Ribbon Bush - The Hypoestes Aristata

Hypoestes aristata is also known as the ribbon bush or the seeroogblommejie (which is an Afrikaans reference to its being used by some cultures to treat maladies of the eye). It looks great in residential gardens because it is aesthetically attractive and easy to grow.

Did you know? Hypoestes aristata boasts pretty pink blooms and is from the Acanthaceae family.

This perennial shrub only grows to about 1.5 metres in height. The little pink, mauve, white or purple flowers of the Hypoestes aristata sit in spiky inflorescences, or clusters, and the leaves are dark green with a soft hair coating them.

Flowering time

The Hypoestes aristata bears its delicate flowers all the way through from May (autumn) through to September (early spring). This means that the only time that these blooms do not adorn the landscapes and gardens of South Africa is during the chilly months of winter.

Use in the garden

Showy Hypoestes aristata attracts bees and other insects, as they feed on the plant and pollinate it. These, in turn, lure birds that live off insects as the primary part of their diet, which add colour and song to the garden. These include robins and thrushes. The soft leaves are eaten by some African cultures, in a similar manner to spinach.

In addition to attracting fauna, the Hypoestes aristata is pretty, making for a delightful display in any garden. Interestingly, some cultures have crushed the leaves and used the juice as a poultice for painful eyes.

Natural distribution

The Hypoestes aristata can be found throughout the scenic province of the Eastern Cape.

It stretches up to the subtropical provinces of the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, and generally opts for damp areas, as well as dry thicket and forested regions.

Growing Hypoestes aristata in your garden

When growing this plant in your garden, place it in an area with canopy, dappled or partial shade. It does well as fillers between other plants, or along the borders of established flower beds.

Flourishing in the Eastern Cape, Hypoestes aristata does well in coastal gardens too. Water it well in summer and less in winter, give the young seedlings a healthy compost, and prune it well after flowering. It is relatively hardy and needs little attention once established.

Propagation

Seeds and cuttings are the easiest way to grow Hypoestes aristata. Seeds should be sown just before spring (August). If they are, they should germinate within three weeks.

Cuttings are similarly easy to propagate. Water regularly during the establishing phase, and supplement it with a good quality compost.

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