood or hardwood cuttings in spring or summer, remove at least a third of the leaves and treat with a suitable rooting hormone. Mist sparingly as the leaves don't like too much water.
Seed
Sparrmannia africana is easy to propagate from seed or cuttings. Sow seed in spring or early summer, use a general mix suitable for seedlings and keep warm and moist. Germination takes 14-20 days.

Special features

Attracts useful insects
Attracts bees.
Pot plant
Sparrmannia africana does well in pots, water well in summer. Feed generously or repot every year.
Indoor plant
Can be grown indoors where it needs a well ventilated position in bright light but not direct sun.

Geography

Origin
Africa, Madagascar, South Africa, southern coast from Riversdale in the Western Cape to Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
Natural climate
Mediterranean

Environment

Light
Partial Sun
Soil moisture
Moist
Soil type
Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil PH preference
Acid
Frost hardiness
Tender

Uses

Notes
The timber is soft and spongy and of little value, but the plant yields a good fiber. Some people report minor skin irritation when handling the hairy leaves.

Personality

Family
Malvaceae
Flower colour
White with a mass of yellow and red-purple stamens in the centre, Yellow, Red, White
Scent
None

Problems

Susceptible to fungi on the leaves, place in a well ventilated position, because free air circulation reduces attacks by fungi on the leaves.

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