Coleonema ‘Sunset Gold’ is a very compact hybrid (about 50 x 30 cm) with needle-like gold foliage and pink flowers.
The yellow foliage is sensitive and can burn in climates with fierce summer sun. The bright foliage of ‘Sunset Gold’ makes it a useful shrub for providing contrast in the foreground of mixed borders.
In a country where lobola comes first and confetti second when it comes to love, at least the romantics amongst us have the ‘white confetti bush’ to console us. It is one of our prettiest indigenous shrubs and really comes into its own in spring, although it starts to put on its extravagant display of tiny flowers early on in the cooler months.
Coleonemas grow in the wild in the Eastern and Western Cape, and there are also a few garden hybrids. These woody evergreen shrubs grow to about 1,5 x 1 m and have many thin, lateral branches. The branches and needlelike leaves are very aromatic, and essential oils are extracted commercially from Coleonema album. The aromatic and deodorizing qualities of the stems and leaves can be used to repel mosquitoes and ants, and to remove odours from hands.
When do they bloom?
Hundreds of tiny star-shaped flowers appear at the end of each branch from late autumn, through winter and deep into spring. They make it look as if the plant has been liberally sprinkled with confetti, and they also attract a multitude of insects and butterflies.
Most suitable climate
Coleonemas are best suited to winter rainfall regions, but they do need additional watering during the dry summer months. They cope well in very warm, arid regions, but in humid regions that experience intense heat and excessive summer rainfall, they can fall prey to a root disease called Phytophthora which can be fatal. They will not survive heavy frost and extremely cold winters.
What they need
Location: they thrive in a warm place in full sun. Plant them in fynbos gardens, rockeries, shrubberies and amongst swathes of grasses. Plant them in uneven groups in a garden where you want to create a calm oriental atmosphere. They respond well to heavy pruning and can be shaped into the forms so characteristic of oriental gardens, such as low clouds, green balls and sharply defined cubes. You can also use coleonemas for formal and informal hedges.
Soil: well-drained, compost-enriched soil with a neutral to slightly acidic pH-balance is best. Mulch with coarse compost or bark to help protect the delicate root system.
Water: coleonemas are relatively water-wise and will survive amongst other plants with low water requirements, but regular deep watering during the warmest parts of summer will keep them lush.
Fertilizing and pruning: prune them immediately after they have finished flowering to keep them neat and to stimulate dense new growth and the formation of more flower buds. Don’t allow the seed capsules that emerge after the flowers to develop – remove them when you prune. After pruning, apply a slow-release organic fertilizer and renew the layer of mulch around the plants.
In a nutshell
* Full sun.
* Needs well-drained soil.
* Excellent flowering shrubs that provide colour in winter and early spring.