Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Plectranthus x hybrida

 Plectranthus x hybrida
This hybrid which was developed in South Africa at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town in the early 2000's and has been distributed worldwide under various names including 'Mona Lavender' and 'Cape Angels'. The most popular variety is this one which has lavender coloured flowers and dark inky stems and under leaves. I grow this and the pink and white flowering forms.

 'Purple Angel' forms a neat shrub to about a metre tall in sun or shade and looks particularly fine when contrasted, as pictured here, with a lighter coloured foliage plant. In this case it is grown under a variegated lemon tree. Hardy, easily grown and good in pots, flowering is mainly in autumn but the flowering season can be extended by shearing off the top to bring on a new flush of flowers. Now for some bad news..... Flea beetles find the leaves very attractive and  they are difficult to spot on the dark leaves, or maybe they just live up to their namesake by jumping out of the way when you approach. Damage does not show up immediately until close observation reveals a network of tiny brown holes and disfigurement.
 A systemic insecticide is needed to kill them effectively as they return for a second go even if you cut the plants back and give them a feed to produce a flush of new growth. Flowers are not affected so perhaps in a garden situation spraying may not be necessary but when growing a batch for the marketplace it is a real curse to find the "crop" spoiled in this way.

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