Blushing bride or Pride of Franschhoek
First recorded in 1773, this well-known plant, belonging to the Proteaceae family, is now threatened in its natural habitat by invasive plants and fire. It occurs on the Franschhoek side of the Hottentots Holland mountains where soils are of a granite origin. The common name – blushing bride – has been ascribed to many different folklore interpretations, although it must be said that the flower does resemble a bridal gown. Blushing brides are small (approximately 1 m tall and equally as wide), evergreen shrubs with finely-dissected foliage covering their many branches. During late winter and spring the branches are tipped with terminal flowers, singly or in clusters of up to eight per stem. The delicate beauty of the smallish, ivory- to pink-shaded flowers is probably best described by the photograph. They are truly one of the most attractive of all our South African Proteaceae family. Serruria plants grow best in full sun and require acid soil conditions that are low in phosphates. Use acid compost for preparing planting holes to ensure appropriate soil conditions. They are excellent subjects for large pots and containers. Plants need to be watered regularly as they can suffer adversely from drying out. As a general rule do not fertilise the plants, as they are sensitive to many chemical compounds. Use water-soluble, organic plant foods at very low dosages, if plants require a bit of a boost. Tip-prune plants in December to ensure that they have sufficient time to produce flower buds for the following season. Serruria florida is a superb cut flower for the vase and is grown extensively in commercial plantations. Bunches of flowers always grace the shelves of retail stores in season. This charming member of the Proteaceae family is definitely worth trying out in your garden. Look out for ‘Carmen’ as well – a deep pinkflowered hybrid cross between Serruria florida x rosea.