Grow and Care Guide to Everlastings

Going.Local
Published on October 15th 2020
6
Everlasting or Syncarpha flower
The term ‘Everlasting’ is an apt description of a flower that can last for decades. These white, pink and yellow clustered flowers are members of the Syncarpha and Edmondia genera.
The beautiful shrublets are ideal additions to arid gardens, are low maintenance and can be dried for beautiful fall and winter arrangements. So let’s have a look at how to grow them.
A flock of seagulls standing on a flower
Edmondia species sway on long spindly stems that distinguish them from Syncarpha.

Selecting Everlastings

Everlastings are ideal for beginners because once they are established they will need little to no care. The most commonly available species is the white everlasting.
If you would like to stagger several species according to flowering season then have a look at the guide below:
Autumn flowering: Syncarpha canescens
Spring flowering: Syncarpha speciosissima, White everlasting (S. argyropsis)
Summer flowering: Cape Snow (Syncarpha vestita)
Syncarpha or everlasting shrub
Syncarpha argyropsis or white everlastings are great for borders as they reach a max height of 30 cm.

Where to Buy

Garden centres will often carry one of the more common varieties, however, a wider variety of species are available from fynbos specialists (see below).
Growing Syncarpha from seed might be tricky but opens up the possibility to grow a wider range of species. Note that Syncarpha species require a smoke treatment for better germination results. This is easily accomplished by soaking seeds overnight with a smoke disc (available at the Kirstenbosch nursery).
Syncarpha or everlasting ground cover
Several other genera sport similar blooms. This Helichrysum retortum can easily be mistaken for an everlasting, but is actually a sea strawflower.

Growth & Care

They are extremely easy once established and will require almost no watering if planted in the Fynbos belt (Western Cape).
  • Soil Type: Sandy
  • pH: Large range (can adapt to acid and alkaline)
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Pro: Bee friendly
  • Time to plant: Autumn to early Spring
As with most fynbos, it is inadvisable to plant them during summer as the intense heat, dry winds and exposure would make it hard for a plant to establish. Some rarer species (not yet in cultivation) will have low germination rates (20%) even with smoke treatment.
Remember that difficult species seem to root easier through air layering than cuttings. For a guide on how to air layer, see the article below.
A close up of a flower of a Syncarpha

Drying Everlastings

The flowers can be harvested and dried indoors or in a drying bag. The dried flowers are used in resin jewellery, potpourri or dried flower arrangements.
Shorter stemmed varieties such as white everlastings are not ideal for large flower arrangements as the stems are too short.
A close up of a Cape snow flower
Cape snow about to flower in the Overberg.

In Habitat displays

Some species form such flamboyant displays that one has to venture out into the nature reserves to snap some photos. One such a display is of Syncarpha vestita or Cape snow.
During early summer dozens of specimens flower along the Overberg. These can draw in the summer crowds, but you might be able to find yourself in your very own field of snow.

For more on growing fynbos dig into the growing guides below and leave us a comment if you find them helpful!

Bibliography:
Brown, N. A. C., Prosch, D. S., & Botha, P. A. (1998). Plant-derived smoke: an effective pretreatment for seeds of Syncarpha and Rhodocoma and potentially for many other Fynbos species. South African journal of botany, 64(1), 90-92.
Manning J. & Goldblatt, P. 2012. Plants of the Greater Cape Floristic Region 1: the core Cape flora. Strelitzia 29. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Swart, P. A. (2006). Horticultural propagation of the threatened species, Syncarpha recurvata (Lf) B. Nord. Unpublished MSc. thesis, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
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