If you read my recent posts (1 2), you know that my current plant crush is Leucospermum ‘Scarlet Ribbon’. I bought a 5-gallon plant two weeks ago at the grand opening of the newly enlarged Ruth Bancroft Garden nursery and I know right away where I wanted it to go: outside the front yard fence, replacing a Salvia microphylla ‘Hot Lips’. (Nothing wrong with the ‘Hot Lips’ but I was ready for a change.)
Here’s what this spot looks like now. The photo was taken from a slightly different angle to include the Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’ which is now at its winter best:
I’m really happy with the placement of the ‘Scarlet Ribbon’. I hope it’ll thrive in this sunny spot.
Leucospermum ‘Scarlet Ribbon’ is a hybrid between Leucospermum glabrum and Leucospermum tottum created in 1974 by South Africa’s Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute (VOPI). It’s one of the hardier leucospermums (to 25°F) and is able to tolerate a wider range of soil types than others. Still, like all members of the Proteaceae family, it needs well-draining soil that’s slightly on the acidic side. Too much water will kill them.
I planted my ‘Scarlet Ribbon’ on a slight mound, using sandy loam to which I added elemental sulfur. I erred on the side of caution because I think the loam I was using had a fairly neutral pH already. One of these days I’ll invest in a soil pH meter so I’ll know for sure. If needed, I can then sprinkle more elemental sulfur on top of the soil like they do at the Ruth Bancroft Garden.
A note on fertilizers: Proteaceae are adapted to thrive in nutrient-poor soils and generally do not need to be fertilized. In fact, a sure fire way to kill them is to use a conventional plant fertilizer that contains phosphorous. Professional growers recommend an occasional light feeding with cottonseed meal or highly dilute fish emulsion.
Another thing that’s important: good ventilation around the plant to prevent fungal infections. I don’t think that will a problem in this spot since it’s quite exposed.
I know I’ve been talking too much about this particular plant, and I promise I won’t lose another word on it until I have something newsworthy to report.