This plant has a strong fragrance
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Zulu Spurflower Overview
The delicate blue flowers and velvety leaves of Plectranthus zuluensis make this easily grown shrub a winner for those difficult shady areas in summer rainfall gardens. The Zulu Spurflower is an erect or sprawling, multi-branched shrub up to 2 m high, with hairy stems, velvety to the touch when young. The plant has a characteristic pungent smell when crushed. The main flowering time is from summer to winter with a peak in autumn. In nature, Plectranthus zuluensis commonly grows along stream banks and deep river gorges in humus-rich soil and in shady or semi-shady areas on the margins of semi-coastal, subtropical forests. It is best suited to gardens in warmer, frost-free areas. Once established, plants need little watering and can be fed with 2:3:2 fertilizer every three months in summer to keep plants healthy. Prune plants every year after flowering to remove dead and diseased wood. Plants trained as hedges or shaped bushes should be kept trimmed to maintain a compact shape. Container plants need replacing annually. Water pots twice a week and feed fortnightly with a liquid fertilizer. Attractive cultivars of this species are 'Oribi Gorge' with light purple-blue flowers, 'Sky', a low-growing shrub with dark purple-blue flowers, and 'Umgeni', a taller shrub with dark purple-blue flowers.
Common problems with Zulu Spurflower
Eelworms can be a problem, tiny soil-dwelling worms that attack the root system. Take cuttings of the plants and remove and burn roots of affected plants. Nematicides are available commercially, but handle these with care as they are usually highly poisonous. Most insects avoid Plectranthus plants, possibly because the high essential oil content of the leaves makes them unpalatable. Rust and blight are fungal diseases which do occasionally attack the plants, but these can be controlled by spraying with appropriate fungicides.
Zulu Spurflower Companion Plants
Plant as a shrubby groundcover under trees with Clivia, Crinum moorei, Scadoxus multiflorus var. katherinae, Streptocarpus and Thunbergia natalensis for a wonderful forest glade display.
How to propagate Zulu Spurflower
Plectranthus species are very easy to propagate by cuttings with no specialized training or rooting hormones required! Cuttings can be taken at any time, but spring and early summer are best for quick results. Choose healthy plants and take softwood cuttings from the growing points. Use a sharp, clean instrument to cut approximately 0.5 m lengths from just below a node, and remove most of the leaves to reduce water loss. Keep cuttings moist and set as soon as possible in a clean, fast-draining medium such as sand or vermiculite. Place in a well-ventilated, shady position and water daily, or more if required in very hot weather. Roots will develop in 3 to 4 weeks, when the cuttings can be transferred to containers filled with potting medium.
Sow the fine seed in early summer, distributing it sparsely on the surface of a prepared seedling tray and cover with a thin layer of fine medium. Water regularly until the seedlings are ready to be potted on, after about three weeks.
Special features of Zulu Spurflower
Other uses of Zulu Spurflower
Lovely shrub for shade areas in the garden.